In this episode I’m talking with Cliff Atkinson. I’ve read Cliff’s books, including the fourth edition of Cliff’s phenomenal book, Beyond Bullet Points because it has been such a wealth of knowledge and wisdom. I’m delighted to have Cliff with us here today to share his wisdom and knowledge with you. Cliff is a leading expert in visual storytelling in trial. When he started out, his first case was with Mark Lanier which became a humongous verdict and really was a game changer for a lot of lawyers around the country in how to approach opening statements and how to visually tell stories. And since working with Mark Lanier, Cliff has been working with hundreds of lawyers throughout the country. I hope you enjoy the podcast.
The future. Welcome to Trial Lawyer Talking. I’m so happy to be talking with Cliff Atkinson. I’ve had Cliff’s book and I should say books because I’m now on the fourth edition of Cliff’s phenomenal book, Beyond Bullet Points and it has been such a wealth of knowledge and wisdom that I’m super, super happy to have Cliff with us here today to share his wisdom and knowledge with you. Cliff is a leading expert in visual storytelling in trial. And he started out, his first case was with Mark Lanier that became a humongous verdict and really was a game changer for a lot of lawyers around the country in how to approach opening statements and how to visually tell stories. And since working with Mark Lanier, Cliff has been working with hundreds of lawyers throughout the country and really, Cliff, thanks so much for being with us.
Thank you Scott. Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be with you and to share with your audience some of our expiration of story and storytelling in trial.
Wonderful. Well, let’s get going. Tell us, what is the story
That is just a phenomenal question. I mean, so simple yet very profound at the same time. And I think I would probably start the conversation here. That story has become a big thing. And I think probably in our culture at large, we are just in a time of just such an expansion of knowledge and facts and information. And I think with all the proliferation of knowledge, we’re wanting some way to make sense of it. And that’s what I would say it’s a story. A story is a way to make sense out of information, often disconnected information, seeing patterns, seeing structures, seeing something that has some sort of underlying deeper meaning that can connect with.
And so there’s so much today in the business world about story, storytelling, how businesses tell story about brands, how brands tell story. And it’s so wonderful that as I’ve been working with attorneys in the last 16 years, that story has always been and continues to be a really central theme, a topic, a tool that people are wanting to learn and to learn more about because I think it’s just something that humanity is always used to communicate and make sense out of things. And I think that today more than ever, it’s really an important topic for us to explore.
Lawyers get a case and they’ve got a set of facts and thousands of documents often and witnesses that are saying different things. How do you approach developing a story out of all of the disjointed facts and the legal elements and all of the issues and information that we have floating around in the case?
Scott, there’s some really interesting lots of different angles on this. I think one of the most intriguing to me is, I don’t know if you remember back in the ’70s, there was this whole thing about when they first started doing brain research, there was a whole thing about left brain, right brain. Left brain was supposed to be analytical, right brain was supposed to be creative. And those became kind of inconstant popular culture in our understanding of the brain. But those were just the initial findings or understandings of what the brain has done in those hemispheres. We definitely have two hemispheres. And since then, the research has continued and the latest understanding we have about these hemispheres is that the right brain… I’m sorry, the left brain is about all the details. It’s about dissecting, about cutting things into pieces. And we could relate this to the evidence. I mean, it’s about the facts. It’s about these individual pieces and the detail.
And what we know about the right brain now is it’s actually more about this big picture rather than the detail. It’s about having this understanding of the whole thing and being able to connect all those dots. So there’s one angle where you could look at this where you could say that the field of the law is really about… It’s about the law, about the written law, about the concepts, about many abstractions and about these specific details and the pieces of evidence. And really when we start to talk about story and the transformation of that information into story, we’re really now moving into this hemisphere about finding that big picture, about being able to tell this in a captivating, engaging way and making an emotional connection.
