Consider How You Come Across With the Volume Off

By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:

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We know communication is visual and not just verbal. But when litigators think of that, they tend to think of demonstrative exhibits and technology. But what about themselves? As a speaker, you’re making a visual impression as well. Most know the basics: stand up straight, look the jury or judge in the eye, use a few gestures. But in practice, attorneys want to expect that in court, content is king and what we say matters more than how we look when we say it. But some surprising research shows that more than we expect is coming through the visual channel.

The studies use the technique of asking research participants to assess a communicator without the aid of sound. Watching a music competition with the sound off, for example, (Tsay, 2013) both amateur and professional musicians were able to correctly predict the competition winners, and did so at a level that was better than those who heard and those who both heard and saw the performance. Similarly, experimental participants unfamiliar with the candidates were able to identify the election winner after simply watching ten-second silent video clips of a gubernatorial debate (Benjamin & Shapiro, 2009). As with the music competition research, turning the sound on tended to worsen the accuracy.

 

Read more here:

http://www.persuasivelitigator.com/2013/09/consider-how-you-come-across-with-the-volume-off.html

Nailing a Presentation in the First 60 Seconds

Whether you are making a presentation at your local library or to senior executives at your firm, the first 60 seconds set you up for success or failure.

Everything most precious to me in this world is the result of the first 60 seconds of a speech I gave on a cold day in Philadelphia. It was my turn to speak during a Wharton MBA Toastmasters program; I would be given a topic, and then would have to begin without advance preparation.

My topic: explain why MBAs aren’t all greedy jerks.

Terrified of boring the audience, I decided to flip the topic and embrace the dark side. My speech was a rant about how MBAs are all-powerful masters of the universe (note to readers: I was kidding.)

The first 60 seconds you spend in front of an audience are pivotal. If you’re nervous or too excited, time can be a blur. But this is when the audience decides whether or not they like you, and it’s your best opportunity to get in a groove that will guide you through the rest of your presentation.

I’d like to make the following suggestions:

Plan your opening in advance. You should know exactly…

Read more here:

http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130918033719-36792-nailing-a-presentation-in-the-first-60-seconds

Know Your Fallacies When Presenting in Court

By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:

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Remember the list of fallacies? For many of us, it might fall in the category of things we learned at one point in our lives, probably in a logic or communication class, and then mostly set aside in our practical lives. After all, it can seem a little pedantic, or even arrogant, to call them out. “Hey, that’s a fallacy!” isn’t likely to work when examining a witness or persuading a jury. You could point out, “Your honor, opposing counsel is resorting to the common tu quoque or, ‘you too’ fallacy, in pointing to my discovery behavior in order to defend his own.” That isn’t likely to get you very far either. So is it worth it to remember and use the fallacies at all?

Some Common Fallacies of Legal Persuasion

Fallacies are ways of arguing that seem to offer proof or persuasive merit, while not actually contributing support. In that sense of being pleasing counterfeits, they’re as much psychological as they are logical. Here are the ones that I think are most common in our context.

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc: ‘After this, therefore because of this’ or, as the book refers to it, ‘Not a cause, for a cause.’

Shortly after the product redesign, that’s when the complaints and incidents started to occur…

Read more here:

http://www.persuasivelitigator.com/2013/09/know-your-fallacies.html

Don’t Overlook This Simple Yet Effective Point in Your Presentation

by: Bethany Auck

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There is no more greatly undervalued place on a presentation slide than the title field. Too often, title fields are filled with vague descriptors, packed with unnecessary verbage, or, worse, skipped all together (e.g. the Zimmerman trial prosecution slides). Slide titles have great real estate and should be put to use. Here are five rules of thumb for powerful slide titles.

1. Don’t Label

Labeling a slide with a vague descriptor may be the most common titling fail. Titles like “Revenue Chart,” and “Conclusion” are all too common and sometimes appear on several slides in a row. Nothing could be more useless for the audience.

A title is not a label; it is a headline. What specific information is this slide sharing? If multiple slides in the deck have the same headline, there are likely too many slides.

