by Ken Lopez
The importance of developing a strong narrative in your case is well-established by science and by what we have all observed in the actions of jurors in real cases. In spite of the law that may be against you, in spite of the facts that may be against you, a high-quality narrative can win a case.
We've written about this extensively and articles like Storytelling Proven to be Scientifically More Persuasive, 5 Essential Elements of Storytelling and Persuasion, and $300 Million of Litigation Consulting and Storytelling Validation provide a good background on the power of story, whether in a case tried to a jury or to a judge.
Great litigators don't push back on the need for story anymore. Indeed, they arrive at our doors in quest of ways to fine-tune their narrative and make it more convincing. We help them by testing any number of possible approaches, by conducting practice opening statements, and by developing a persuasive visual presentation for the litigators.
One bit of pushback that we do continue to hear is about injecting emotion into a case. Particularly from defense-side clients, we hear that all that’s needed and appropriate is a narrative – but that in this particular case, the narrative need not be compelling and emotional.
The dispute is not over whether emotional appeals are helpful in general; most litigators agree with us that they are. The dispute relates to the question of whether there is any plausible emotion to squeeze out of a particular case. After all, many of our cases are seemingly dry patent cases, contract cases, or product liability cases. Just explaining the issues in a nontechnical way is time-consuming and difficult. How would one go about adding emotion?
Well, it’s not as difficult as you may think. I saw this video recently that can indisputably show litigators that even the driest material can have an emotional story attached to it.
Of all things, it is an air safety video, the type you’ve seen dozens of times on plane flights, and ignored dozens of times. It is the safety video you now see when you prepare for takeoff on Qantas Airlines. Even though I'm in the emotion-driven litigation consulting business and I am accustomed to finding emotional levers where others might not, I still think this simple video is a wonderful achievement. Take a look.
We're all familiar with the messages in this video and we've even probably seen other videos like it. And that's the point. Notice how this one makes you feel. It makes you pay attention and stay engaged.
If emotion can be used, appropriately, to remind you to fasten your seatbelt, it can also be used to convey strong feelings about a courtroom presentation. I invite you to ask us how we might do that for your trial team.
Other articles and resources related to litigation consulting and storytelling on A2L Consulting's site:
- Conflict check: Be the first to retain A2L
- Don't Be Just Another Timeline Trial Lawyer
- Free Download: Top 50 A2L Litigation Consulting Articles of All Time!
- Your Trial Presentation Must Answer: Why Are You Telling Me That?
- Are You Smarter Than a Soap Opera Writer?
- 10 videos to help litigators get better at telling stories at trial
- What is Visual Persuasion and What Do You Need to Know About It?
- Free Webinar: Storytelling for Litigators
- 11 Things Your Colleagues Pay Litigation Consultants to Do
- 21 Reasons a Litigator Is Your Best Litigation Graphics Consultant
- Free Download: Storytelling for Litigators
- 5 Essential Elements of Storytelling and Persuasion
- Storytelling Proven to be Scientifically More Persuasive