So I think it’s really important because I think that obviously in law school, nobody is teaching any of these methods or techniques or skills of transforming the small pieces into a coherent whole, into telling a story. So I think that if we start to look at it that way, that this is actually helping to stretch our capacity of our brains and our communication to now take this core set of information and now make it more compelling and interesting and connecting those dots. It’s really almost a personal development exercise for us because we’re getting better at being able to connect the dots and see the big picture. So it’s a big question. How do you take all that detail and turn it into a story? And we’ll look at that. I think that’s going to be a core theme of what we talk about today, how you practically do that.
But I do have to say if there were a couple of basic criteria that that I work with my lawyer clients often, it’s about distilling. A big question I might ask when I’m working with a client in one of our full day sessions, yeah, I might start out looking for what are the three most important things you want the jurors to remember after they’ve heard your opening statement? So that single question, it’s like oh, wait, wait a minute. I’ve got 6 million documents. What do you mean three? That question in itself helps to know, shift and reshift and make you think about things in a different way. And that helps, what I would say is one of the central techniques or tools or ways to work with this. It’s about distillation.
It’s about taking the 6 million documents and now distilling it down to the three most important things you want somebody to remember. All this is critical thinking work and it’s the really hard work that we have to do up front because I think there’s that saying, I think it was at Mark Twain, who said, “I would’ve written you a shorter letter, but I didn’t have enough time.” The gist of it was something like that that it actually is super, super hard work to be able to make something distilled and boil it down to its essence. So that’s really always the upfront and hardest work. When I work with clients, it’s probably 60% of that day that we spent together is a critical thinking process of distilling something to its essence and then laying out the chronological framework for what happened in that story.
Okay. Well, let’s assume we’ve got the answers to the three most important things that we want the jurors to remember about our case. What’s the next step in the approach to develop a persuasive story?
Well, next it’s about finding the chronology, telling the story from beginning to middle and end/ and that then becomes the backbone for the information. Let’s say you’ve got 45 minutes for an opening statement. You’ve got a beginning, the very first few moments that in minutes to capture the jurors, your audience’s attention, to be able to frame what you’re going to talk about, to make them feel connected, to make it easy for them to understand. And then you’ve got the chronology of events. And so ideally as you are working and shaping your ideas and your evidence in this sort of structure from the beginning, middle and end, these classical elements of story need to be there. You’ve got to have a main character. So I most often work with plaintiff’s attorneys. So there’s got to be a bad guy and the bad guy is the defendant.
And so I as I work with clients to tell the story about the bad guy, then every statement that we write, everything that we write has got as the subject of that is the bad guy, the name of the defendant. And then the defendant is a big company that’s hungry for profit and it is under pressure to deliver. And so it cuts corners and then they hurt somebody. Something like that could be an essential structure for a story, but you’ve got to figure out and map your facts to some sort of sensible chronological structure laying out what happened from beginning to middle and end. Where was that point that they knew the rules and they decided to break them so that they could make more money. How did they hurt this person? What did they take from them?
So these are those crucial elements of having a plot, who the main character is, the bad guy in this case, what they did, what happened over the course of time, how they tried to cover up. You’re looking for telling this story in a chronological sequence. And that really is that imprint of the story structure. In order for people to understand and to connect with the story, it’s got to have this story structure. And it’s got to be recognizable and that’s a core thing that I’ve been realizing lately is that when you read a lot of these books about screenwriting in Hollywood, they talk about genre. And what they mean like that by genre is a type of stories. Is it a murder mystery? Is it a comedy? Is it a sci-fi? What’s the genre?
But part of the reason for having genres is that these are types of stories that people recognize and then either jurors or anybody you talk to needs to be able to recognize the type of story that you’re about to tell. So you’re not pulling all this stuff out of nowhere. How you craft and structure the story has to have a preexisting framework. It has to have some sort of familiar structure that the folks you’re talking to can actually understand and follow along with.
