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Presentation Tips

Presentation Tip 8: How Bad is PowerPoint?

Bashing Powerpoint is nothing new. Yale professor Edward Tufte devoted a pamphlet setting out his gripes. Tufte even cites it as a key factor in the 2003 Columbia Space Shuttle disaster.

Jeff Bezos banned PowerPoint from Amazon meetings.

Peter Norvig’s mocking vision of the Gettysburg Address translated into a slide show is hilarious.

Others believe it “may be the worst business tool ever created.”

These criticisms are close enough to sting, but the truth is more complicated. Strong presenters tend to use Powerpoint effectively. The difference between effective users and the typical poor users is less technical knowledge and more basic presentation skills. If you take slide shows away from poor speakers they will typically be even worse.

We’ll be looking this issue more closely in our Presentation Tips series, but for now, we’ll only make one point:

Powerpoint can be a fantastic tool–if you know how to use it.

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Marketing Productivity Tips

How Carolyn Elefant Does It

Never stop thinking, never stop working.

No wonder we can’t keep up with this woman.

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Security

Security Risks of 5G Cellphone Standard

Plenty of misunderstandings and oversimplified views of 5G cellphone security risks. Here’s the intro to Bruce Schneier’s analysis:

The security risks inherent in Chinese-made 5G networking equipment are easy to understand. Because the companies that make the equipment are subservient to the Chinese government, they could be forced to include backdoors in the hardware or software to give Beijing remote access. Eavesdropping is also a risk, although efforts to listen in would almost certainly be detectable. More insidious is the possibility that Beijing could use its access to degrade or disrupt communications services in the event of a larger geopolitical conflict. Since the internet, especially the “internet of things,” is expected to rely heavily on 5G infrastructure, potential Chinese infiltration is a serious national security threat.

But keeping untrusted companies like Huawei out of Western infrastructure isn’t enough to secure 5G. Neither is banning Chinese microchips, software, or programmers. Security vulnerabilities in the standards­ the protocols and software for 5G­ ensure that vulnerabilities will remain, regardless of who provides the hardware and software. These insecurities are a result of market forces that prioritize costs over security and of governments, including the United States, that want to preserve the option of surveillance in 5G networks. If the United States is serious about tackling the national security threats related to an insecure 5G network, it needs to rethink the extent to which it values corporate profits and government espionage over security.

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Productivity Tips

Techshow & An Alternative

There are good reasons why ABA Techshow is considered the world premiere legal technology conference, and it’s not too late to register. However, if you’re not in a position to take the time to attend, you could do a lot worse than multitasking while listening to a few episodes of Dennis and Tom’s fine podcast, the Kennedy-Mighell Report.

 

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Marketing

Greg Siskind’s Travel Ban Advisor App

Greg Siskind gets it. He knows far better than most lawyers how to do well by doing good. His new Travel Ban Advisor app is a perfect way to get new clients: Help the people you want to be your new clients.

I expect no less from the author of The Lawyer’s Guide to Marketing on the Internet. More on this later …

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Presentation Tips

Presentation Tip Number 7: Should You Have Handouts?

A simple question deserves a simple answer:

YES, nearly always.

There are many reasons for this.  The simplest is that at least a few audience members, perhaps many, will consider the failure to provide some written accompaniment to be evidence of apathy and/or laziness.  Apathetic slacker is not the image most of us want to project.

However, handouts are not merely an appearance issue.  Well-done handouts enhance audience understanding and increase the chance they will retain your message.  They are also a basic courtesy for the audience, freeing them from the frantic scramble to write down every important thing you say.  (You will be saying important things, right?).

Excuses for Lack of Handouts

Excuse 1: I want the audience to be paying attention to me while I’m speaking, not a handout.

I call this the narcissist excuse.  Few presenters are capable of constructing such enthralling handouts, but even if you are one of this talented group, is it really so bad if people learn the material from your handout instead of your eloquent voice? 

In any event, if you think your handouts are really that extraordinary, why not distribute them after your talk, instead of at the beginning?  If you take this approach, be sure to let the audience know at the beginning of your remarks, so they won’t feel a need to take duplicative notes.

Excuse 2: Handouts will dilute the value of my jokes or other surprises. 

This excuse has a silver lining of sorts: At least the presenter is trying to keep the audience engaged and believes their material is good enough to deserve protection.

However, in this situation it is possible to have the best of both worlds:

Again, there’s no law against distributing your handouts at the end of your talk.  Be sure to alert the audience when you begin speaking that you will have handouts, so they don’t feel obligated to write down every word you say.

