Fandom and the art of speaking well

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of hearing the esteemed lawyer, legal thinker and professor, Dean Erwin Chimerinsky, speaks at the monthly Desert Bar Association luncheon.

I’ve been a fan of Dean Chimerinsky since I used his treatise, Constitutional Law: Principle and Policies, for the second semester of Constitutional Law.  It was the best student aid I ever used.

Given my fandom, I was excited to hear the Dean ( at University of California, Irvine law school) review the US Supreme Court cases from the 2013 term.  The cases he discussed were those decisions that made a big wave this year including Riley v. California, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission and Burwell v. Hobby Lobby.

The Dean’s view are discussed here (in his own words, no less) so there is no need to rehash them in this blog.

I would like to discuss the Dean’s presentation style because I was genuinely impressed with how well he spoke.   I’m thinking and writing about this because (hopefully) in the future, when I have the opportunity to teach or speak to a large group, I would like to keep these points in mind so that I too will be able to effectively present.   I would like to emulate the following aspects of his presentation style:

  • Speak well: In his hour long speech, I did not hear one “umm” or ahh from Dean Chimerinsky (and at some point, I was listening for filler words).   He spoke in a conversational manner but it seemed as if he had the “conversation” memorized.
  • Exercise memory skills: Along the above mentioned point, it also seems that he must have a great memory- he did not refer to any notes when naming the cases from this term (he spoke about a dozen cases from this term) or when mentioning prior Supreme Court decisions which were germane to the conversation.
  • Be Concise: He was concise, provided some background to the cases so that we could understand how these current decisions shape the course of the law.

Obviously, I already knew that the ability to speak well is a great boon to any teacher or public speaker but to see it in action inspires me to improve my public speaking skills.  Toastmasters, here I come?


By rcll

August 13, 2014

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