And in cases where lawyers are going up against large corporations that are greedy, for example, what genre would you describe that as?
Well? So I would always say… I would say that some of the interesting things about, especially like I mentioned, I normally work with plaintiffs attorneys, civil cases. So that torque type of story that you’re telling is actually technically a tragedy and a tragedy is about a character who might set out doing something with the best of intentions, but then at some critical point, they make a decision that’s actually a bad decision and then they end up hurting somebody. And so I would say that tragedy is the underlying story structure. And so with that, one of the interestings about that is this character went, they consciously knew the right things, they made this crucial decision to do the wrong thing. And now you and the jury, so this is the implicit context for this story that you’re actually the one that can do something about this. You can prevent them from continuing to harm people in a similar way. You can hold them accountable for what they did.
And so with a sort of tragedy structure, it’s so important. And this is the discernment, I think. With Hollywood movies, with fictional movies, the story is almost a complete package. It’s all like a… Some of them are maybe even a morality tale. You watch the story from beginning, middle and end and you see what happens. And at the end you clap or you don’t clap or you just… You’ve had some sort of emotional impact and then you move on with your life, but you don’t actually do anything at the end.
But one of the core distinctions with the story to a jury is that they actually… And one of the big opportunities is to make the jurors really feel the truth of the situation is that they are actually participants in the story. So with this a tragedy story structure, at the end of it, the jurors actually have through their completion and the creation of an ending to the story, they can bring this to justice. They could hold the bad guy accountable. And so this is so important that it is actually more interesting, I would say, than Hollywood movies because you do get to immerse them, have the opportunity to immerse them and let them feel that they are the main characters of the story. So although there’s the bad guy on a loose, they can be the good guys themselves and they can bring the situation to justice for their community.
So the jurors are actually the heroes as written about by my friend, Carl Bettinger?
That’s right. So the jurors, you want to make the jurors the heroes for sure. And that is so important because in… So you really have to make the jurors care about this. They have to be able to first of all… One of the hard things you have to do, especially in some of the most difficult cases or patent cases, but you’ve got to take that to the core facts of the information, the evidence and frame it in a way that’s relatable to the jurors. So in that patent example, maybe this is about stealing, taking something that doesn’t belong to you, but you’ve got to frame it in a way that makes it relatable that the jurors can actually see this happening in their everyday lives. They can understand it. And then they have the ability to be able to do something meaningful, right? So you’ve got to connect it emotionally with the folks you’re talking to. They’ve got to care.
And if they don’t care and if they don’t feel an emotion about this, then you’ve really lost them. So the opportunity is to frame the information and the story in a way that makes them care, makes them involved, makes them feel like they are, like you just said, the hero of the story. And when they’re the hero, then you can’t really get more involved and connected than that.
How do we do that? In other words, how do we get the jurors to care, to feel that they’re a participant in the story and to really want to be moved, to be connected and emotionally connected and to ultimately take action?
And without violating the golden rule, right? Without being explicit about the saying you and speaking directly to them. So I would say my story to share on that was actually this very first case I worked on. So a little bit of my back story. So my background is English journalism. I did work. I was in the military, did work that’s pretty similar to corporate communications. And then I figured out after PowerPoint came out that you could actually tell a story, get to the point and also make it visual at the same time. So I figured out PowerPoint and began writing these articles about how you can… You don’t have to put text on the screen. It could be visual. It could be like a film.
And then Microsoft invited me to write a book about it. And I wrote Beyond Bullet Points that it came out in 2005 and it was written for a business audience. And Mark Lanier was working on his first Vioxx case. He read my book and invited me to come out to help him with that case. And I said I’ve never worked with lawyers, I’ve never been in a courtroom, I don’t even know how to do this. And he said, no, in your book, I see what I would like to do in this case. I want to distill this, I want to make an impact on the jury, I want to make it visual. I want to use PowerPoint to do this. So I flew out, worked with him and then created this… To create this opening statement that he delivered. And I described that in chapter one of the Beyond Bullet Points book.
