Dr. Frank Luntz is a nationally known communication expert and an adviser to the Republican Party. His book Words that Work was an encyclopedia of the importance oof framing and the words we used to present issues. His book Win: The Key Principles to Take Your Business From Ordinary to Extraordinary also has communication principles which are applicable to us in our trial work. Here are a few of them for your consideration:
- adversity: Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz has said “I don’t think God put us on this earth to be ordinary. Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond to life. Show me someone who has done something worthwhile and I’ll show you someone who has overcome adversity.” He says that it’s up to you and not someone else because “remember most people don’t care about your problems, and the rest are glad you have them.”
- First words impressions: The first words you speak are a large part of the first impression people have. However, you only have a few precious seconds to make that impression by the words you choose. For example, “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” and “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas.” These words are powerful, concise, and visual statements that grab your attention. In choosing the opening words, when we start with facts or figures everybody agrees upon they are attention getting. The words or phrases we choose breakthrough the distraction and grab the attention immediately. Second, make sure you a enumerate plainly. It’s important to enumerate your points as you make them. This accomplishes two objectives. First, it builds your credibility and second, it holds your audience’s attention as a way to hear your next point.
- Confidence Successful people demonstrate confidence in themselves and in the product they are selling. Their message is focused on results and solutions to problems that need solving. There is always a clear call to action at the end for what you want them to do.
- Enthusiasm Enthusiasm is important, but don’t mistake volume for enthusiasm. Shouting, out of control behavior and aggressive demeanor do not demonstrate passion or enthusiasm. Nobody wants to be yelled at, even when they agree with you. People are turned off by aggressive or dramatic behavior. The most passionate and persuasive people speak with softness when it matters the most. Remember passion and clarity must go hand-in-hand. Clear, concise communication will instill more passion than confusing technical terms.
- Listening Be a good listener. Don’t look away. Don’t fold your arms. Looking at your watch is rude. Maintain constant eye contact until the speaker has finished speaking. Be people centered: I’m listening; I hear you; I get it; I respect you; you are in control; you are the one who must decide.
- Yield control with a positive statement. Address people’s fears in a positive way with the phrase “No one knows better than you.” For example “No one knows how to spend your money better than you” or “No one knows what’s right for your family better than you” or “No one knows how you should live your life better than you.”
- Words of principles use language that demonstrates principles and values people agree about. These are powerful words of common value everyone agrees upon. Use them in support of your position:
- “strict standards”
- “moral compass”
- “social responsibility”
- “objective and unbiased”
- “uncompromising integrity”
- “the simple truth”
- “say what you mean and mean what you say”
When we realize the overwhelming importance of unconscious impression over rational and intellectual reasoning, these ideas are of particular significance. If we communicate from primarily an intellectual and logical standpoint we will too often wonder “what happened” when the verdict is returned. Focus on rational analysis and then communicate with the focus on the proven process of almost all decision making: the unconscious mind impressions.