Are you wasting precious time in closing trying to persuade the jury to be on your side, by spending hours reviewing evidence and statements and doing other boring shit?
If you want to communicate effectively with your jurors—and I know you do—you have to get out of your head and into theirs.
In today’s episode, I’m going to help you do just that.
Tune in to the podcast for a crash course in closing.
Learn what to stop doing AND what to start doing in closing if you want to win more cases. You’ve got this!
EPISODE 190 TRANSCRIPTION
Hello, everybody. Welcome, welcome. I'm so glad you're here. If I sound a little weird, it's because I have yet another cold. Oh my God, this is like two in the span of like two months, so I apologize for the sound of my nasally voice. Is that what it is, nasally voice? Anyways, Merry Christmas, if you celebrate. It's in two days. Scandinavian Christmas is actually in one day, meaning we celebrate on Christmas Eve, and that's when most Scandinavians get their tree is actually on Christmas Eve. We don't. We're the Americans that get it right after Thanksgiving. In fact, we now have a fake tree. I know. I hate to say it, but we love that fake tree. We spend a lot of money on it to make it look real, but yeah.
In Scandinavia, they do normally the day of Christmas Eve. That's why they can put candles, real candles on their tree because their tree is still damp, which I tried explaining to my mom several years ago when she was putting candles, real candles that she would light on her tree, oh my God, and decorate with wood and straw, which is what our tree looks like. In fact, if you saw my little love note yesterday, there's a video of us in front of our tree. Every year I put on the Finnish flags in a garland, which my husband hates because they get tangled. I always tell him, "Well, Santa won't come unless we put these Finnish flags on our tree." Us Finns are proud, man. We put flags on our tree. Santa actually visits on Christmas Eve. You see him. He doesn't come down any chimney. We open our presents that night. When I think of Christmas, I think of nighttime. That's what I think of, of darkness and lights, unlike Christmas morning in America. Again, Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate. It's going to be a fun weekend.
Well, as we are starting to close out the year, and next week I'm going to talk about the "Three Questions that I Ask Myself At the End of Every Year", I am wanting to do a podcast on closing.
Today we're talking about stop doing this, I'm going to share what "this" is in just a minute, in closing immediately.
H2H Fun-damentals, our brand-new masterclass came out this fall. It's 40 video lessons, four modules. The module one is all about how to learn and trust your jury. Module two is all on voir dire and that is new information. We've revamped the issue-oriented voir dire. We went into the funnel method, deep into the funnel method. Awesome, module two. Module three is all about opening.
But our brand-new module, module four is on closing 'cause y'all have been asking me for years to give you a template for closing. I have avoided that for years because I really believed that closing was something that you needed to create over trial as you watch things unfold. But then you guys wore me down and so you now have a closing template and I discuss it in depth in the H2H Fun-damentals course. In fact, one of our H2H Fun-damentals students said, "Oh, my God. Where were you 30 years ago? I totally needed this template."
Now, here at H2H, at least for now, we're focusing primarily on voir dire opening and closing because those are the three main times, that's what I'm looking for, where you speak directly to and with the jury. We are developing things around cross and direct and on witness prep and all the things. But because I started with being the expert on jury communication, that is why we focus on those three main areas. I recognize that I haven't talked a lot about closing and I don't know that I've ever even done a podcast on closing. I want to do that now, now that we have the brand-new template and videos out on that.
Here's what y'all are doing and that you need to stop immediately.
So many of you believe that closing is a time to really do two things that I want you to stop doing.
One, reviewing the evidence, and two, using that opportunity after you review the evidence to persuade your jury. Wrong-o. That is not what closing is for, at least not in the H2H method.
Let's take a look at where jurors are when we get to closing. Bored. They're bored as fuck, that's number one. When you go in and you review the evidence, you're just going to bore them even more, and you are wasting a very important opportunity to set them into the verdict room ready and prepared to do the job that they need to do, so they're bored, first of all because most trials are way too long. I love this whole idea of speed trials and getting things done much faster. I think it's a fantastic idea. Y'all know if you've been in the H2H Fun-damentals Masterclass that I suggest that you're opening be 30 minutes or less. Yep, 30 minutes or less.
