By Tanuj Kalia
Someone had the below question for me on Quora.
How important is public speaking for going to a law school in India? Does being bad at public speaking rule out law as a career option?
Here’s my answer:
It’s a myth that you have to be good at public speaking to succeed in the legal profession. All you need is to be able to speak cogently.
Consider this: What do most lawyers working in law firms do? They talk to clients, they talk to their colleagues and negotiate with the lawyers on the other side of the table.
All of this does require you to speak, but does it require you to be an ace public speaker? Definitely not!
But hey! Doesn’t good negotiation skills require you to be a forceful speaker? Not necessarily. There are different negotiation styles and you can surely develop your own.
Being good at public speaking might be slightly beneficial for you if you plan to litigate (argue in the courts), but again, even that’s not really a requirement. As one lawyer told me when I was doing the interviews for my book Law as a Career, the best quality of a good litigator is that he/she ‘knows the pages‘ of their files. (Anything about public speaking? No!).
Another thing: Public speaking is a skill. If you expose yourself to related opportunities (you can start with something fun like an MUN and then go to seminars, debates and [even] moots), you’ll only get better.
Even something which is thought of innate like ‘thinking on your feet’ can be developed. I have personally gotten better the more I moved out of my shell (I was a big introvert earlier, but college opened up me a lot. And after the Landmark Forum, I can very well be an extrovert when I want to be).
Also try searching for this organisation called ‘Toasmasters International’.
Here’s another article we published a while back.