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/

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

A Trial Consutlant’s Thoughts on Presenting Scientific Concepts

by Chris Dominic

As humans, we have the problem of forgetting what it was like to not know something once we know it. Our overconfidence in our ability to communicate information of this sort has been documented in experiment after experiment. Think about back to before you knew what a hasty generalization was. You probably committed this fallacy often and could not have noticed when others did the same. Try and imagine back before you understood the concept of probability. Did the concept of normal distribution seem like magic, a cult belief, or just like gobbledegook?

So what does this mean for the advocate who has to persuade using scientific evidence as a part of their job?

Read more here:

http://scienceinthecourtroom.com/index.php/guest-commentary/51-christopher-dominic-a-trial-consultants-thoughts

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

15 Tips for Great Customer Service from the Restaurant Industry

by Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

I have a CEO friend who says she won’t hire someone who’s never had experience working in a restaurant. And she’s not in the restaurant business. She just thinks that one of the best places one can get trained in customer service is waiting tables in some form.

And whoever you are – outside counsel, litigation support staff, consultant, or in-house counsel – client service is an essential. How do you develop that skill?

I’ve always felt that you can learn as much going to great restaurants about customer service as you can in the Ritz Carlton’s hospitality training. Great waitstaff know how to make the experience work.

Here are fifteen tips for providing great service that I learned from the restaurant business.

  1. Set expectations. Most disputes arise from differences in expectations. This is especially true in customer service. Helping people understand what to expect and when to expect it is critical. If you’re going to share the draft brief, the client needs to know that it is a draft. If you’re going to share trial exhibits in draft form with the client they need to understand the difference between the draft and final from your perspective.

Read more tips here:

http://www.a2lc.com/blog/bid/67138/15-Tips-for-Great-Customer-Service-from-the-Restaurant-Industry?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+a2lc+%28The+Litigation+Consulting+Report+from+A2L+Consulting%29

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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

How to Correctly Manage Exhibits at Trial

By: Ted Brooks

Exhibits are the building blocks of litigation, and if you end up at the short end in the battle of admitted evidence, you lose the trial. Like many sports, coming in second place in trial is not really a good thing. While you may have to play the hand you’ve been dealt, you do have options as to how you manage and present your evidence.
For purposes of this article, we will assume that you have a large volume of documents – although the recommendations and best practices shared may be applied to cases of any size.
Organizing the Data

You may already be onto the idea that finding what you need during trial is fairly important. Setting up a reliable data structure can mean the difference of finding that key document in a hurry, or not finding it at all. This relates to naming and structuring of folders and files. While there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong way, there are definitely good and bad ways for this.

Read more here:

http://trial-technology.blogspot.com/2013/04/managing-exhibits-in-trial.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

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

How Interactive Timelines Build and Strengthen Opening Statements

By

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Timelines are probably one of the most common things we create at Cogent Legal for clients in all types of cases. Employment, business and personal injury cases are ideally suited for laying out the facts in chronological order to enhance jury understanding. When discussing the various options of timelines with clients, there are basically two main types to consider: Static and Interactive.

A static timeline can be done on a blow-up board and shown to the jury during any key moment of the case. The downside of a static timeline is that, unless it is really simple with only a few entries, you risk overwhelming the audience with so much information at once that it can be hard for them to understand.

For this reason, we generally recommend attorneys start with an interactive timeline that shows events one at a time so that the jury focuses on a single point as the attorney makes it. The interactive format also allows for document treatments so you can choose a button to reveal key documents that relate to the timeline entry.

Read more here:

http://cogentlegal.com/blog/2013/03/interactive-timelines-for-opening-statements/