And in that, so the gist of his opening that he gave, so this is the very first Vioxx trial and it was Carol Ernst who was the plaintiff and she was suing a pharmaceutical company for prescribing Vioxx to her husband who then took it and it was a cause of his heart attack. So if you could picture this, on the big 10 foot screen behind him was just a picture of Bob and Carol out on a date. And then Mark just said, well, let me tell you the story about Bob and Carol. They were both single late in their lives. Hadn’t expected to meet anybody at this point, but Carol’s daughter introduced her to Bob on a blind date and they hit it off. And pretty soon, they fell in love and they got married and they were married together for 11 months. So then on the screen, there’s this picture of the two of them on a date and then suddenly the picture of Bob disappears.
And then there’s a chalk outline. And then Mark says, he clicks and then the next image is the CSI logo. And he says you get to be like CSI detectives. You get to follow the evidence and figure out what killed Bob Ernst. So with that very… There were just very, very simple images at the beginning, but the story is set up in a way. Actually, it sounds very simple, but rhetorically and strategically and tactically below the surface is a lot happening. And one thing is that it’s just introducing this story with just the backdrop of a big picture of this couple. Suddenly the background disappears and there’s a chalk outline, which is now rhetorically shifting the case from a product liability case to a different kind of case that has a chalk outline around a body.
And then now click going to the next slide with the CSI logo, now you get to be like CSI detectives. So this has reframed this case. Now it’s a more like a murder mystery, just like a CSI show, which is framing that the jurors already understand and get that. And now they get to be detectives. So that would be an example those. This was just the very first minute, two minutes of this opening, but already that’s one practical example of how it is that you can draw a jury, your audience into the story and make them feel really involved. So that particular theming, which by the way, came from jury questionnaires when we’d asked them, well, what’s one of your favorite TV shows? Well, a lot of people put CSI. So we were just taking from those questionnaires and from the jury themselves, a familiar framing. This is a framing that’s already in popular culture.
The genre of a murder mystery already in a crime scene investigation is already imprinted, already exists. So that’s, again, what I was referring to earlier, having some sort of framing and a genre that the audience already understands. And then now by connecting those two, now the jury gets to be involved. They get to feel like they get to be the detective. So the rest of the opening, the rest of the trial, then they are empowered to be able to go forward and look at all the evidence and hear both sides of the story. So that’s just a practical example, but other ways. So that was a very front loaded in terms of we made it more explicit, but that would be just one very practical way that you can do that.
Yeah. What a great, great example. Can you think of any other examples of ways that you’ve integrated story to make the jurors feel connected, involved, part of it?
Yeah. So I’d say another, recently on a trucking case. So the technique here was to have a picture. And this was working with photographs that had already been entered as evidence. So this was a photograph of a very busy road, like a highway that had big trucks going both ways. And so the beginning of the story was just this picture and the intent behind it as the lawyer is beginning to tell the story is to bring the jurors into being on the road and driving. And all of us have had these big 18 wheelers just passing by us at 70 miles an hour. There’s this feeling of stress and of danger of having these big trucks around. And so with this as the backdrop, it’s about saying it could be… There are many ways to verbally, to tell this story, but one might be the big picture, big trucks could be January 2013. Sue and Bob and their three kids were in their truck going to visit their grandmother for one of the kids’ birthdays.
They assume that everybody on the road was driving safely. We all count on the laws and for companies to be able to follow the rules and be safe for everybody on the road. In a split second, the 18 Wheeler you see on your left cross the median hit them head on and instantly kill the entire family. They never got to see the grandma. So with that, it’s just implicitly kind of painting a picture, having like… All of us have been on these roads and seen the big trucks coming in the other direction. The idea behind it is just to be able to bring in the audience, make them feel like this is something that they’ve experienced or that, that could happen at any point.
