Law Tips: A Professional’s Advice on Clarity, Compassion & Confidence in the Courtroom, Part 3: Great Speeches

“In addition to learning from the great legal orators, there is much to be learned from great speeches in art, politics, and business. They share many common qualities that lawyers should adopt as they develop their storytelling and engagement skills.”

It’s a pleasure to continue our Law Tips series offering words of wisdom from David Mann on the skills of storytelling for litigators. If you missed his persuasion and/or voice tips, you will want to keep paging down for those two previous blogs below. As we wind up this festival of communication, here are some illustrative examples of good speech techniques with comments from our storytelling coach:

Great Speeches

Mastery of Images. All the great speakers rely heavily on images to convey their ideas. Martin Luther King inspired generations of followers through his images of freedom, not his data on injustice. A picture truly is worth a thousand words, and remember that pictures can be painted with words too. Use images as often as facts to make a lasting impression through metaphors, analogies, and images of the future.

Mastery of Moment. Great speeches are memorable over time because of how well they exist in the present moment. When Marc Antony addresses the hostile romans in Julius Caesar, he cleverly uses a simple repetitive device to persuade them to his point of view. When President Reagan addressed the nation after the shuttle disaster, he made the moment his own through a very personal appeal.

Mastery of Style. Skilled orators know that the sound is every bit as important as the words. So they consciously use parallelism, antithesis, anaphora, and many other rhetorical devices to “package” their ideas in a way that makes far more impact that the raw idea alone ever could. President Kennedy didn’t deliver a long lecture on civil service; instead he uttered the far more potent phrase, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”

When President Obama was campaigning, he often roused audiences with a series of questions that all ended with “Yes we can.” These devices work, and all lawyers should master them if they want to be persuasive with a jury.

Rhetoric in Great Speeches

Ronald Reagan, Shuttle Disaster Speech, 1986 (excerpts)

As eulogist and fellow mourner:

Ladies and Gentlemen, I’d planned to speak to you tonight to report on the state of the Union, but the events of earlier today have led me to change those plans. Today is a day for mourning and remembering. Nancy and I are pained to the core by the tragedy of the shuttle Challenger. We know we share this mourner pain with all of the people of our country. This is truly a national loss.

As representative of America’s feelings

For the families of the seven, we cannot bear, as you do, the full impact of this tragedy. But we feel the loss, and we’re thinking about you so very much. Your loved ones were daring and brave, and they had that special grace, that special spirit that says, “Give me a challenge, and I’ll meet it with joy.” They had a hunger to explore the universe and discover its truths. They wished to serve, and they did. They served all of us.

As a wise, caring father

And I want to say something to the schoolchildren of America who were watching the live coverage of the shuttle’s take-off. I know it’s hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this happen. It’s all part of the process of exploration and discovery. It’s all part of taking a chance and expanding man’s horizons. The future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we’ll continue to follow them.

Rhetoric of the rule of three, metaphor and antithesis in Shakespeare’s writing of Marc Antony’s funeral oration for Julius Caesar:

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;

I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.

The evil that men do lives after them;

The good is oft interred with their bones;

Where better to end this Law Tips series than with Shakespeare! I have enjoyed learning about storytelling from David Mann and appreciate his contributions to the Law Tips blog. His advice on communicating with clarity, compassion and confidence can serve us all well.

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About our Law Tips faculty participant:
David Mann is a speaker, trainer, and professional actor/director. He has a specialized focus on persuasive presentation for lawyers, and he is on the faculty of NITA (National Institute for Trial Advocacy) and Loyola School of Law.  A professional theater artist for over two decades, David has performed or directed for many recognized theatre companies.  He has written and performed five critically acclaimed one-man shows, and he is a recipient of a Bush Artist Fellowship for Storytelling.  David is a graduate of Northwestern University, and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.  If you have questions for David or would like to inquire about his coaching, contact him at david@davidcmann.com. For speaking engagements go to the Professional Education Group at proedgroup.com.

 

ICLEF • Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, Indianapolis, IN

Posted in Law Blogs, Law Tips0 Comments

Law Tips: A Professional’s Advice on Clarity, Compassion & Confidence in the Courtroom, Part 2: Managing Your Voice

Juries listen to ideas, not individual words…The human connection happens between the words, so respect that with your phrasing…

I’m pleased to have David Mann, our storytelling for litigators coach, returning to Law Tips with more advice on the three principles of persuasive power: clarity, compassion and confidence. If you’d like to reread last week’s tips on effective communication with the jury, you’ll find that article at the bottom of this page.

