7 Tips To Help You Become A Better Communicator
The most effective trial lawyers I’ve had the pleasure of trying cases against don’t use big words or unnecessarily complicate the uncomplicated. They keep things simple and share easy to understand stories. Without exception, the very best speak from the heart and rarely use notes.
You can do the same thing and in this post, I share specific tips and resources to help you get started with mastering the art of communication.
The communication tips I’m sharing are not always easy, but they are necessary. It really doesn’t matter what you do in life. If you want to be successful, you must learn the art of persuasive communication.
Does this take a bit of courage to put yourself out there and learn some of these new techniques? Sure it does. But that’s OK because you’re not alone and with a little work and effort, you can do it!
Embrace the Flinch!
Truth be told, most people “flinch” when they try something new. When all said and done, they give up before ever giving themselves the opportunity to succeed.
When it comes to learning how to be a better communicator, I think this happens because it takes a bit courage to learn these approaches and then stand up in front of an audience. People let fear interfere with their success.
I want to share a little secret with you. At the start of every single jury trial I’ve had over the last 30 years (and there’s been a lot), I’ve always flinched, been a bit nervous and sometimes even afraid. After the first couple of minutes of my opening statement this feeling goes away and I start to have some fun. It’s natural and I want you to know that it’s OK to feel this way.
Good lawyers who care about their clients are always a bit afraid at the start of a trial. Why? Because we know the outcome of our client’s case rest upon our shoulders. In jury trials, we also know whether our client wins or loses depends on what 12 strangers think about us, the facts, and the evidence in our case. We know that a great deal of what happens is beyond our control.
Any trial lawyer that tells you otherwise either doesn’t care that much about the client or is just not telling you the truth.
Before you read any further, take a moment and read “The Flinch” by Julien Smith (you can thank me later).
Four Communication Success Tips
Despite how I feel before trial, I always remind myself to do four simple things.
(1) Prepare correctly;
(2) Show up (as Woody Allen once said, “”90% of success is just showing up”);
(3) Stand up when it’s my time to talk;
(4) Start communicating.
Because steps #2–4 are self-explanatory, let’s take a minute to break down step #1 in to 7 sub-parts. I think this is where most people drop the ball.
Your Path To Persuasion
To help you prepare, use these five steps (click here) to structure your message to engage the listener and maximize its impact.
Use The Power of Story
While communicating, use the power of story. After all, facts tell, but stories sell.
Tell your stories in a way that takes your audience puts them smack dab right into the middle of your story. Take them by the hand and back into time. Let them see, taste, smell, feel, hear and touch what it is you’re sharing. Watch this video and follow the advice and tips of 1999 World Champion of Public Speaking, Crag Valentine.
Use metaphors so that by the time you’re done with your presentation, your audience members will feel like they were hit by an unexpected tsunami. In today’s noisy and busy world, it’s important to keep things short and sweet. Less is better.
I often tell young trial lawyers that a good opening statement is like a woman’s skirt. It should be long enough to cover the subject matter, but short enough to keep things interesting (did I just say that?). My go to metaphor expert is Anne Miller.
Make an Impact
Communicate in a way that will encourage a memorable, lasting message that influences others to take the desired action. Learn how to do this by reading and applying the concepts found in “The Impact Equation” (Impact = C x (R + E + A +T + E) by Chris Brogan and Julian Smith.
Learn How To Fascinate Others and Stand Out From The Crowd
It’s a noisy world out there. Time and attention are our two biggest assets. In her must read book “Stand Out”, Dorie Clark shows you how to get your voice heard, build a following and become a recognized expert on your topic of interest.
Learning how to stand out and fascinate your audience are important communication tools. Read these books!
Start being “you” and stop trying to be like everyone else. Do this and your confidence and transparency will build long-term trust.
Along these same lines, learn how to communicate in a way that builds trust and promotes group action. Work hard to become a trust agent (read “Trust Agents” by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith
Develop and consistently build perceived and actual value of going about things, including your communication efforts, from a different perspective than everyone else. Become a Linchpin! Read “Linchpin” by Seth Godin.
None of the resources I mentioned were written by lawyers. They do not have anything to do with the law. And that’s a good thing.
These tools, approaches, and resources have EVERYTHING to do with me continuing to develop my skills as a successful trial lawyer. They’ve allowed me to communicate in court unlike most of the other lawyers in town and in some cases, get results for my clients that nobody thought was possible.
I think that if you follow these steps and take advantage of these resources, you’ll be able to do the same thing in your business, occupation or profession. After you’ve put these steps into action (and that’s key — you must take action), please let me know how one or more of these resources helped you!
Mitch Jackson is an award winning California Trial Lawyer who in 2013 was named one of California’s Litigation Lawyers of the Year. In 2009 he was also recognized as one of Orange County’s Trial Lawyers of the Year.
Connect with Mitch on Twitter @MitchJackson and through his law firm JacksonandWilson.com. Many of Mitch’s live streaming videos are shared at Streaming. Lawyer and his popular weekly talk show is TheShow.live