Wanna know why you aren’t getting the big verdicts?
Lack of emotion in opening.
Look, I know you’ve been told you can’t get angry or cry, but that’s some bullshit.
IF you don’t get emotional at trial, jurors can’t get emotional, and emotion drives action.
Check out the podcast for more.
EPISODE 172 TRANSCRIPTION
Sari de la Motte:
Well, hello, darlings. How are you? How is your summer going? I am so excited to be with you today. And we're going to talk about how much emotion, or should you show, or how much... What did I call this one? Let me look. How much emotion should I show in opening? There it is. Now we've got it. Okay.
But before we talk about that, which is a really juicy, awesome topic, I want to talk about some emails. So are you getting my love notes? That's what I'm calling them. So if you're not getting our love notes, you need to go to fromhostagetohero.com and sign up. I think at the bottom... Actually, let me get on there right now. At the bottom of fromhostagetohero.com, you can sign up. Not totally at the bottom. But you can sign up for my shit, whatever's on my brilliant fucking mind is what our marketing team has put in there.
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Okay. Let's talk about this concept of how much emotion to show in opening statement, because this has been coming up a lot in the crew, and there's a lot of resistance to showing emotion. I talked four or five podcasts ago about the journey from presentation to performance. And this is where I'm thinking y'all are getting it wrong, is that you believe that an opening statement is delivering information. And as I said in that podcast, if that's what you believe, that's what you believe it's for, then why don't we just type up our opening statements and just have the jury read it. Right? You are not needed at all in that scenario. No, what we are needing to do is to motivate the jurors to act.
Let's go back to the CTFAR model for a minute. What actually creates action. The CTFAR model, again, is circumstance, that's the C, T is the thought, F is the feeling, A is the action, R is the result. Let's just take a look at the TFA part. We have a thought about something that creates a feeling, and then that produces an action. So notice how just, if we go to the F and the A, the feeling is what creates the action. Emotion is what drives human beings, period. End of story. So if you want to motivate jurors, which is, again, the hard thing about your job as plaintiff attorneys is you got to motivate jurors to do something, the easiest thing to do is to just sit back and do nothing. You've got to tap in to emotion.
Now, there's some caveats, and I'm going to show you that at the end of this. There's particularly one question and one caveat, one kind of warning. Right? So we're going to talk about that, but here's what I continue to hear from you, is that you can't feel. You can't cry. You can't get angry. Right? And what I'm here to say is that is bullshit. It's bullshit. I firmly believe that the reason why you are saying those things is because you have a resistance to being emotional. I think most of us do. It's a vulnerability. When we're talking about this whole idea of having range and being more emotional in trial, let's go back to that whole idea of the devil's advocate question. Right? So I talked about this in several podcasts recently about how you cannot use the devil's advocate question unless you are using a different tone of voice. And so Kristi Foster, who is our resident vocal coach here at H2H, she is awesome. If you want to get a free vocal assessment or free breathwork assessment, go to saridlm.com.
I know, it's all confusing. That's why we've hired a branding team. And we're going to go to one website in a couple weeks, but just stick with me. Saridlm.com, Meet Sari, and scroll down to her. And you can just do it right there. You can get a free vocal assessment.
But here's what she put in our H2H group here recently. She said, I've been coaching around this a lot lately, and it came up again today in Voir Dire circle. Here are some late night thoughts on the devil's advocate question. There's resistance to making your voice go outside its natural range. You feel silly. You've not used your voice in that way before. It's not how you normally speak, but you are not in normal circumstances. It's time to try some new things. Doing a devil's advocate question is the perfect time to go out of bounds. You must make the question sound ridiculous or you'll end up confusing the jurors. If you use the same vocal pitch, melody, volume, pace and tone that you've used throughout the rest of voir dire, when you are being sincere and earnest, they'll think you're being sincere and earnest now, too.