During Mr. Mann’s training he advises: “There are many areas where a lawyer’s persuasive power will increase by managing the two tools of rhetorical delivery: voice and body.” Could you use a brush up on vocal communication? David offers these pointers:

Voice is the actor’s primary expressive tool. Study of vocal technique for actors can take many years, but the three essential ingredients are very simple:

  • TONE- the pitch and emotional quality of the voice
  • PACE- the rate of speech and the use of silence
  • VOLUME- the energy of the voice

Use natural phrasing. Juries listen to ideas, not individual words. So make sure to speak in clusters of thought and place your pauses naturally between the ideas. Pauses can be used for effect, but only very sparingly. People catch on to that technique quickly and can become numb to it. The jury needs to get the sense that you are communicating a series of concepts that add up to a story. Unnatural phrasing can have a negative impact, cause confusion, and cost you valuable relationship currency with the jury.

Emphasize antithesis. Facts, of course, become much clearer when contrasted with opposing facts. Simply stating that contrast isn’t enough, however- it has to be emphasized with your voice. In order to make a lasting impression on the jury, it’s important to paint the picture with your inflection: “right” and “wrong” must sound different. “Mrs. Smith” and “that corporation” must have two distinct inflections that communicate your subtext.

Slow down and let the words live.The human connection happens between the words, so respect that with your phrasing. When used sparingly, pauses can be a chance to build a sense of trust between you and the jury. Speaking slowly and confidently gives the jury a chance to process what you’re saying as you say it. Of course there’s a limit- speaking too slow isn’t good either. So think of your rate of speech in walking terms as a stroll- not a jog and not a crawl. Maintain energy to end of line.

Question like you mean it.Very easy to forget, especially after rehearsing for a long time. Questions (especially questions you already know the answer to) can become rote and disengaged. But remembering to question in an interested tone can make an enormous difference in the answer. Witnesses need to be encouraged to elaborate (if that’s what you want), so question like you truly care about the answer. It can create a conversation out of what would otherwise be an interrogation.

Eliminate verbal filler. Cluttering your speech with “OK, and … “ or “you know” or “like” or a lot of “um, ah, er” will only make it look like you don’t trust yourself, which makes it virtually impossible for the jury to trust you. This is why it’s vital that you know your words cold and practice your material. By the time you’re in the courtroom, it’s too late to tell yourself to stop adding filler.

Practice out loud. There is no substitute for this. You can feel confident and think confidently, but unless you practice it you’ll never appear confident to a jury. You can know what you’re going to say and have it written out very clearly, but speaking it in a large room under intense scrutiny is a very different matter. In preparing for a trial, your voice needs as much practice as your mind. Only making a cursory effort at practice (doing it quickly in a whisper, paraphrasing to save time, rehearsing “in your head” but not out loud) will result in you giving the impression that you’re not prepared or confident- even if you are.

Avoid the Clarity Killers. There are a few tonal habits speakers adopt accidentally, and they can have a negative impact on how you are perceived. “The Chop” is the habit of turning a normal sentence into a series of short statements. It’s usually intended to sound dramatic and important (think political stump speech) but it only serves to confuse the listener. “The Nose Dive” is the habit of beginning each sentence with energy and letting it dissipate to a whisper by the end. The next sentence has exactly the same downward-inflected sound, and eventually the listener gets put to sleep. “Question Speak” is the habit of upward-inflecting every few words as if to say “know what I mean?” It’s a pattern associated with teenagers, and if it accidentally creeps into a lawyer’s speech it will instantly diminish credibility.

I thank David Mann for providing his tested insights into the value of honing verbal skills. Fortunately, there’s more of his expertise to come. Have you been thinking of people you know who capture the courtroom or notable speeches in history that illustrate David’s points above? You’ll want to check back in with Law Tips next week for his examples of successful rhetoric techniques used over time by great orators.

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About our Law Tips faculty participant:
David Mann is a speaker, trainer, and professional actor/director. He has a specialized focus on persuasive presentation for lawyers, and he is on the faculty of NITA (National Institute for Trial Advocacy) and Loyola School of Law.  A professional theater artist for over two decades, David has performed or directed for many recognized theatre companies.  He has written and performed five critically acclaimed one-man shows, and he is a recipient of a Bush Artist Fellowship for Storytelling.  David is a graduate of Northwestern University, and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.  If you have questions for David or would like to inquire about his coaching, contact him at david@davidcmann.com. For speaking engagements go to the Professional Education Group at proedgroup.com.

