Lawyers who litigate generally have to go into court and think quick on their feet. They might go in with a basic plan in terms of what they want to say. But there is no question that attorneys need to have the ability to think and speak freely if they are going to be successful.
The same is true as it relates to client interaction. Successful lawyers (even those who do not litigate) need to have the ability to respond to client phone calls and dialogue with clients freely if they are going to be successful. They cannot dialogue with clients effectively if they are trying to read off a script.
No lawyer could dispute that speaking freely and naturally is important in almost every area of the law. However, for some reason, when many lawyers do videos for their law firm, they may freeze up in front of the bright lights and feel intimidated. This can cause some to want to do something different, like read off a teleprompter or script. Just as somebody on the news that reads off a teleprompter, many lawyers want to resort to a teleprompter when they are doing legal videos.
While reading off a teleprompter (or script) can be safe and ensure that a lawyer does not blank in front of the camera, the reality is that it can make the lawyer appear robotic in their videos. Most potential clients can tell when a lawyer is reading off a teleprompter or script because not many lawyers can appear natural or fluid while doing so. Instead, it can literally sound like the lawyer is just reading something being fed to them.
When a client is looking for a lawyer and is viewing videos, most want a lawyer that appears natural and authentic. They want somebody who can think quickly on their feet. They want somebody who can dialogue without being told what to say from a script. They want somebody who appears warm. They want somebody who appears confident and authentic.
So, if you are doing videos for your webpage or other marketing efforts, strongly consider ditching the script or teleprompter. If your videographer encourages you to do so (like many will), you are likely best to tell them no. While it might be okay to have some notes taken down so that you know generally want you want to say, or do some rehearsals ahead of time, being too scripted is definitely a negative in legal videos. It can suppress any positive impact the videos were designed to make.
If you still insist on using a teleprompter or script for your videos, you better practice a lot. You better get so skilled at reading off a teleprompter (just like a news anchor who does this daily) that it appears 100% natural. You have to get so good at it that potential clients cannot even tell you are reading off a teleprompter. But for most lawyers, they do not have the time or energy to perfect reading off a script or teleprompter.
So, ditch the teleprompter (or script) and speak freely. Show potential clients your knowledge of the law. Show them your ability to dialogue and interact in a natural way. Even if it’s a struggle at first, being natural and authentic almost always trumps reading off a teleprompter or script in legal videos in terms of the impact it can make.
If you have any thoughts, feel free to share them below.