You've got to make it sound a little ridiculous in order for them to lock in their opinion on your principles. They have to know that the answer and that you know that they know the answer, and this is now just an opportunity for everyone to confirm the answer. It's another chance to form the group and establish yourself as their guide. If you don't take vocal risks, she says, you are sabotaging yourself. Get your voice ridiculously high as you start the question, then let it cascade down towards normal range to finish. Scrunch your face. Gesture. Dare to be ridiculous so that everyone's sanity is confirmed.
Yeah, Kristi is incredible and she's absolutely right. The same resistance is the resistance that you hold for having a emotion in trial. And here's what I will say about that. I had my three VIPs come out in May. These are the people I spend most of my time with in a year's time. I take three every year. And you have to be in the crew to even be considered. So if you want to work with me one on one and change your whole fucking life, because that's what that program does, my VIP program, you got to get in the crew to even get started. It's invitation only. I watch and I look and I see, and I just pick the people that I want to play with for a year. It's awesome.
So they all came out in May, and the jury said consistently, when the person wasn't showing emotion, why aren't you more mad about this? Just think about that for a minute. The jury is looking to you. Again, everything we do at H2H is to create this permission that you have with jurors, that I talked about a couple podcast episodes ago, that they're so receptive to you and there's this rapport that is naturally happening. So they're looking to you now. Now you've created all that great rapport and voir dire. It's opening and you get up there and you just deliver information in a flat tone of voice? It doesn't work. They're confused. They're like, wait, what happened? They didn't do that thing? And you're just acting all normal about it? It's cognitive dissonance.
You have to go first. You have to give them permission to feel. Right? Because as their leader, if you formed the group in voir dire, like we hope that you've done, and you have this great rapport/permission going on, and now we're an opening and you're talking about horrifying things, which all plaintiff cases are... Horrifying abuses, rules that are broken, mangled bodies, death, and you have no emotion around that, the jurors are like, "Well, maybe this isn't a big deal." And you're asking me... I'm going preachy now. Bring up a chair. You're all asking me, why can't I get my verdicts? This is why you fucking can't get your verdicts, because they are loving you and having a great time being in your jury, and then you get up there and you talk about death like it's just having to feed your dog breakfast.
Okay, that was terrible, terrible analogy. I'm terrible at them. But you know what I'm saying? It's like, you can't just ask for a cup of coffee and then say, oh yeah, and somebody died. You got to come behind that with some conviction in your voice. Kevin's going to totally laugh that I just said come behind that. Yeah, I get it, Kevin. Your brain is in the gutter. Okay. But you know what I'm saying? You give the jury permission to feel. Otherwise, it's cognitive distance. Not only that, you set the tone at trial.
We had one of the VIPs do an opening, or he did an opening, and he was like pretty damn near snark, just disgust in his voice at what had happened in this case. The jury fucking loved it. Listen, we can't advocate in opening, right? We're not supposed to be arguing. But you can make your voice sound argumentative. Holy hell yes you can. You can show the jury what you think about this and what they should think about that, because that's the point here. You are teaching the jury what to feel. You are giving them permission to feel. You set the tone at trial. You want big verdicts, you've got to go there emotionally. This is why the crew exists, by the way. This is a big reason why it exists, because we know that how to put an opening statement together, or what questions to ask in voir dire are fucking just the start. That is not going to get you where you need to go.
Okay, let me put some emotion in my voice. That's not going to get you where you need to go. Why? Because you're never going to put emotion in your voice until you feel that you are able to emotionally and vulnerably risk. That's why we have a huge coaching component back there. That's why so many of our members go on and hire our coaches as private coaches, because they know that that's what it takes to be an actual trial attorney who gets the big verdicts. You have to be willing to go here. This isn't a technique or a skill. This is something you need to be willing to do, because you've done your work.
I mean, one of the reasons I was so just magnetized, no, drawn to Rick Friedman when I first met him and I read his On Becoming a Trial Lawyer, is that he said, "Trial work is personal work". Being a trial lawyer is going to really clearly show you who you are. Are you willing to do that work? Because this is what it takes. I mean, jurors... This is not just for performance. Jurors, we know, research based, anybody, not just jurors, make decisions and take action from emotion. If you are an emotionless blob in opening, they ain't going to do shit. You've got to go there. We're talking about this idea of range and having different range and storytelling and all the things.