But here's the second thing that jurors are at this point of trial and that is scared. Now, if you are familiar with H2H, and even if you're not, I'm going to go over it, you know that one of the reasons, or probably the main reason why we talk about jurors being hostages in my book Hostage to Hero is because of the SCARF model, which says that jurors brains, all of our brains are rewarded or attacked based on five factors.
Status. What is our status in the group?
Certainty. How much certainty do we have?
Autonomy. Can we move about and make decisions freely?
Relatedness. How well do we know people that we're doing the thing with?
Fairness. How fair are we feeling we're being treated?
Now, at the beginning of jury selection, we know that we ding jurors on these five factors. We tell them they're important, but their status is actually very low. Why? Because of the second one, which is certainty. They don't know anything and they don't have any information, which means just by the nature of things that their status is low. The people who know the least have the least amount of status. They don't have autonomy because they can't choose to not be there. They don't know each other, or you, or anyone else, and because of this, they think the whole process is unfair. Not to mention all the shit they're watching on TV and hearing in the news about trials, particularly plaintiff trials, and they think the whole process is unfair, so we know when we go into jury selection that a juror's brain is under attack, and so we've trained you now in our brand-new masterclass, but even the podcast and in the book.
By the way, the new voir dire is so much better than the one in the book, so you definitely want to get in on that, how to reverse that in voir dire. But I want to tell you that now that we're back here at the end of trial, right, we're bookending it, SCARF does a nice job bookending it, meaning before they were scared, and we did all this great work to reverse that.
But now, when we come into closing, they're scared all over again. Why? Well, now, status is at an all-time high. They literally are about to be the most important people in the room. That is scary. Why? Well, let's go to certainty. They don't know what they're supposed to do and how to do it, which are the two questions that we need to answer in our closing statement.
In terms of autonomy, they are now responsible, right? They can make any decision they want to make, but if they don't know how to make that decision, that creates a brain attack.
Now, they are knowing each other, if you've done a good job connecting them in voir dire in terms of relatedness, but now they're wondering, "Well, how does that work? What if we disagree? Who gets to talk? Do I have to talk?" All of that fear comes up for them. The fairness piece is actually their job. Their job is to decide what is fair and that is a huge responsibility.
Now, the reason why you tend to review the evidence or persuade in closing is because you don't trust. You don't trust them, you don't trust the work that you've done over trial, and that's why we spend so much time in module one of the H2H Fun-damentals course talking about how to trust and love your jury, yes, love and trust your jury because for anything in the H2H method to work for you, you absolutely have to love and trust your jury.
It's all based on love and trust of the jury. But somehow, when you get to the end of closing, your saboteur starts rearing its ugly head yet again and saying all of the crazy shit about, "Well, maybe we shouldn't listen to Sari. I don't know if I should trust them. I don't know if they got everything over to trial."
By the way, they did not get everything over to trial because trials are too fucking long and it's not possible for any human being to incorporate that much information into their brain, even if you've got eight weeks to do it, especially if you've got eight weeks to do, it's too fucking long, so you're not going to solve any problem by reviewing the evidence because you're not going to take eight weeks of information and be able to sum it up in an hour or two. Or some of your closings are too fucking long, too, like three hours. Oh, my God. Y'all don't understand anything about communication, especially verbal communication if you're doing statements, either opening or closing, that are that long. People do not have the attention span needed to listen to that. Okay, I'm on a rant, and I have another rant coming, so I really need to close off this rant.
Now, here's what I also want to say, let me go into rant number two, when you're trying to persuade and convince, what that actually ends up doing is the opposite of what you want it to do. It creates skepticism, right? The review is going to bore them. The persuasion is going to create skepticism. Why? I mean, think about this in your normal everyday lives. If you walk into your kids' bedroom and you're like, "Do you have homework tonight?" and they go, "Nope," you're like, "Okay, great. Dinner's in about 20 minutes," the end. But if you go into your kids' room and you say, "Do you have homework tonight?" and they go, "No. You can call my friend and ask them and they'll tell you that I'm right," you're like, "Wait a minute. What's going on there?"
