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Effective communication for in-house counsel

Advice from an expert

Read about the benefits of executive coaching in Coaching in-house counsel helps perfect their game

Communication is an area in which many people feel insecure and could use some help. To this end, executive communication coach Susan Anderson, founder and president of S.E.A. Communications Inc., offers some tips on how lawyers can better interact with others:

  1. Don't bury your headline: “A lot of attorneys tend to qualify everything they say,” Anderson says. “There are huge numbers of parenthetical phrases in their sentence structure because that’s part of legal training. Think about using a 14-word sentence, and get the verb as close to the noun as you can.”
  2. It’s not what’s said, it’s how it’s expressed: “It’s your tone of voice, your pacing, your inflection, your articulation and your body language at the same time.”
  3. Prioritize the message: “People really can’t focus if you give them too many things to think about. You need to prioritize and give them two or three things to focus on to start, and maybe add others later if you’re looking for change.”
  4. Illustrate your words: “I encourage people to talk by using examples, anecdotes and metaphors when possible. We all remember narratives much better than we remember a PowerPoint.”
  5. Be comfortable: “You really need to be comfortable in your own skin. A lot of people are self-conscious when they speak and they need to shed that. If you’re comfortable speaking, then obviously others are comfortable listening to you.”

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