You can have the best questions in the world, but if you don’t sequence your funnels correctly, you run the risk of totally fucking yourself in voir dire.
That’s obviously NOT what we want, so I’m gonna help you out in today’s podcast.
You’ll want to grab a notepad and pen for this one because you’re about to discover my formula for sequencing your funnels and help the jury solve your problems.
Tune in to the episode, y’all!
Links from today’s episode:
Podcast Episode 189: May the Best Principle Win
EPISODE 205 TRANSCRIPTION
All right, welcome everybody to another episode of From Hostage to Hero, Sari de la Motte with you, the attorney whisperer, and today we're talking about Good Questions + Bad Sequencing = F**cked Voir Dire.
Yeah, we're going to talk about all three. What do I mean by good questions? What do I mean by bad sequencing? And we're going to start with what do I mean by fucked voir dire?
So a lot of things can go wrong in voir dire. Obviously, the jurors don't talk much. They talk, but we don't find out much. That has to do with good questions. We find out things, but we don't know what to do with it. That's facilitation skills. But we're really getting into fucked territory when the jurors are actively owning or backing defense points. That's where we've like crossed a line that we rarely can come back from, and I see that happen primarily when you sequence incorrectly.
Now, thankfully, it's very easy to know how to sequence, but before I give you my little formula, I'm going to talk about some things in terms of sequencing. So again, the likelihood of a fucked voir dire happening is reduced with a clear agenda, ie, the principle that we're looking for jurors to give us, and with good questions. I've got several podcasts on how to ask powerful questions and how to get the principle and so many things, but let me just go through that quickly here.
First one, principles. What do I mean by that? So principle again, is a fundamental truth. That's the definition. It's a fundamental truth, which means that 99.9% of people agree with that thing. Lying is wrong, betrayal is bad. If you go outside without a umbrella and it's raining, you'll get wet, right? They're just true. They're things that are true.
Now, how we tend to find principles in the H2H voir dire method is we go and we start with defense points, and then we think to ourselves, "Okay, what would a juror have to believe in order for that point to no longer be valid for us to no longer worry about it because we knew all of our jurors were believing this thing?" That's called creating the ideal juror profile. Once we have that, we can kind of look through there and many of the things on there are going to be principles. Now, I have a podcast several months ago on how to defense proof your principle. It's called War of the Principles. So you won't want to go look at that to make sure you've got the right principle, but that's what we're talking about when we mean you're less likely to have a fucked voir dire if you know what principles your case stands on, and those are forefront in your mind as you're going in to conduct your voir dire.
That second piece though is that you have to have good questions. So we're talking about questions and what makes something good, really, I'm going to call it a powerful question. So two... well, not really two things. One thing I want you to think about in terms of a powerful question, well, actually it's kind of two and then a thing to know how you've gotten there. So a powerful question will go down instead of up. Here's what I mean by that. When we are asking information gathering questions, we're taking people to their brain and they can often answer those questions very easily. What is your address? How old are you? Where were you born? What's your job? How long have you been there? Those kinds of things. That's our information gathering that we go to the brain for.
A powerful question goes down into the heart space. Instead of information gathering, it forces a person to ponder for a moment to think about it. They don't have the answer right off the tip of their tongue. And those questions are powerful because it gets to juror beliefs versus juror experiences. Remember, we are after what beliefs were formed by a juror's experience. It's very easy for a juror to tell us about their experience, but when we ask them, "What does that experience mean," or, "How did it create a belief," that's not the questions that we would ask, but that's where we're going. Then the jurors start to share a little bit more about who they are and how they form opinions, and that is very valuable. Not as valuable to learn about their experiences. So we want to go down into the heart space and we normally use powerful questions that start with how or what versus do or does, which y'all tend to use quite a bit of.
Now that you've had a powerful question or you've asked a powerful question when the person goes, "Hmm," or they make some kind of noise, they have to pause before they answer. Ding, ding, ding, we've got it. So if you have your principal ready to go, and if you know how to answer powerful questions, if you're a crew member and you're listening to this, we have a whole training that I did on how to create and ask powerful questions, go back in the portal and look for that. If you don't have it sequenced correctly, it can fuck you. Here's why. Jurors are desperate for information. They're going to weave a narrative because that's literally how our brains are wired from the bits and pieces of information they get from you in your questions. So they're going to start putting a narrative together from just the questions that you ask.