And so at the end of this story, to loop it back around, the company had cut a lot of corners and put unsafe drivers on the road. And by the end of it, to loop it all around, the jurors felt empowered that when they held this company accountable for what they did, the roads would then be safe for themselves, for others, for anybody else that’s driving. So the general gestalt of it is to tell a story, paint a picture that the jurors can relate to and then connecting all of those dots to the facts and the specifics of your case.
Let’s talk about visual storytelling. I know you are the expert in visual storytelling. First, can you share with us what that means?
Well, so let me put it this way. I would say that a story is a story. And as I mentioned with this day long consulting session I do, 60% is just on the structure of the story, just on the words. How are we going to… What’s the theme? How are we going to tell the story? What’s the chronology? What’s the evidence that’s going to back up what we’re saying before we get into the slides. So by the end of that half a day, 60% of the day, if the lawyer just stood up and told that story verbally without visuals, it would be a clear, concise, easy to understand, strong theme, big anchor points to grab onto with just words alone. So I would at a fundamental level, just say that a story’s got to stand on its own with just words.
And once you’ve got those words in place, you’ve got a solid theme, you’ve painted the word pictures, then when you add visuals to continue to magnify that story, you now take things into the next stratum, the next dimension because we live in such a visual culture today. There’s a reason why now all of us can pick up a phone and go through Instagram, look at pictures. Our eyesight is just such a predominant, such a huge way that we perceive information through visuals. So there’s so much research about how powerful visuals can be, but just looking at our phone, it’s just we’ve become such a visual culture at such an accelerated rate that once you’ve got the verbal structure in place, visuals are going to make it that much more powerful.
So in that Vioxx case that I mentioned, so Mark’s team interviewed the jurors six months later, they still remembered the opening statement. They still remembered visuals and themes from the opening statement. So visuals are going to help make things sticky. Visuals can help communicate information. They say picture is worth 1,000 words, meaning that it can communicate instantly what many words would take a lot longer to do. So we can accelerate communication. It can be used… Visuals can be used just an explicit way saying here’s a truck and then here’s a picture of the truck, but it could be used in a way where you just put up a picture of a truck that’s clearly barreling down recklessly at 90 miles an hour and that without even saying anything about the truck speeding, a picture can get across that this is a dangerous vehicle going down the road.
So it can not just communicate explicit information, but also can get across a lot more information than even what you might say verbally. So it’s going to accelerate communication, it’s going to make your ideas stickier. It’s going to communicate information in often a more efficient way than just words alone. But I would always say that there has got to be the verbal foundation and then the visuals are now going to take it to the next dimension.
I know you have a great section in your book about using storyboards to develop the story, but what would you say is the process from once you have your story to approaching and developing your visual story?
So if you’ve never well worked in PowerPoint, there’s a view in PowerPoint. At the ribbon at the top, it says View and then you pick slides sorter. And then from this perspective, usually you might, if you worked in PowerPoint, you might just work on a single slide. When you go to view slides sorter, you see all the slides together at once. So when you first open a brand new PowerPoint with nothing in it, you can take and ideally this would just be a slide with a white background. You just duplicate that 40 times and look at slides order and you just see what looks like just 40 blank index cards, 40 blank screens, 40 blank frames of a movie. And that is, I would say, the number one place to start. When you look at a blank, I call that a storyboard, but just 40 blank slides in a row, then you can look at the upper left corner and say what’s, if as I have my story in place, what’s the very first thing I’m going to show and say?
And then the lower right, you’re going to say what’s the very last thing I’m going to show and say. And then what are the three most important things I’m going to show and say in between? So that, by beginning to look at it from the big visual picture, then you can start planning out from the first thing you show to the last thing you show and everything in between in a visual way. And you can start to plan, is this going to document, a photograph? Is this going to be just a blank screen? There at that point as you’re looking at the big picture, you can start to plan out the visuals beginning, middle to end.