Or if your spouse comes home late and you say, "Hey, what kept you late at work?" and he say, "Oh, I have this project that I was working on. Thank goodness we got it done. What's for dinner?" all is good, right? Versus, "Well, I was working on this project. You know how much I love you, right? I would never do anything that would destroy what we have together." You're like, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Wait a minute. What's going on?" Notice how the attempt to persuade and convince makes people skeptical?
If you've done your work, you're letting the jury solve your problems in voir dire, you're confirming their sanity in opening, your witnesses are aligned with the jury and the principles that they gave you over trial.
In closing, you do not need to persuade.
By the way, I don't think you ever need to persuade. Here comes the rant. I mean, I looked up the definition of persuade. A lot of people disagree with me, by the way. I hear it from a lot of you every time I talk about persuasion on the podcast and how you don't need it, people will email me like, "No, that's not true," so let me just tell you why you're wrong. You know I respect you. If you have a good sense of what you're talking about, great, we can disagree.
But here is what the definition is in terms of the dictionary: to cause someone to do something through reasoning and argument. Now, on its face, that is exactly what you're doing. But when we think about the word persuasion, what I think most of us think about, I think about is the tricks and gimmicks, I got to repeat the jury's words back to them. I'm going to go over here and I'm going to touch my client on the shoulder. Gross. I'm going to mirror their body language. You're spending all this time going to seminars on persuasion, reading books on persuasion that you're in your fucking head at trial and not with the jury. You know what persuades? Truth and passion. When you put those two things together, that's what persuades.
I mean, when I'm creating a podcast for y'all, I don't sit here beforehand and think, "How can I persuade them this week?" No, I'm just laying down the truth bombs, and then I get 100% behind it, and y'all eat it the fuck up. Why? Because one, it's true. That's what I hear from you all the time, "Sari, you get us." Yeah, I do, because we're a lot alike. Even though I'm not a lawyer, I know what I'm like, and I know that I probably could have been a lawyer in another life, but I also study y'all and I work with y'all and I know you, so when I'm talking about the truth, it resonates. Then when I get excited about the truth, you get excited about it, too.
But do you know your jurors? Are you confident in what motivates them, not persuades? Are you excited about what you're talking about? No, you're spending all your fucking time reading the books and going to the CLEs trying to be "persuasive" and doing all this, not scary-ass, creepy-ass shit when if you just believed in the truth and got excited about that shit, you wouldn't need to persuade, just like I don't need to persuade anyone in this podcast.
Now, you might be thinking, because I know how y'all think, "Yeah, Sari, but in your podcast, there's not much at stake." That's true. That's true. I have found my people not because I went and did all this research on who would like my message, but because I put out my message before I even knew if anyone was listening to my podcast and then y'all came and you are my people. Some people think I'm full of shit. I know, that's hard to believe, is it not? Just about a month ago, got an email from someone. We had sent an email and it said something like, "Why the hell haven't you ...?" Something, I don't remember. Because you know I love to swear. People are always telling me that I swear too much. She emailed back and she said, "This is highly offensive, deeply offensive," I think she might have even used the word hell. I didn't even drop an F-bomb there. Hell.
I wanted to write back, "This is deeply offensive? I mean, there is so much else to be deeply offended by in the world, right?" Donald Trump being one of it, all right? I swore to myself I wouldn't go political, but y'all probably know where I land on that. Right, so voir dire is your opportunity to find your people and once you find them now is the opportunity not to review, not to persuade, but to empower and inspire them to go do their job, the job that you cannot be a part of. It's like you're leaving them now. You've been leading them this whole time, but now you got to say goodbye and they got to go do it by themselves. Why are you wasting your time reviewing evidence and trying to persuade?
