Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Brain Science, Story-Telling and Juror Persuasion

Brain science isn’t just something for your experts to expound. Brain science brings to light compelling ways you can use to convince jurors.

One of the most powerful findings is just how persuasive story-telling is. Straight-forward recitation of facts only engages a certain part of the brain, whereas a full rich story can engage the whole of a person’s brain.

How does this work? Briefly stated, Princeton researcher Uri Hasson explains how the brains of a person telling a story, and the brains of a person listening to that story, synchronize.

In other words, it’s not just the language processing portions of your brain that are activated when you both recount, and listen to, a story--it’s all the other areas of your brain that you would use to experience the events told.

For example, if the scent of a flower were part of the story, one’s sensory cortex would get activated. If the movement of body parts were described, one’s motor cortex would become active.

Professor Hasson concludes that a story is the only way to activate the listener’s brain, such that the listener turns the story into their own idea and experience. They identify, if you will, with the story told, and therein lies the persuasive power.

Story-telling isn’t just a nice way to dress up your case. Story-telling is integral to your ability to persuade the jurors.

And guess what? A simple story is more effective than a complicated one. So keep it simple, yes, but above all--tell the story.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Who Has The Longer Attention Span? Your Juror or A Goldfish?

Recent research reported by the Associated Press:

The average attention span of a human being in 2000: 12 seconds
The average attention span of a human being in 2012: 8 seconds
The average attention span of a goldfish: 9 seconds

Do I have your attention now?!

This is the unfortunate reality you are up against in the courtroom. A goldfish has a longer attention span than today’s average juror . . .

Our attention span has shortened as our world has become more complex, more demanding, and more bite-sized. This is not a put-down of jurors or anyone else. It is simply a reality that is best dealt with, not avoided.

Short sentences, introducing a single idea in a single sentence, pausing between short paragraphs--all these are techniques that will serve you well in assuring you retain juror attention.

Beyond that, use visuals. When well-designed and executed, visuals can encapsulate lengthy explanations which the jurors can grasp in those critical 8 seconds, whereas the verbal explanation--albeit still necessary--may take hours to thoroughly present.