Successful Trial Lawyers Use Storytelling to Connect with the Jury
Not everyone will enjoy the same type of story. Some people like tragedies, some like comedies. Furthermore, connecting with everybody is hard. But it’s not impossible.
There are certain elements of stories audiences from all different backgrounds, with all different interests will enjoy.
When it comes to the courtroom, the most successful lawyers are those who can quickly develop rapport with the jury and tell them a story they will never forget. Mock juries are a great way to test out the emotional impact of your closing arguments.
Traits of a Great Trial Lawyer
Judge Mark Bennett published a list of 8 traits which he believes makes for the quintessential trial lawyer. While all 8 of the points provide excellent guidance for courtroom attorneys, three of them stick out above the rest with regards to storytelling and jury connection:
1 Preparation. As the Stoic philosopher Seneca stated: “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” While one could argue that luck is always involved to some extent with courtroom proceedings, this does not absolve trial lawyers from being prepared for whatever may happen during the trial. Preparing, practicing, revising, and being ready to shift the direction of the courtroom story are some of the best preparatory skills to have as a trial lawyer. 2 Excellent Listening Skills. It may sound counterintuitive, but to be a superlative storyteller, one needs to be a great listener as well. Listening to the tone, inflections, and content of witness testimony, as well as anyone else who may be speaking during the trial is a phenomenal skill to have and one that many trial lawyers neglect in favor of those that involve the “talking” portion of storytelling. To be great at something, one must practice and study the art from multiple angles. Listening to both excellent and poor storytellers is a good way to take courtroom storytelling skills to the next level. 3 Raconteur Ability. The word raconteur sounds fancy and exciting. Denotatively, it just refers to someone who is great at telling stories. But connotatively, and perhaps more importantly, raconteurs are the storytellers that everyone wants to hear speak: the storytellers that people will travel for miles to hear them deliver their tales. Courtroom lawyers should start thinking of themselves as raconteurs. They should create such compelling stories that people will want to look back after the fact just to admire the skillful ability of the trial attorney in question.
Telling a Story That Everyone Wants to Hear
When discussing storytelling ability, sometimes the most obvious way to craft an appealing story is overlooked: what do YOU look for in a story? If you like stories for a certain reason, odds are many other people in the world will as well. Trial lawyers should strive to understand the art of storytelling so that they can connect with anyone who might hear their story.
It’s not an easy skill to master for most. Becoming a great storyteller takes a lot of practice, time and dedication. But it a skill that is well worth the effort. You can gauge your effectiveness by utilizing a mock jury to finalize arguments.