I mean, if we think about this in terms of a military operation, and granted, I know nothing about the military, so this analogy may be totally wrong, but it's like someone enlists. Enrolled? No, enlists in the army and they're in and they've signed the contract and you're still telling them why the army's so good to be a part of and why they should join. They're like, "Jesus, I've joined. Why do I need to hear about this?" Trial is a military operation. Voir dire is when you get the jurors enrolled, or enlisted, to use our military term. Trial opening and witnesses is when they're going through their training, learning all the terms, learning all the things, learning what all the pieces are of this mission, and then closing is where you are going to train them for battle, right? This is the battle prep. It's like okay, now we're at the point where y'all are going to go actually battle. 'Cause that's what they're doing, they're battling good against evil back in that room. That's what I believe.
When we put the closing template together, we really had three parts that we wanted to talk about to reverse, there's really four parts, but three I'm going to talk about right now, to reverse the SCARF model so that jurors can again get out of their fight-or-flight space and go do the job that you've been wanting them to do this whole time. The two questions we knew that jurors would have at this point in the process is, "What do I have to do and how do I do it?" We've added a third part, which is what happens if to show them the consequences of their choices.
Part one is all about the WHAT. What do I have to do? Here, if we go back to our military analogy, I want you to think about this is the mission. You are sharing with your jurors what the objective is and you're giving them the tools, their compass, their guns, their knives, right? You're giving them all the things they're going to need, like the verdict form, the jury instructions, and explaining how they all work. Here's what we're attempting to do and here are the tools you're going to use to do it.
When we go to part two, that's all the HOW. How are you going to do it? How are you going to work with each other? How does that work? What's the jury foreperson do? What does that mean? How are y'all going to talk back there? Here's how you fight back there. We're arming them with information back there about the actual things they heard over trial.
Part three is really your inspiring speech. That's, "Okay, here are the two outcomes that are possible. Now, let's project into the future and let me show you a jury that was successful in their mission and what that looks like and what the world looks like for our plaintiff and for the world at large should you be successful in your mission. But let me also show you, let's go into the future, a jury who was not successful in their mission and what the world may look like for the plaintiff and the world at large as we move forward there," so they have a really clear understanding of the impact of the choices they're going to make back there.
Now, the fourth part is where we transfer the power to the jury. Because again, you're not going to be back there. You need to say, "Okay, now it's on you. Go and do this. You can do it." This is the empowering part, and then this is the most important part, when you're done with closing, you need to fucking let go. I mean, mentally, emotionally, all of the thing, you're done. Let go and trust them to do their job. They can't do it if you're energetically sitting there, counter table, or at the restaurant, or at home, or wherever when you're waiting for the verdict, and you're just worrying the shit about it. They'll feel that, especially if you've made this great connection with them back in voir dire. Let it go. Trust.
See, we reverse the SCARF model when we share with them what it is they have to do. That reverses a certainty piece, right? They're like, "Oh, okay, that's what I have to do," so now we create a reward there instead of attack. When we show them how to do it and how they're going to work with each other, we deal with that related piece. When we show them what could happen if, right, both those future stories, we give them autonomy, right, Here's your two choices, and we show them what's fair, when we transfer that power to them, that's when we really elevate their status.
This closing template, this new one that we've got in the H2H Fun-damentals is all about reversing the SCARF model effects that happen again in closing, so stop reviewing the evidence and trying to persuade. You don't need to, not if you've done your work, not if you've done your work. We show you how to change your mind, how to get them to solve your problems in voir dire, how to confirm their sanity in opening and how to empower, encourage them in closing in the brand-new H2H Fun-damentals class.
Now, as of today through the 26th, we've got a special offer, $500 off. Go to www.sariswears.com/fun, sariswears, S-W-E-A-R-S, my name is S-A-R-I, sariswears, and you can get it for $500 off. Go do it. You're going to want to jump into that right when the holidays are done. Don't start during the holidays. My, God, don't do that. Wait, have fun, and then start. Okay? All right, I love you. I'll talk to you next week.
While you wait for next week's episode, how would you like instant access to exclusive trial skills training on my H2H funnel method for voir dire? Grab a pen and paper so you can jot down the website address for a 16-minute video that will help you win more cases. The free training is called Let the Jury Solve Your Problems in Three Easy Steps, and I'm even going to send you a workbook to go with it. Now, are you ready for the address? Visit sariswears.com/training. You'll see me there. Enjoy.
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