I Just Did My First In-Person “Drafting Clearer Contracts” Presentation in Four Years

On Friday, I went to Manhattan to do my first in-person Drafting Clearer Contracts presentation in four years. (The photo above is from that presentation, during the lunch break.)

The previous one was in March 2020, for a law firm in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Then the pandemic hit, and I went from constantly being on the road (see this 2019 post for more about that) to being hunkered down in suburban Long Island. And once the continuing-legal-education community discovered how efficient and cost-effective Zoom is, the move away from in-person training went from short-term reaction to systemic change.

I acknowledged as much in this 2023 post, in which I said this:

So I’ll do in-person presentations, but I expect to charge more for them. And I’ll be pickier about which I do. I expect my clients will be pickier too, saving in-person presentations by outside speakers for those events that matter more—in other words, when the intangible benefits of greater engagement are more likely to play a meaningful role.

In some ways, Friday’s presentation was like a faint echo of my previous life: taking the Long Island Rail Road and the subway to my client’s offices in the morning and returning home that afternoon was very different from, say, a trip to Mumbai.

But it served as a reminder of what’s lost when everyone is locked in a Zoom box. In an in-person presentation, you can read the room—you can see how participants react, observe their body language, and exchange glances and remarks with them. And because those in attendance were all from the same organization, they traded comments.

All that interplay made for a more improvised and lively presentation than is possible on Zoom. One result was plenty of laughter. It’s great to have that in a presentation that could be dry as dust, and it was a feature of my pre-pandemic presentations.

But we’re not going back to the way things were. The Zoom genie is out of the bottle. (For one thing, my course Drafting Clearer Contracts: Masterclass could only be done over Zoom, as it consists of eight weekly hour-long sessions.) And my own situation has changed in the past four years—I’m now an employee in charge of a new business, and I have a dog—so I couldn’t go back to my jet-setting ways, even if the demand were there. But some organizations might appreciate the intangibles offered by in-person training.

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.

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