Last week my beloved took over the mic and helped you have a mindset shift around case prep.
This week I expand on his thoughts and tell you how, on a practical level, over-preparation is killing your case.
Give it a listen.
❤️ Love, Sari
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EPISODE 181 TRANSCRIPTION
Welcome, welcome to another episode of From Hostage to Hero. Sari de la Motte back with you. Still suffering a little bit from this cold, flu, whatever the heck this was. It was a doozy. So apologies in advance for any coughing or if my voice sounds weird.
But I'm glad to be with you and I'm glad that you had an opportunity to hear from the love of my life, Kevin de la Motte, last week on why over-preparing is killing your case.
And actually, we're going to do part two today because I thought his podcast was fantastic. Obviously, so many of you did as well! And I wanted to expand upon it.
Before we do that, we're going to do a reader shout-out. This is from the Trial Guides website for the From Hostage to Hero book, by RM, five stars, says:
"Hell yeah. This book will make a positive impact on your legal practice and your life."
Well, hells yeah, it will. Thank you, RM. And if you have not reviewed the book yet or the podcast, you can do so wherever you listen or go to trialguides.com to review the book there.
Well, love this idea that Kevin started last week about how over-preparation is killing your cases.
Because when I ask attorneys what they think wins cases, they'll always say two things. They'll say working hard, which is why y'all work yourselves to death, and preparation.
And what Kevin did so beautifully last week, is point out the three myths around that and the three truths about what actually does win cases. And it's not what you think it is. Now, if you want to go back and listen to what Kevin had to say about that, it's the podcast right before this one.
But working hard and over-preparation is actually killing your cases.
And I'm going to show you why today.
One of the things that I thought was so interesting about the podcast last week is when Kevin said that what you're really doing when you're over-preparing is you're chasing a feeling. It's not so much that the preparation is what you're after.
You want to feel a certain way when you go into trial.
And here's what's so important about that - and what he said last week is that you can give yourself that feeling. Meaning if you continually just say, "I need to prepare, I need to prepare," it's a never-ending thing. It's your saboteur that's going to keep telling you that you are not prepared enough, that there's always more to do.
Because here's the news flash: there is always more to do.
100% prepared is not possible.
What you want to feel is that you're ready.
And as I did a podcast a couple weeks ago, maybe it's even been a couple months ago, called Ready is a Decision, Not a Feeling, that's what we're after here.
You decide what it means to be prepared, and you decide that you are ready, and you give yourself that gift.
Instead of leaving it up to your saboteur to continually run you like you're in a hamster wheel until you're so tired and so stressed that you can't actually go in trial and do the things that are actually going to win cases.
Now today, I want to give you a more practical (because Kevin did the mindset shift that you needed last week), about more practical, how this is actually playing out in trial when you are over preparing. Literally how is it literally killing your case. So I'm going to take you through piece by piece in terms of trial.
Let's start with jury selection.
So how is over-preparing killing your case in jury selection? Well, first off, when you're so over-preparing and you've got all this information in your brain, what you do is you stay in your level one listening.
Now we teach here at H2H the three levels of listening.
You've got your level one listening, which is listening to yourself and your internal monologue. Definitely needed at times during trial. But if you stay in level one, that's where we get in trouble.
You have your level two listening, which is listening intently to someone else.
And you have your level three listening, which is listening to what's in the room, what's not being said, your intuition.
We want to spend most of our time in level two and three listening when we're in jury selection.
But when you are over-preparing your cases and your head is full of all the information, you are in your level one. You're trying to put something on the jury instead of sourcing from the jury.
Now, if you haven't gone and taken the free course yet, which is Let the Jury Solve Your Problems in these 3 Easy Steps, you can do so at sariswears.com/training. And that's where I'm going to show you how to let the jury solve your problems by sourcing everything you need from them in jury selection.
But if you're over-preparing and you're seeing this as preparation and hard work, that's what wins cases, right? Facts, evidence.
Evidence has never won a case ever.
It's the jurors deciding in their minds and hearts to right a wrong. That's what wins cases, right? So when you're in your level one and you're not thinking, you're not present with the jurors, you're missing out on all the opportunities for them to solve your problems in voir dire.
You're just waiting to blast them with all this information. You go into jury selection, you do your exclusionary voir dire, get rid of the people who are there to not help you, and then deal with whoever's left. And they just become a fucking side note when they are the centerpiece of everything. That's the first way that over-preparation gets in your way in terms of cases.
The second thing is opening. When you over-prepare, what you do is create an opening that is too fucking long.
Most of your openings are too fucking long.
In our brand new H2H Fundamentals™ class, our masterclass, if you were able to get that when we opened last month, I hope you're enjoying that class. We will reopen soon, for those of you who didn't get in on that and want to learn more about it and go through that process with us.
But in the opening module, there's four modules in that masterclass, I talk about how your opening should not be longer than 30 minutes. Now I know many of you're going to be like, "I need way more time than that." No, you fucking don't.
Because when you have all this over-preparation, all these facts, all these things, you're going to create this really long opening.
Opening is a preview of the evidence. It's not a time to persuade.
Actually, as you know, or maybe you don't know, here at H2H, we don't think you ever have to persuade. Why?
Because you stand on the side of the right.
And when you stand on the side of the right, persuasion is not even something we need to learn how to do or attempt to do. We need to motivate jurors to act.
And what's the number one way we motivate jurors is by getting them to motivate themselves. That happens in jury selection.
So if you've done that in jury selection, because you haven't over-prepared and you recognize that yes, you need to prepare, you need to know what you're doing, absolutely, but you haven't over-prepared, you're rested, you're ready, you're there to connect with the jurors, they're going to solve your problems in voir dire.
