Tell me more

Once upon a time . . .

And every day . . .

Until one day . . .

And because of that . . .

And because of that . . .

Until one day . . .

And ever since . . .

Since the dawn of time, people have been captivated by story.  If there is a point that we need to illustrate, give an example that illustrates the point, don’t explain it – it will stay in the audience’s mind and they will relate to it.  The same applies with explaining to the jury why our client is entitled to recover damages in a lawsuit – if you explain why, they might intellectually understand what you are saying, but they will not internalize it.

In working on the opening statement in a case with another attorney over the weekend, I recalled the importance of keeping the action of the story moving – if the listener is not thinking “tell me more,” the storyteller is missing something.  If the listener is thinking “go back and tell me more about that,” but the storyteller is talking about something else, he’s lost the audience.  It’s easy to get lost in the details, and for a storytelling to devolve into an explanation – but explanations do not hold an audience’s attention and explanations are not easily internalized.

I think of books by John Grisham, and the Harry Potter books, books that I could not put down once I began reading them, and I realize that what kept me reading was the mini-cliffhangers at the end of each chapter.  As I near the end of a chapter, I want to know more, and the suspense keeps me turning the page – what happens next?  The jury should have the same feeling when we are telling our client’s story – tell me more.

Trackbacks & Pings

  • Every successful case starts with an act of imagination – Trial Theory :

    […] People are captivated by story – it has been this way since the dawn of time in every culture around the world.  Explanations can be persuasive, but effective storytelling allows a jury to experience a thing, to visualize it, see it and relate to it.  It is easy for an opening statement or a closing argument to devolve into an explanation or even a rant, but when the storyteller gets lost in the details, the audience is lost.  Explanations do not hold an audience’s attention, and you want the jury to be thinking, “tell me more.” […]

    7 years ago

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