Advocacy skills

Advocacy skills

TrialNovember 2009 had a review by Russ Herman about a book, The Articulate Advocate written by Brian Johnson & Marsha Hunter. Russ has published on persuasion and, as nationally known trial lawyer, has lectured about argument, communication and persuasion. I have not read the book, but some of Russ’s comments about the book caught my eye. Here are some of the things
Russ reports that the book recommends and I thought important:

  • making panoramic eye contact with all the jurors before starting to talk. This is something taught by communications expert Josh Karton. The book suggests systematically looking at the jurors seated at the four corners of the jury perimeter
  • Russ quotes the book as saying "Pauses are good; silence is golden." The pauses give importance to what you are saying and the jurors time to think about what you are saying.
  • The book suggests that you should not panic when you are searching for your next idea or word. This is of particular importance because the pause actually makes what comes next of importance. Only nervous speakers feel they have to fill every silence with words
  • Russ says the book suggests control your pace by speaking in phrases and not whole sentences. It suggests you use the timing and rhythm of the Pledge of Allegiance. I don’t know about that, but I do know that the timing, pauses and pace of your talk is of the utmost importance in giving importance to what you are saying. No one does this better then Gerry Spence whose timing is impeccable
  • The book recommends breathing deeply because the power of your speech is proportional to your breath support. All actors are taught breathing. Josh Karton makes this a significant part of his teaching of communication

These are good recommendations. If the rest of the book is as good, it will be worth purchasing.

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