And how do you figure out what visuals to use?
Well, the bulk of the visuals you use are going to be the evidence to you’ve got. So this will be an email, then a zoom on a part of that email. This will be a still from a video deposition where somebody is speaking and then you do a pull quote over to the right. Yes, we knew the safety rules, but we did not follow them, as an example. So it’s going to be documents, it’s going to be videos, video clips, any illustrations, 3D animations that are showing a brain injury, for example, showing the impact, showing what happened to the brain, showing medical records, showing anything else. So family photos of before and after, what they looked like before, what they looked like after. So the bulk of the visuals that you have should be… Probably 70% would be the actual evidence and showing the documents, emails, video clips, illustrations as well.
In addition to that, if you do have some thematic elements, then you might use a very simple image to try to convey that. So for example it’s a big theme in many of these cases about money that a company was pursuing money. And so some ways to illustrate that money might be let’s say they’ve got an annual report and their revenues that year were $3.6 billion and so you do a zoom of the $3.6 billion. Could be that you just put the number $3.6 and then billion. Just that text right there could operate as a graphic. Or if you’re able to use it, it could be a big stack, big mound of $100 bills sitting on a slide. If you would be able to do that with the judge you’re working with and that jurisdiction. Some folks can do that, some folks cannot.
So with that, the bulk of your graphics and your visuals will be the evidence and zooming and putting that sort of information as visuals. And then it might be a combination of creating some custom animations or illustrations. It could be some stock, I would say, limited stock photography. Problem comes up with stock photos and that everybody’s using them or they become cheesy. So you’re just wanting something to be something the jurors find relevant and interesting. But other sources of visuals could be your own phone. If you were able to go to the crash side or if you could do go take a picture of a car or a truck or any damage that happened, you’re wanting to use as much from the actual case. That’s much photographs as much of the actual documents as you can because that’s going to be the core of your visual credibility.
So you’re wanting this to be the actual evidence and it’s important that that’s the bulk of it because there may be a tendency to just use clip art or just to do cute and funny things that I might have found this cute clip art from the internet. Having too much of that, then it diminishes that visual credibility. And there’s not really the concrete backup for that. So you want to as much visual evidence as you can to use. And I’m not saying that it has to be sitting on a PowerPoint slide. I do want to emphasize that if you’ve got a document, it may be that at some point in the presentation, then you switch your screen from your PowerPoint over to your Elmo or your IPEVO and you show the actual document that you have sitting on a table and you take out a highlighter or you underline it and then you switch back to your presentation.
So when we’re looking at visuals, it’s not just PowerPoint, but it might be showing on the screen your document projector. It could be using a physical prop. You could have a red flag sitting up. There are many, many different kinds of visuals to that you could use. And it’s not just limited to PowerPoint. There’s lots of opportunity to mix it up and it’s really important that you do do that. It’s important to mix up the media to really take a approach here you’re wanting to make this interesting and varied and to be switching from the PowerPoint to the IPEVO and back to a board, you’re wanting to connect the story with the visuals, but have a lot of visual variety in the way you present your ideas.
Let’s talk a little bit about the first three minutes of an opening statement because I know you do a lot of work in that area and that would help us also I think understand a lot of the larger issues that we’re talking about.
So I think a great way to explore this, I just got a subscription to the Courtroom View Network that does recordings of opening statements or trials. And that’s a great resource. If you don’t have a subscription there, I’m not selling it. I don’t have any stake in that, but I just think it’s great to be able to go in and watch people give opening statements and closings and watch what they do in between. And so I think that I actually is a really interesting thing to do just from my perspective. My interest is in just looking at the first three minutes of opening statements and just seeing what people are saying. And it’s so interesting because I think that we can generally agree with what psychologists and learning experts, people in film and television. Oh, there’s actually a great interview if you’ve got that Masterclass account. If you have heard of Masterclass, it’s a learning platform where different people, experts teach various topics.