Meaning if you don't ask the questions in the right order, we now run the risk of creating the wrong narrative in their brain. You all know about primacy versus recency, right? So what they hear first and last is what they will remember. So what they hear first, ie, jury selection is going to color that narrative. Not to mention that if you read books like Cialdini's Influence and he's like the grandfather of persuasion and you know that I'm not big on persuasion, but I like reading that kind of stuff to know how the brain works. He says that if someone makes a commitment much less a public commitment, it's one of the seven steps of influencer, seven pieces of influence, they're going to stick to it because we want to feel like we honor our own word. So just think through this. If we have the sequence incorrect and they've been publicly talking about it in front of their peers, and then they later find out that that's actually not the case, it's much harder to get them to turn on that.
And we also know that once they create that narrative, by the end of opening for sure, if not the end of voir dire, they are now going to go through trial with that confirmation bias, which says they're not looking to challenge their own ideas with evidence that comes in. They're going to use the evidence, we all do it, to confirm their initial opinions and beliefs. So if I haven't already made it abundantly clear, the way you sequence your voir dire, voir dire being the first thing that happens in trial, I know it's not technically part of trial, but the first interaction that jurors have with the trial, you need to be really, really clear on how you are sequencing your voir dire. Now, if you are familiar with the H2H funnel method, and again, if you're not, you can go to sariswears.com/training and there's a 16-minute free video there for you to watch on the funnel method.
I'm not talking about how we sequence questions within the funnel. So what I mean by that is in the funnel we start with an experiential question. Who here has ever been in a hospital, driven a car, whatever it may be then we go to an expectations question. What were your expectations in terms of monitoring, what your expectations in terms of other drivers? And then we go to what can happen if question. Again, we don't need to use that verbiage necessarily, but that's the basic gist. We're going closer and closer so that we funnel it so that we get closer and closer to the principle. Now, we can also use some follow-up questions as we're in that funnel. It's not that we just used three questions to get us to the principal, oftentimes that gets us there, but the three follow-up questions that we often use are, "What was that like," or, "How important is..." or just merely, "Tell me more. Tell me about that."
So I'm not talking about the sequence of questions within a funnel in today's episode. What I am talking about is the sequence of funnels, meaning you are going to have several pieces or several funnels within a voir dire sequence, and that's what I want to be really careful that you are sequencing those correctly. So some things to think about before I give you this super easy way to think about this, one of the first things that you want to do is get everybody on the same page. So your first funnel needs to be very universal. So, "Who here has ever," and then whatever comes out of your mouth next should include absolutely everyone in the panel. So, "Who here has ever been hospitalized," seems pretty general, but not everybody may have been hospitalized. So you want to want to add in that case or known someone who has. You're pretty guaranteed to catch nearly everybody in that particular net.
Now, this is important because we want everyone at the very beginning to have a shared experience. Now, this is also why we don't want to go and drill down on the experiences. Why? Because the experiences are most likely going to be very varied, and the more that we hear about each person's experience, the more fractured the group becomes, right? And I want to talk a little bit more about that in a later podcast, but we want to have this shared experience, this kind of broad... one of my favorite things is for responsibility is, "Who here has parents," or has ever had parents. I mean, everybody is included in that particular question. So that's really important so that we get everybody on the same page, shared experience. Now, the second thing we want to make sure we do when we're sequencing is we want to front load danger.
We want to make sure we put that up front and center so that jurors understand the context which everything else is going to flow from. And we also do this in opening. One of our first things that we do is we front load the danger in the teaching section of our opening. So we're going to do it here in voir dire as well. Now, what you're going to want to avoid doing is avoid drilling down with individual jurors too early, again, because it's going to fracture the group, but also that is where you tend to have your voir dire go off the rails because now we have all these differing opinions. So you can think about this... The funnel is just so handy. I have to say how brilliant I am right now because it just works in so many different contexts. In our podcast where I talked about not talking so much, we talk more at the top of the funnel, we talk less at the bottom of the funnel.
