Best Article I’ve Read This Week: What Litigators Can Learn from Newscasters

by Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

Of course, there are big differences between litigators and newscasters. Litigators don’t simply read what is in front of them (at least not the good ones). Preparation for a newscast takes hours or days, not the months or years a trial might take. And of course, the skill set of a litigator is quite broad outside of the courtroom performance aspect of the job, typically requiring the ability to negotiate, write well, organize well, think on your feet, lead a team, sell and much more.

Still, I believe there are some very useful lessons to be learned from watching how the news is put together. The Nightly News with Brian Williams is a good example of a high-quality newscast, and about 10 million people watch it every day. Whether the evening’s anchor is Brian Williams, Lester Holt or Savannah Guthrie (she happens to be an attorney), the presentation is well-refined, the delivery is exceptional and overall, it serves as a good model for how to communicate in the courtroom.

Let’s look at 10 things that litigators, especially those who participate in jury trials, can learn from a high-quality news broadcast.

1) Newscasters never speak in jargon

Read the full article here:

http://www.a2lc.com/blog/bid/70480/10-Things-Litigators-Can-Learn-From-Newscasters?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+a2lc+%28The+Litigation+Consulting+Report+from+A2L+Consulting%29

litigators newscasters similarities

Developing Graphics for Litigation? Ask Yourself This Question….

I was recently working on a case with a long time client, when this question popped into my head: Why does this matter?

We were assembling case themes, and subsequent graphics, for his opening presentation and struggling to condense his 55-slide presentation to conform to a 45 minute time limit.  This client is a well-respected orator, so I had no worries that he would be able to persuade the audience with his dialogue, but I was genuinely concerned that he would overwhelm them with his dense visual presentation. As I culled through the slides, trying to find materials that I could cut, I kept asking myself the same question over and over again: Why does this matter?

Knowing that we had to cut this presentation in order to not overwhelm the jury, as well as get our point across, our goal was to strategically eliminate slides that didn’t hold up to the scrutiny of this imperative question.  We have to remember, that our opening presentation isn’t the time to put on our entire case, but rather provide a road map of why were are here, where we are going and how we are going to get there.  These three questions can easily be answered in less than an hour, through engaging your audience with a mix of an oratory and carefully selected visuals.

If the answer to this question is glaringly evident, particularly with your opening presentation, then most likely need to cut whatever it is you’re looking and save it for later, or not at all.  Remember: our goal in opening is to simply lay the foundation of our story in an abbreviated time frame.

It’s no coincidence that as I’m writing this article, a client (partner at a large NYC law firm) emailed regarding a current matter we are working on.  He had reviewed the presentation, created by two associates, and commented “we need to cut this down; the jury will be asleep in under 20 minutes.”  He knew what his associates should have been asking from the start, and if they did, could have saved valuable time, and money, as trial quickly approached.

 

Why does this graphic matter?  Because it combines three case themes, represents critical data and has an immediately recognized takeaway.

So, the next time you are creating your visual presentation for trial, arbitration, meditation or a hearing, don’t forget to ask: Why does this matter?

If you need assistance with this imperative question, feel free to contact me on LinkedIn or at DMykel@VisuaLexLLC.com

 

6 Trial Presentation Errors Lawyers Can Easily Avoid

by Ken Lopez
A2L Consulting

In our view, many common techniques that lawyers use in making courtroom trial presentations actually represent very common errors.

“Error” is a strong word, since trial presentation skills and techniques are not an exact science. However, every litigator and courtroom professional should know that there is a strong body of evidence that supports the idea that these approaches are less desirable and likely to be less effective.

Don’t Split the Audience’s Attention..

Read more here:

http://www.a2lc.com/blog/bid/59802/6-Trial-Presentation-Errors-Lawyers-Can-Easily-Avoid

trial presentation errors mistakes avoid

7 Things You Never Want to Say in Court

by Ken Lopez
Lawyers say a lot of things in court – but here’s a list of seven things that, for various reasons, you never want to hear yourself saying in court.

Number 1: “Your Honor, could I please have a moment to sort out this technical issue.” The middle of trial is not the place to fix your technical glitches – yet one hears lawyers utter this sentence all the time. With few exceptions, technical problems are almost entirely preventable. And in any case, you always have a backup plan, right? Take a look at these related articles for more background on this:

Number 2: “My client.” I believe the phrase “my client” should be banished from the lexicon of all litigators….

things not to say in court

Read more here:

http://www.a2lc.com/blog/bid/68380/7-things-you-never-want-to-say-in-court?source=Blog_Email_%5B7%20Things%20You%20Never%20W%5D

Being Persuasive with the Jury

Judge Barbara Lynn gives you some tips about things that you might try not to do when you’re trying to be persuasive to a jury. For instance, pay attention to the quality of your exhibits, stay away from legalese and jargon and communicate effectively with the entire jury. Enjoy these tips and more.

By: Hon. Barbara M. G. Lynn, U.S. District Judge

Know the Difference Between Debate and Trial Advocacy

By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:

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There is a tendency, particularly within law, to equate argumentation and persuasion: How do you persuade? By offering arguments, of course. But that isn’t all of it, or even necessarily the half of it. You win the argument when your point cannot be refuted, but you persuade only when your target is convinced. Over the years, most formats of academic debate have clearly chosen argument over persuasion. No self-respecting debate judge would admit that they are siding with the winner because they more fully understand and accept that side’s advocacy. Instead they will say, often in excruciating detail…

Read more here:

http://www.persuasivelitigator.com/2013/10/know-the-difference-between-debate-and-trial-advocacy.html

Witness Tip: Anxiety is the #1 Barrier Affecting Communication

By Merrie Jo Pitera, Ph.D.

There are communication stumbling blocks to any public speaking event, be it speaking in front of a group of people or testifying during deposition or at trial. Each comes with its own level of stress and anxiety for anyone and for a variety of reasons. Understanding the source of a person’s anxiety can help a witness begin to keep his fears at bay (they really never go away) and focus on the content of his testimony. The potential sources for anxiety listed below are certainly common

Read more here:

http://www.litigationinsights.com/witness-preparation-2/witness-tip-anxiety-is-the-1-barrier-affecting-communication/