Have you ever been in the middle of presenting a critical piece of evidence to support your case and feel like the jury just isn’t listening?
It’s a feeling that many litigators experience, both novice and seasoned.
As a litigator, you know that your success hinges on your ability to persuasively present evidence and tell your client’s story. That also means that you must keep the jury’s focus throughout the entirety of a case.
So, how can you ensure that the jury is not only paying attention to you, the evidence and witness testimony, but also that what you are saying actually sticks with them when they enter into deliberation?
Here are three powerful persuasion strategies that top litigators use to captivate jurors and keep the jury engaged.
Put The Jury In The Moment
The best litigators are master storytellers, and master storytellers know how to captivate their audience. They put them in the moment and keep them on the edge of their seat. Their audience hangs onto every word, eagerly anticipating each turn of events.
One simple way in which master storytellers (and effective litigators) hold their audience’s attention is by telling their story in present tense.
Using the present tense creates immediacy, and places jurors smack dab in the middle of the story you are attempting to tell. By speaking in the present tense, even when you’re presenting evidence, the jury sees the events unfolding as you speak.
Not only should you use the present tense when addressing the jury, but you should also coach your witnesses to use the present tense when testifying. Start by rephrasing your questions. Instead of “What did you see?,” ask instead “What do you see?” Again, it’s not “What did you do?,” but “What are you doing?”
Taking your witnesses and jury back in time and placing them squarely in the middle of the action will keep them focused and engaged.
Keep An Eye On Your Timing
If you want to ensure that your jury is focused and alert when presenting important evidence, then you should pay special attention to timing. Timing is critical to every aspect of your case: the presentation of evidence, witness testimony and even your objections.
People tend to remember the first and last thing that they hear, also known as primacy and recency. Litigators that understand how to capture a jury’s attention keep this in mind, presenting their strongest evidence at the beginning and the end of their arguments.
But good timing can also be literal. For instance, you should always present your most important evidence when the jury is most alert. That could mean first thing in the morning, right after lunch or shortly after a recess. Speaking of recesses, you should never be afraid to request a recess if you feel the jury’s attention waning.
Being intentional about your timing is just one more step you can take to maximize your litigation strategy.
Add Sensory Variety
Ever sit through a lecture with a monotone professor. It’s hard to pay attention, right? Litigators that fail to provide sensory variety will fail to capture and keep a jury’s attention.
How can you add sensory variety during trial? You can try raising and lowering your voice to emphasize important points, use sweeping hand gestures to pull a jury’s attention, or touch and move visual aids about the courtroom.
By creating sensory variety, you can avoid losing the jury’s attention and ensure that their energy levels are high throughout the case.
Developing a winning trial strategy takes more than thorough preparation; your presentation of the evidence must be engaging and memorable. These three simple persuasion strategies – using present tense, being mindful or timing and adding sensory variety – will help you become a more effective advocate for your clients.