Another approach is to distribute an edited version of the material at the beginning. Good slideshow software facilitates preparing a redacted version of your remarks.  You can create a separate version of your slide show that omits the surprise-killing slides.  This still requires a little extra work, but it’s worth it if you have high quality jokes or other surprises.

Excuse 3: Distributing handouts will make the audience remember the presentation better, so I can’t use the same material next year.

Wow!  This is my absolute favorite excuse.  There’s so much wrong with it that I don’t know where to start. 

Isn’t helping the audience remember what you are saying the whole point?  This excuse tacitly admits that handouts increase audience retention of the material.  Isn’t that’s a good thing, instead of a bad thing?

Audiences receiving compliance-oriented training should not have to suffer the same canned presentations every year.  This approach is no more attractive by delivering the material in a quasi-stealth manner, withholding handouts that might help the audiences remember the material. 

A key objective of this series of Presention Tips is to empower presenters so that coming up with fresh, engaging material each year does not seem like an overwhelming challenge.  We will be distributing our ideas in future columns, and we solicit your suggestions in the Comments section below.

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Productivity Tips

Don’t Write Me A Novel!

One CEO’s method of avoiding long emails she doesn’t have time to read:

“I also always say to my team: ‘Please don’t write me a novel, I won’t read it.’ I just don’t have the time. Instead, write in the subject line what it is that this is about. And tell me upfront–is a decision needed, or do you need me to look at something, or is it a ‘When you have time, take a look at this’?–so I can prioritize effectively and be responsive when I need to be.”

Source: Life Would Be Better If We Added This Line to Every Email

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Blogs for Lawyers

Quoting and Linking to Others’ Work on Your Lawblog

Kevin O’Keefe has some ideas about quoting and linking to others’ work:

Far too many people today blog based on their own knowledge as an expert on a subject without referencing anyone. It’s a breath of fresh air, as an authority and long time blogger in a niche, for someone to cite what I said and why. I remember those people as they stick out like shining stars. 

Couple ways to let the authority know that you referenced them. Share your post on Twitter and give them a hat tip, h/t @kevinokeefe. Alternatively, drop them an email saying “as a courtesy, I wanted to let you know that I referenced what you wrote/said in a recent blog post of mine etc, keep up the good work.”

Source: Quoting and Linking to Others’ Writings and Work On Your Law Blog | Real Lawyers Have Blogs

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KM Productivity Tips

Are Robots Replacing Lawyers? Not Like You Think | ABA Law Practice Today

Dorna Moini’s Law Practice Today article takes a sanguine view of the threat of automation taking lawyer jobs:

Automation is playing a major role in helping create more legal opportunities rather than eliminate legal jobs. In fact, according to a recent UCLA Law Review article, two leading experts on automation say that technology complements the work of many lawyers, rather than replacing it. Similarly, a recent study of 20 corporate law firms byDocumate found that selling online workflows increased the revenue generated from first stage incorporation work by 210% in just the first two months. These findings are backed up by statistics from the McKinsey Global Institute, which found that only 23% of lawyers’ current jobs could be fully automated.

If automation is not replacing lawyers, how it is impacting the legal profession? Widespread automation of routine documents and legal forms, particularly in areas such as family law, estate planning, or employment law, has helped to introduce more consumers to the availability of legal services. While the lawyers may no longer be handling the routine work that comes with the templates, providing automated forms opens the door for those lawyers to offer their services to a wider segment of the population and to provide other, more nuanced legal services to the consumers who are using those forms. The end result is an increase in their overall workload and their total number of hours billed for higher-value work (or, alternatively, more free time).

The popular notion that automating a single aspect of the law will necessarily obviate the rest of lawyers’ jobs is misplaced. For example, automated forms are undoubtedly increasing the number of clients who now have access to legal representation and reducing the number of hours lawyers are spending on manual, routine tasks. Nonetheless, the bulk of legal practice is at no risk of being replaced by technology. Human lawyers will always be needed for the more critical tasks, like formulating arguments, advising clients, negotiating deals or settlements, and appearing in court.

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Security

The Ethical Obligation of Maintaining Reasonable Cybersecurity Measures | ABA Law Practice Today

ABA Law Practice Today has an excellent reminder that cybersecurity implicates multiple provisions of the Model Rules:

[The leading ethics opinion] eferences five of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct as the foundation of the opinion. These rules pertain to the duty of competence, the expectation of keeping clients reasonably informed, attorney-client confidentiality, and the responsibility of a managing or supervisory attorney to ensure a firm’s compliance with the Rules of Professional Conduct for both attorney and non-attorneys alike.

Source: The Ethical Obligation of Maintaining Reasonable Cybersecurity Measures | ABA Law Practice Today