Our very fabulous Kristi Foster, again, says that when you are using the same tone of voice, it barely goes out of a range, it doesn't go high, it doesn't go low, it doesn't go loud or soft, it doesn't go fast or slow, it's just the same over and over again, the jurors start to tune out. Why? Because they don't think anything new is coming. The same thing is hitting their ear. And they're like, I know what's coming so I can tune out. I can go into my head. I can start thinking about my grocery list. I can be thinking about what I'm going to eat for dinner tonight. But when you have range in your voice and sometimes it's high and sometimes it's low and sometimes it's soft and sometimes it's loud, fast or slow, the jurors never know what's coming.
I mean, I don't think you should go up there and act like a meth, crack head. But we actually had one of our VIPs do that. I said go up there and act like you're on meth. We're not going to tell the jurors, just do it. They loved it. They loved it. Why? It keeps their attention. So maybe you should. I take it back. Maybe you should go up there and act like that. So it not only teaches them how to feel, gives them permission to feel, it teaches them to pay attention.
If you're like, how can I do this for two hours? Sorry, you can't, and you shouldn't, and stop doing two hour fucking openings. Holy hell. That's crazy. 30 minutes, tops. If you can't do it in 30 minutes, you can't do it in two hours. I'm sorry. You just can't. They're going to tune out no matter what you're doing. You can be standing up there dancing naked. They're just going to tune out after two hours. Maybe if it was me with my weird skin boobies, as my daughter calls them.
Did I tell y'all what I ended up doing? I'm an open book. So I didn't have reconstruction. I was going to go flat. And then my doctor's like, "Well, because you're so big breasted..." I was an H, y'all, an H. My husband called them toddler heads. They pretty much wear that size. She said, "We can take all of the breast tissue out," which they can't ever get all of it," And then just roll up this remaining skin and fat, and then give you two little, tiny A cups. And so that's what I did. And they're kind of weird, but I have a little bit of cleavage, so it worked. It worked. Anyways, skin boobies, that's what my daughter calls me.
Okay. Here is the rule of thumb. How do you know how much emotion? Here's the question I want you to ask yourself. Who does it serve? When you are having emotion, because you are overcome with it yourself, that serves you. That's about you and what you're feeling. But when the emotion serves the jury and it serves the situation, and it properly says to the jury, this is tragic or this is anger producing, then it's okay.
When it serves you, when you can't manage that shit on your own, when it becomes about you and your thoughts and feelings and emotions, that's too much. That's the line for me. Who does it serve? If it serves a situation, then go for it. Here's the caveat that I promised I would tell you, is that you never get ahead of the jury emotionally. I think you need to start and show them. But as you start and you set that tone and they're with you now, I don't want you to go so far that there's no room for them. Again, that goes back to our question, who does it serve? So if you start to get so angry, what will happen is, is that the jury will have an opposite reaction. Right? Because we like equilibrium. So if there's too much anger in the room or too much sadness, what the jury will do is they will do the opposite to try to bring us back into equilibrium.
There needs to be just enough. How do you know what that is? You got to play with it. You got to play with it. So you don't want to be so angry or so sad that there's no room for the jury. So that's what I mean by not getting ahead. I should actually change that, because you do have to kind of go first. So it's not get ahead of the jury, it's leave room for the jury. So get in there. Get emotional. Work on your shit. We can help you in the crew. And I love you. I know I was preachy today, and I love you, and you know that's why I'm doing it. Your Finnish mother signing off. Bye bye.
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If you liked this episode topic, check out these others:
- Episode #27 – Three Mistakes You’re Making in Opening
- FB Live Episode – The Three Things Every Opening Needs
- FB Live Episode – Why Your Opening is Only as Good as Your Voir Dire
3 pOWERFUL STRATEGIES TO HELP YOU READ A JUROR'S MIND
Let the Jury Solve Your Problems in 3 Easy Steps
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Use the H2H Funnel Method so that jurors tell YOU the principles of the case instead of you telling THEM.
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