In terms of getting the principle, we start with more broad questions. We get to more narrow questions. Here, I want you to think about at the beginning of your voir dire, it's much more group oriented. Toward the end of your voir dire, we're hearing a lot more from individual jurors. So it's a great way to think about that. You also want to think about at the beginning of your voir dire, it's much more conceptual. Toward the end of your voir dire, we're getting into more details. So again, bigger, larger, conceptual group is how you want to start your voir dire. As you get further and further into your voir dire, you want to go more toward individuals, details, those types of things. We always want to stay primarily in a group conversation, but meaning that we're going to hear a little bit more from the individual jurors later that we go down. Here's something you can ask yourself, "Where in my case, do things tend to go off the rails?"
You want to put that later. You want to start with things that you know are easy that get everybody agreeing at the beginning of your voir dire. Now, another thing before I share with you, the quick formula on how to sequence is I'm hearing a lot of you ask several questions in one. Now, I know that you've been trained to do this, so I know that. This is not going against your training to ask you do this one fact per question, but I hear you saying things, it's really not even so much in the questions. It's more in the context statement part where you'll say things like, "This case involves an injury that happened in an amusement park." So there's two things in there, injury and amusement park. What I'm going to ask you to do is to separate those two things out so that you can talk about amusement park in general.
That would be the larger, bigger conceptual thing where injury is more of a detailed thing. All right. Are you ready for the easy formula? Let's assume that you have three funnels. You most likely will have more. I'm just going to use this to show you kind of the flow that you want. Your first funnels should be danger focused. I'm going to share with you what I mean in a minute. Your second funnel should be how to avoid the danger. If we're not saying three funnels, let's say, beginning, middle, end, okay? And your ending or your last part of your voir dire is how to fix what happened because of course they did not avoid it. So for example, if we're talking about a trucking case, so you're going to want to start in that case with a funnel around the danger because again, we want to front load that danger.
So we're going to start by saying, "Who here has ever shared the road with a semi truck or if you're somewhere else in the country with an 18 wheeler," and you're going to raise your hand of course, and nearly everyone's going to raise their hands. So two things we've just knocked out. We've front loaded the danger and we've got everybody on the same page, which is really what we want to start out with. So now, unlike other places like for, "Who here has been hospitalized or knows someone who has," I do want to hear from individual jurors why, and here's your rule of thumb on, "Do I want to hear from individual jurors at the beginning or not?" Does everyone have a shared experience? You know off the bat with hospitalization they don't. But with something like this, you can rest assured that most everybody has the same experience, which is it's scary.
So I do want to hear from some individual jurors in this case because I want to get that danger in the air, so to speak. Now, once we've got that in the air, and maybe our principle is semi truck drivers can cause enormous damage or semi trucks can create enormous damage. Maybe that's your principle. Now we've got our danger in the air. The second one is, "Okay, well how would they avoid that?" Depends on your case, but let's assume it's about training. So you might ask some questions around training and what people's expectations are on training and why that's important and what could happen if, right? So we go into an individual funnel on training because that's how this particular case, if that is in fact the case could have been avoided. Eventually you're going to go to how to fix. So this almost always goes to who's responsible and what money can do, which is pretty much the same in every case.
Now, notice what happens when you get these three things out of order, the danger, how to avoid, how to fix. So some of you will go immediately how to fix. So this case is about a truck crash that happened and killed somebody. Now, notice how we have so many facts right there that we're already outside of what I've told you to do. Who do you think is responsible when there's a truck crash on the road? So many of you will start with responsibility and the jurors will be like, "Oh, I don't know. I'm going to need to know details. What happened," and you get yourself in trouble and we start going down the fucked voir dire path, right? Notice how if you started with training, right? So what would you expect in terms of training, in terms of truck drivers? Jurors are like, "I don't know," and they start getting all cognitive because you haven't front loaded the danger.
So it's really important that you follow this rule because if we start with the danger, then we go with what jurors expect should happen in terms of mitigating or avoiding that danger, and then we go to responsibility, it flows so nicely, it almost can't help but having the case just fall in your lap exactly how you want it done. I hope that helps so that even if you have kick ass questions, remember if you don't sequence them correctly, could easily fall into a defense point, which is what we want to avoid. So follow this quick rule. Again, it doesn't have to be three funnels, but just beginning, middle, end of danger, how to avoid, how to fix. Talk soon.
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.
If you liked this episode topic, check out these others:
- Episode #204 – How To Become A Badass
- Episode #203 – Why You Don’t Want Your Firm To Pay For Your Personal Development
- Episode #202 – How To Make Any Juror Answer Work In Your Favor
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