 

ICLEF • Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, Indianapolis, IN

Posted in Law Tips, News0 Comments

Law Tips: A Professional’s Advice on Clarity, Compassion and Confidence in the Courtroom

“A trial is a highly prepared, precise operation. A good attorney must engage a jury of ordinary people with complex data and ideas. Like a great work of theatre, all the elements must come together to create a cohesive and vivid picture in the minds of the jurors. But unlike a play, a trial may put real lives, reputations, and fortunes at stake. It is critical that impressions are managed and stories are clear.”

I welcome David Mann, The Professional Education Group, Minneapolis, MN, as our latest Law Tips faculty participant. His comments above are a part of his ICLEF seminar, Advanced Skills of Storytelling and Persuasion for Litigators.” Mr. Mann engages attendees in the key concepts of persuasive delivery and storytelling for lawyers based on techniques drawn from the performing arts. I’ll tell you more about both David and how you can take advantage of his CLE program later in this article. Now, let’s bring the curtain up on his presentation of the keys to clarity, compassion and confidence in the courtroom. David begins by re-examining the central idea of any trial lawyer’s preparation:

Persuasion:
Persuasion is about how they’ll hear, not what you’ll say. Though this sounds incredibly simple, it’s actually quite counter-intuitive. We tend to prepare what we say as though we’ll be speaking to ourselves – or someone who thinks like us. But that is rarely the case. In order to be persuasive it is critical to orient your words and ideas to the listener, based on whatever knowledge about them you’re able to gather or perceive.

LAWYER

  • Logical
  • Responds to data
  • Problem-focused
  • Collects pertinent information,analyzes the information, reaches a logical, sound conclusion based on the evidence

JURY

  • Emotional
  • Responds to images
  • People-focused
  • Uses general knowledge ofhow life works, constructs a story, uses data to justify their emotional conclusion

There is a gap between these two very different thinking styles, and bridging that gap should be the primary focus of a lawyer’s communication preparation for trial. Understanding and navigating the dynamic between the logical, data-driven lawyer and the emotional, image-driven jury is key to persuasion. With this in mind, it becomes clear that the story of the case and each individual story within it must be clear, human, and engaging in order to be persuasive.

A jury sits in an unfamiliar environment (the courtroom), absorbing a tremendous amount of unfamiliar material (the case), and is asked to make a fair judgment of right or wrong. If a lawyer doesn’t take this into consideration, it becomes easy to inadvertently talk over their heads and not engage them. It’s critical that an attorney makes every effort to resonate with a jury as a credible authority whom they can trust to speak their language and guide them through this unfamiliar landscape. Managing your presentation to communicate humanness (trust and likability) as well as authority (knowledge and confidence) will be perceived by the jury as credibility long before any facts emerge.

The Myth of Natural

Though the importance of delivery is undisputed, it’s common for lawyers to spend much less time practicing it than they do preparing the rest of the case. The prevailing idea- as it is for salespeople, teachers, politicians, etc.- is that all you need to do is simply “be yourself” at the moment of truth. But that’s when things go wrong, because it becomes painfully clear that there is no such thingas a “natural” delivery under such artificial circumstances. Actors know very well how much work goes into appearing to be natural and relaxed, on cue, every time. The same truth is key to every lawyer’s success. Learning how to manage your face, body, gestures, and vocal inflections is a skill unto itself. There’s nothing natural about it at all. But with practice, a lawyer can develop a courtroom persona that “reads” as natural to juries, witnesses, and judges, and projects the authenticity they want to convey.

Perception of Meaning

Human beings perceive much more about a speaker’s intention from non-verbal cues than from the words themselves. It always important to consider this, especially when constructing openings and summations. The human face has tens of thousands of subtle combinations of eye, mouth, and brow movements that are all associated with certain intentions. Likewise, the human voice has a virtually limitless capacity for expression using combinations of tone, pace, and volume. And tiny shifts of the shoulders, arms, legs, and hands can communicate enormous amounts of meaning to a jury. Ideally this unspoken 93% is consistent with your spoken message. But pay attention. Sometimes it can dramatically undercut what you’re saying and elicit an unwanted response.

