During the course of this past year’s presidential election, I took interest in the speech and delivery of President Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney. Both men possessed different, but effective, communication styles.
I took to watching YouTube, trying to determine the similarity in their speech pattern. I was hoping, maybe through some type of visual osmosis, that by watching and listening to effective speakers I would, in turn, become a better communicator.
I also started to listen intently to the speech of others in normal conversations and would ask myself: Are they communicating effectively? Do they say “like” and “um” to fill silence? Do I understand what they are saying?
A couple of weeks ago, I attended an event hosted by the MSBA Construction Law and Litigation Sections. Judge Paul Grimm spoke on the use of expert witnesses in federal and state construction law cases. While not the most scintillating of topics, it’s an important topic for my line of work.
For approximately 45 minutes, Grimm spoke without a script or notes or any visuals. He cited cases from memory, engaged the audience with hypotheticals and never filled any silence with the word “um” or “like.” He turned a potentially mundane topic into a highly interesting one. This was effective communication. (I had previously seen Grimm in “action” at a week-long CLE on trial advocacy, where he played the role of an attorney on cross examination of a witness, played by Judge William D. Quarles. A must-see for any litigator.)
After hearing Grimm speak, the idea of who would be on my legal lecture series list came to mind. Obviously, Judge Grimm is in my top three. Joining him would be Court of Appeals Chief Judge Robert M. Bell and retired Judge Joseph Murphy, like Grimm legal scholars with vast knowledge and the ability to effectively communicate.
Much like making an effort to see a Hall of Famer in any sport before they retire, I would advise you to make efforts to see my top three. Murphy makes regular appearances on behalf of the Baltimore County Bar Association to speak on a variety of topics and Bell, as chief judge, certainly has a booked schedule. (I know he is scheduled to speak during the MSBA’s Law Day event May 1.) If you have a chance, find time to listen in. It’s worth your time and effort.
Who is in your top three?