An opening statement is like a keynote address.
You are sharing your themes with the jury, outlining the case and what you anticipate the evidence will prove, and closing with a strong message. You need to create a rapport with your jury and establish trust for them to believe your message and make an impact. If you can make an emotional connection, it’s much stronger.
Developing your themes essentially means branding your message through your presentation of evidence. A strong keynote has themes and builds with evidence. You tell a compelling story with an emotional trigger. You can’t oversell it or you’ll lose your credibility. Witnesses are like characters. You need to develop the characters and it’s better to show a character through their actions than it is to tell about the character. Let your audience close the gaps and draw the conclusions you are trying to make. Tee the conclusions up on the platter for the jury. Just like you want the solution to be someone else’s idea because they are more likely to buy into it. If you are going to create buy in to your message it needs to be the obvious answer.
Good stories have a villain. The villain can be a concept, a company or a person. Just like the opposing party in a lawsuit, the villain may not be the party but may be what the party represents, who they are, what the company does. Make sure you know your villain well. Paint the picture of the villain repeatedly, but again, don’t call them out as the villain. Let your audience or jury determine who the villain is. If your storytelling is descriptive enough and tied to the facts, they will know the villain.
Know your moral imperative. What is the justice that is at stake. Even when it’s a breach of contract, broken promises are something you learned in gradeschool. Don’t over think the moral imperative. Keep it simple. If your grandmother can’t understand it, it’s too complicated. It’s important to dumb it down.
Engage your jury in the solution. Request action. Let the audience be the hero. It’s the jury that delivers the verdict. Shine the light on their power and finish strong. Ask for what you want and be direct. Be compelling.
For more, my new book, Worth It, will launch on August 23, 2019 on Amazon and I’ll be presenting live at the BE WORTH IT leadership conference. For details and to register now before the tickets are sold out, go to www.beworthit.com.