Friday, December 31, 2010

Harness Jurors’ Wandering Minds: New Science

New research from Harvard University psychologists (Matthew A. Killingsworth & Daniel T. Gilbert) shows that people spend 46.9% of their waking hours “wandering”--thinking about what isn’t going on around them, what happened in the past, what might happen in the future or never at all. Which wouldn’t be such a big deal, except that, as the scientists put it: “A wandering mind is an unhappy mind.” People aren’t happy about what they’re thinking about during their “wandering” times.

How is this relevant to your trial practice? Well, if you aren’t keeping your jurors’ minds engaged, those minds are wandering. The likelihood of their attributing the unhappiness their wandering conjures up to your less-than-compelling presentation rather than their own meanderings, is high. Unhappy people don’t tend to favor those who make them unhappy! There goes your successful case...

All the more reason to do your level best to make your courtroom time count. Get to the point, be succinct, develop hard-hitting bullets and emotional catch-phrases. Use visuals of all kinds – models, boards, animations, power-point (the complex type, not just words on a slide) – and anything else your graphics support staff can dream up. Use focus groups to help you nail what matters to jurors and hone in on that.

The more you keep the jurors’ minds on your track, the less they are inclined to wander, the greater your chances of success.

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