Therefore, your opening just needs to give back to them what they gave you in voir dire in a coherent way.
You guys were so right about this. Here's what this case is about. Everything you just said in jury selection. Look at that. Under 30 minutes. But when you have an hour and a half, two and a half, three-hour opening, oh my god, the jurors just tune the fuck out. There is no reason why your openings need to be that long. Period. End of story.
Listen, when you have an opening that long, what you're communicating to your jurors is this case is so complex, it's going to take me three hours to even just tell you what it's about.
If your opening is that complex, you have not done your work.
If your case is that complex, you've not done your work.
All plaintiff cases are simple.
And it takes work to get them simplified and that's where you need to spend your time in terms of preparation. Simplifying it.
Whereas most of you, because there's so mountains of evidence, try to go through every single piece, make sure you've got every single thing covered because you're so worried you're going to get ambushed in trial instead of focusing on how do I simplify this.
Because here's the thing. You will not get ambushed in trial if you make it simple. Look, that's the defense's way is to come in and confuse everything and make everything complex. That's their job. Your job is to make it simple.
Don't start acting like a defense attorney. Make it simple. Over-preparation creates long fucking openings. And that right there out of the gate, you're ignoring the jury, treating them as an afterthought and a long fucking opening. Now we've gotten big problems and we haven't even started the evidence part of trial, all right?
During a trial, how does over-preparation kill your case? Well, you go in there and you start getting fucking pissed at cross-exam, right? Because these guys and gals are lying. Because you've prepared, you're fucking prepared, right? You've done all your preparation and how dare they lie. And you start making it about you.
It's never about you, ever. It's always about the jury. That's what we say here at H2H.
And when you're up there and you're getting pissed off because they're destroying your precious preparation, that's what loses cases right there. Let them hang themselves on the stand. Let the jury get pissed off. It's not fucking about you.
But when you're so invested in preparation, then you make it about you. Because you spent all these hours preparing and how dare they come in and make you wrong? They're going to make you wrong. That's what they're there to do. Accept that.
Focus on the jury, not on your ego with this preparation bullshit.
Closing. How do you kill your cases with over-preparation there? Well then you go and you do this totally fucking boring review of the evidence because you prepared, you know all your facts, and you're going to damn make sure that the jury remembers those facts too, right?
So you're going to really nail it in closing.
And your closing's also going to be three hours long. And you're going to bore the jurors to fucking death because you prepared and you're sure as hell not going to waste that preparation. So they're going to have to go through this. They're going to have to suffer just like you did. And you're going to try to persuade.
Because you really, beneath all of this, don't believe that preparation is what it takes. You have to be super charismatic and persuasive and all the rest of the things. And so then we blow it in closing as well.
Am I getting through to you of how over-preparation is going to kill your case?
It will because it makes you do all these stupid fucking things. And you know why you're doing it? Is because you do not trust, just like Kevin said last week, you do not trust that you are enough.
You do not trust that it's you that wins cases. You being vulnerable, you being with the jury, you connecting with them.
I've had the best fucking trial attorneys in the world in my studio, in this very room, who didn't know how to connect with a jury. They knew how to do everything else. Once they figured out that piece, everything changed for them.
Over-preparation is killing your cases because you're hiding behind it.
You're using that to buoy you up and say, "Well, at least I can prepare because I'm not really that great, but at least I can fucking outwork them."
Guess what? You can't fucking outwork the other side. They have more money, they have more resources, they have more time. That's why this job is hard. You can't outwork them. So stop.
You know what you can do is you can firmly stand in your position on the side of the right. The defense will never fucking have that. You can firmly stand there and get the jury to recognize that that is the right side. Not by trying to persuade, not by trying to over-prepare, but really believing that that is true and that you do not need to be charismatic or great or persuasive or all the things.
All you simply need to do is get your case simplified, go in there and talk to these people on a level that makes them understand that you really want the right thing to happen in this case.
Listen, if preparation is what won cases, over-preparing won cases, why does Nick Rowley just swan in without any preparation in many cases and win these huge fucking verdicts? I know you guys are going to say, "Oh, it's because he's charismatic, it's because he's like his golden child." No. He's amazing, yeah. Why? Because he's amazing at being Nick. Just like Gerry Spence is amazing at being Gerry Spence. They come in and they connect with the jury right there. If you admire Nick Rowley, which many of you do, myself included, then that blows this theory out of the water, right, that preparation's what wins cases. It doesn't. He proves it by swanning in.
And why do you have him come in or other people come in and try your cases instead of you? Because you're so fucking swimming in your over-preparation, you don't have time to actually get as good as Nick.
Again, you are seriously hiding behind the over-preparation so that you don't have to be awesome like Nick, which every single one of you can be. And I'm not saying, I keep putting these caveats in there because I don't want Nick Rowley to think that I'm telling people not to have him come in, right. Nick's great and sometimes it makes total sense to bring in another attorney.
Most of you are doing that out of fucking fear and that is not the right reason to bring someone in to your case. Nick Rowley, I saw, just brought Rick Friedman into his case. That's awesome. It's great when you get to try cases together. But when you're like, "I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy, I need somebody better than me," that's the wrong fucking reason.
So if I haven't convinced you already that over-preparation is killing your cases, just please trust me on this one.
Prepare, yes, but really believe that what wins cases is you.
And when you marry those two things together and that you get to decide what it means to be ready, go in rested, well fed, connect with your jury and kick ass at trial. Talk next week.
If you liked this episode topic, check out these others:
- Episode #175 – If You’re Not Having Fun at Trial, You’re Doing it Wrong
- Episode #155 – A NEW Way to Look at Cases (With Guests Jody Moore & Dave Maxfield)
- Episode #153 – How to Manage Your Brain
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