2. Argue

Even specific titles, while a vast improvement, fall short of their full potential. A title like “2014 Revenue Goals” is specific to its content, but falls short of driving home the argument of the slide. “2014: Increasing Revenue Via Product A” further clarifies the inherent argument of the data. Not only should a slide headline be specific to its exact content, but it should argue your point and lay bare a specific takeaway message. It should answer the question, What does this slide want to prove? What should the audience

Read more here:

http://visualsugar.wordpress.com/2013/07/31/slide-design-5-tips-for-hardworking-titles/?goback=.nmp_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1.gmp_3809594.gde_3809594_member_262383245

Looking to Engage Multiple Audiences at Trial? Try this…

By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:

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If you returned with me to Shakespeare’s original theater, the Globe in London around 1600, you would notice one important architectural feature: There is a gallery and there is a pit. The gallery, the seats in the bleachers that ring the outside of the theater, are the pricier seats occupied by the more well-to-do theater goers. The pit, the straw-covered floor of the theater, is where the less affluent would stand and watch the show. Based on this class difference, there is also a difference in the kind of show that each audience wants to see….

A recent panel at the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco focused on what Shakespeare had to say to lawyers (it turns out the ‘first, kill all the lawyers” thing is presented as a route to tyranny). I wasn’t able to attend, but I do wonder if the panel touched on this “multiple audiences” lesson from Shakespeare. Litigators addressing a jury have the same need for complexity in focus. But in addition to addressing differences in social class, age, education, race, and gender, attorneys are also speaking to differences in whether jurors are naturally favorable or naturally skeptical of your kind of case.

Read more here:

http://www.persuasivelitigator.com/2013/08/learn-from-the-bard-engage-multiple-audiences.html

Communicate More Effectively: Tune Your Witness’s Tone of Voice

Tune Your Witness’s Tone of Voice

By Dr. Shelley Spiecker:

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A few days ago I was helping prepare a successful CEO for testimony in an upcoming arbitration. The case boiled down to a dispute between two shareholders with one advocating for dissolution of their agreement and the other seeking to keep the agreement in force. My client’s testimony and credibility would be crucial to the case. A high self-monitor, he quickly picked up on my recommendations for posture, eye contact, and other key nonverbal credibility cues. One impediment remained – a tendency to end sentences with an upward vocal inflection. While infrequent, this “uptalking” had the overall effect of making him appear uncertain and less believable than desired.

Ironically, while vocal characteristics speak volumes in terms of impression formation, they can often be one of the more difficult aspects of witness presentation to change. Sager suggests that scientifically voice sounds different to the speaker than it does to the listener, a key reason it can be difficult for many witnesses to self-correct their vocal cues.

Recent research suggests that making the effort to assess vocal quality and enhance vocal effectiveness can pay off.

Read more here:

http://www.persuasivelitigator.com/2013/05/what-are-your-witnesses-saying-when-they-speak.html

How Great Leaders Communicate and How It Applies to Litigation

This article addresses ways in which great leaders communicate within their businesses, but if you read closely, you’ll see parallels where these communication strategies can be used inside the courtroom as well.  For example, “Bringing the vision to life” is not only about being able to support your mission statement in business, but also creating supporting anchors for your themes during trial.  You can also view “Ask smart questions” as a way of exposing opposing counsel’s weaknesses, but posing questions to the jury about what they are missing.

What other parallels do you see?

by: George Anders

I’m in favor of traveling 70% of the way down that road with Groysberg and Slind, without becoming so chatty that you lose the ability to stretch people’s horizons. Over the past 25 years, as a business-book author and writer for the likes of Forbes, Fast Company and The Wall Street Journal, I’ve seen a lot of corporate leaders in action. Here are seven ways that the best leaders increase their effectiveness by the ways they communicate.

1. Bring the vision to life. Anyone can write a mission statement, full of lofty words that sound good. But you aren’t communicating that vision unless you repeatedly signal how those values translate into concrete actions. What people learn from your routine decision-making matters far more than what you pack into your speeches.

A case in point: Jeff Bezos’s insistence that Amazon.com is “the most customer-centric company in the world.” Nice slogan. What does it really mean? Hang around the Amazon CEO for a while, and you will notice that he vetoes sassy ads that mock customers. He insists that mid-level meetings include one person serving solely as the customer advocate – with the power to veto actions that undermine customers’ interests. And when Amazon reorganizes departments, which it does fairly often, each regrouping is justified as a way of serving the customer better.