The word “subtext” is not a word that is often used outside the art of theatre. The concept, however, is present in every act of human communication. It’s the idea that there is an entirely separate message being conveyed that exists “under” the words. For lawyers, there are specific subtext messages that are desirable and others that are not. A good lawyer acts as a conduit between the case and the jury, giving a human face to the otherwise complex and static trial data. Much of this is of course is done with words, but always remember to navigate the subtext as its own communication layer, filled with persuasive possibility.

The Three Cs

For persuasive power with ordinary people – the jury – three principles must be present: Clarity, Compassion and Confidence. Without clarity, nothing else can happen; without compassion (humanness), it’s just a recitation of facts. Only once those two factors are established does it become important to project your knowledge and authority.

It’s intermission time in David Mann’s discussion of integral persuasion skills for litigators. Return to Law Tips next week when he takes you into the specifics of rhetorical delivery…. “Although it is unnecessary for a lawyer to have the vocal and physical dexterity of an actor, there are many areas where a lawyer’s persuasive power will increase by managing the two tools of rhetorical delivery: voice and body.”

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About our Law Tips faculty participant:
David Mann is a speaker, trainer, and professional actor/director. He has a specialized focus on persuasive presentation for lawyers, and he is on the faculty of NITA (National Institute for Trial Advocacy) and Loyola School of Law.  A professional theater artist for over two decades, David has performed or directed for many recognized theatre companies.  He has written and performed five critically acclaimed one-man shows, and he is a recipient of a Bush Artist Fellowship for Storytelling.  David is a graduate of Northwestern University, and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.  If you have questions for David or would like to inquire about his coaching, contact him at david@davidcmann.com. For speaking engagements go to the Professional Education Group at proedgroup.com.

 

ICLEF • Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, Indianapolis, IN

Posted in Law Blogs, Law Tips0 Comments

Law Tips: Top 10 List for a More Successful Mediation

How do you insure that your mediations have the best results possible? Do you have a routine that starts your client out on the right foot? During a recent CME for Family Mediators workshop, Alicia Gooden, The Mediation Group, Indianapolis, offered these well-honed pointers for a more successful mediation:

1. BE PREPARED!!!!
A. Prepare as you would for trial: Discovery, evaluations, income information, child support printout, appraisals.
B. Prepare your client: discuss the best/worst-case scenarios, strengths and weaknesses of the case, making sure they understand the realistic possible outcomes.

2. Discuss the mediation process with your client so they have a general understanding before they arrive. Talk to the client about the mediator himself/herself.

3. Send a confidential statement to the mediator- even if just a brief email. If there is a really difficult client or unique facts/background, ask for a telephone conference with the mediator or meet privately before the mediation.

4. Send all balance sheets to the mediator in advance in excel. This will save time during mediation.

5. If you want to be efficient, work on a draft of an agreement during the mediation.

6. If you are asking for fees, don’t wait until the last minute to bring that up as an issue.

7. Have any experts available during the mediation, i.e., business valuators, appraisers, other financial experts.

8. If you have a time deadline for the day, tell the mediator at the beginning of the session.

9. Don’t substitute your own opinion or view for that of your client. Listen to what your client is telling you about his/her priorities are. (This is also the job of the mediator.)

10. Have a good attitude about mediation!!

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Hopefully this review gave you some food-for-thought. I appreciate Alica Gooden sharing her expertise in mediations with Law Tips readers. ICLEF has a wide array of choices for improving your mediation skills and techniques. Whatever level or type of training you require, we’re here for you. Keep an eye on the latest programs by checking our library often. You can choose mediation training as live seminars, video replays, CD-ROMs, electronic documents or publications. Click Here to see a full list of upcoming Mediation seminars.

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About our Law Tips faculty participant:
Alicia A. Gooden co-founded the Family Practice Division of The Mediation Group LLC, Indianapolis, in April of 2010. She serves as a mediator, arbitrator and parenting coordinator. In her conflict resolution work, Alicia features skills, perspective and insight gained from nearly ten years on the family court bench. Alicia was appointed Master Commissioner of Marion Circuit Court, Paternity Division in February of 2001. In her role as Commissioner, Alicia presided over custody, parenting time and support issues, and supervised all of the child support enforcement dockets, in paternity cases. Prior to her appointment to the bench, Alicia was an associate attorney at Kiefer and McGoff, in Indianapolis, Indiana, practicing in the areas of family law and criminal defense.

 

ICLEF • Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, Indianapolis, IN

Posted in Law Blogs, Law Tips0 Comments

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