In the same spirit, bring your bedrock values into the daily workplace. Salute other people’s actions that reinforce what you prize. Call out conduct that doesn’t. And infuse these principles into other people’s thought patterns by referencing key values as decisions are being made.

2. Ask smart questions. In his new book, “To Sell Is Human,” best-selling author Daniel H. Pink cites studies showing that when you want to persuade someone, questions can be more powerful than statements. The reason: you engage another person’s heart and mind more strongly. You get him or her thinking about the ideal answer – and then all the steps necessary to get there. By being less dogmatic, you let people on your team build game plans that they believe in, rather than trapping them in a helpless state until you issue your next command.

Read more here:

http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130120173044-59549-how-great-leaders-communicate?trk=eml-mktg-inf-m-top13-0827-p7

Beware of the Anti-Theme in Your Case

By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:

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We’ve written frequently on themes: those little nuggets of language and meaning that distill a case to its persuasive essence. As consultants, we create themes even more frequently, trying to find the right message to leverage a case’s greatest strengths while minimizing or reframing its most important weaknesses. By definition, a theme is a simple message that helps an audience see your case in its most favorable terms. But based on some recent research, there is also a mirror image of that: an ‘anti-theme’ in the form of the condensed message that would turn off your audience and turn them away from your case. Considering these anti-themes when working on the contours of your message can help you know what to avoid and what to preempt in your trial strategy.

The study (Gromet, Kunreuther & Larrick, 2013) focuses on consumer choices…

Read more here: http://www.persuasivelitigator.com/2013/05/beware-the-anti-theme.html

Ask a Mentor: The Importance of Listening

By Edward Romero – January 15, 2013

Many skills are needed for trial work. One that is often overlooked is the art of listening. As the late Dean Rusk reportedly said, “the best way to persuade people is with your ears—by listening to them.” This is good advice from a former lawyer, Rhodes Scholar, and the longest-serving United States secretary of state after Cordell Hull.

Like peeling an onion, understanding a case often consists of exposing multiple layers of long-forgotten facts that, when revealed, can be distressing, embarrassing, and emotionally painful. No one enjoys revealing secrets, especially those that are humiliating or that can lead to social stigma or imprisonment. Yet, a trial lawyer must do just that: glean from reluctant clients intimate and unpleasant facts that are needed to represent them properly. This is achieved by developing trust, and the best way to do this is by listening. People with legal problems want to talk. And the more they talk, the easier it becomes for them to disclose secrets and reveal confidences that have remained hidden, sometimes for years. In so doing, a client will develop confidence in his or her attorney, not because of the attorney’s experience in the subject matter, but because the attorney has taken the time to understand the client’s concerns and listen to the client’s fears. The attorney has become a confidant and, in so doing, has developed a trust with a client that might otherwise have taken a long time to develop

Read more here:

http://apps.americanbar.org/litigation/committees/minority/articles/fallwinter2013-0113-ask-a-mentor.html

The Perils of Arrogance in Preparation

By:

Trial attorneys, by nature, have (or at least display) a great deal of confidence.  It’s an essential component of the job. Success in the courtroom demands confidence.  And this confidence is well-earned. After all, you must be doing something right to be where you’re at in your career. But don’t let that confidence create unnecessary barriers. A law degree is not a certification in effective communication.  Thinking through an idea is a fundamentally different task than communicating that idea. Attorneys supremely capable of the former still struggle with the latter, perhaps because communication is so fundamental to our existence that it’s easy to assume we are naturally skilled at it.  That would be false. Perhaps we tend to forget that, while our own ideas are immediately and clearly accessible to us in our minds, they need to be packaged as best as we can in words and images for others to  understand. The challenge is akin to trying to share with a friend the experience of viewing a Picasso by merely describing it to him or her. Even the best words fall short.  Here’s three areas where effective communication often departs from effective strategy at trial:

Read more here:

http://tsongas.com/blog-posts/my-38-minute-5k-and-the-perils-of-arrogance-in-preparation-buy-now-and-get-a-free-zimmerman-epilogue-and-keychain/