And one of the classes is by Ken Burns, the guy who’s the big documentary maker and he has one of his classes about the very first things you say when you open up a story. And I think across all of those different types of learnings and understandings about the beginnings of stories, there’s a general agreement that at the very beginning, you’ve got to get a lot done. You’ve got to make an impact, most often by having a hook at the beginning, something that’s intriguing and interesting. Just think of the beginning of just about every television show where you start watching it and something interesting is happening. That’s you might not understand completely, everybody who’s there, what’s happening, but it’s something really interesting and intriguing that’s grabbing you in.
So there’s a general agreement I think, is that with an audience, especially on television where, streaming services, there’s so much opportunity to go do somewhere else to click somewhere else. So there’s got to be some… You’ve got to grab people’s attention and hook them and pull them in. So I think that that’s a general principle to have a hook, to draw them in. And that also, at this very beginning point. So it is so important in the first three minutes to be able to capture your audience’s attention, to hook them in and to draw their interest forward to help them feel an emotion about what you’re talking about, to lay out a framework where you’re going to take them, to make them feel relaxed, to make them feel engaged, to make them feel like they care about what’s happening.
It’s so important especially these days with so much media out there. People could quickly start watching something, they’re not interested and they move on to something else. So some underlying principles that folks who study this generally apply is that you’ve got to hook somebody, you’ve got to grab their attention and to make them care about what you’re talking about out, to relate it to something they’re interested in. So I think across many, many different professions, folks who study this, this would be educational psychologists, this would be people who study the psychology of persuasion and influence, that the general principles are about that. About the first thing you say is going to be super important. The primacy principle, what you say first is important. But also, especially these days, the need to be able to hook people into the content that you’re talking about to make them feel like they’re engaged, interested and to draw their attention and have them lean forward.
So doing that would be all these elements. You’ve got to frame what you’re talking about, to tell a story, make it interesting and that you really do have this narrow window of opportunity because people will zone out very quickly. So, so important. You could write it in entire book just about the first three minutes, but I would say that it’s just super important that the first things you say have the greatest impact. And it’s really important because I think that often especially in many of the openings I’ve watched or been a party to, is that very often the very first things could be full of fluff and something that’s not really important where the opportunity really is to do the hook to grab somebody’s attention.
And that’s why I would say, so we’ve talked about story a lot and that’s the theme of what we’re talking about and about your podcast, but that’s actually a wonderful way to begin an opening is actually just jump right into a story. You could do that by just saying August 15th, 2019, John was headed in his car to go see blah, blah, blah. So that with that painting of the story and just saying the date, somebody’s going somewhere, then boom, something happened. How did that happen? Well, let’s back up and we’ll tell the story. So that’s a concept or the idea of front loading that you very quickly get to the emotional heart of it. And this is the technique in television shows where you turn on the TV and something at the beginning of the episode, something is happening, something very dramatic. You don’t know who everybody is, but then the show is going to back up and unpack that for you and guide you through the process.
So what you say at the very beginning is the most crucial and important things that you’re going to say because that’s really working with this very small window of opportunity to grab the attention of your jurors, your audience and to make them care about this so they’re going to hang on with you through the rest of the story.
Wow. Well, cliff, this is amazing. Your insight is really fantastic. And I firmly believe that every trial lawyer should have your book, Beyond Bullet Points on their desk. In a way, PowerPoint is simply an outlining program and it’s sort of a blank slate on which a lot of lawyers, myself included, in the past, have just sort of used as a crutch to sort of make a list. And what I think is so powerful about your book is not only do you really have a step by step guide of how to approach story, develop story, tell story, show story. It’s really just a tremendous resource that trial lawyers should look at every case through. And I really appreciate you taking the time to chat with us today and I’m looking forward to learning from you more. And I hope one day you’ll come back and hopefully soon share with us some more of your insight.
Absolutely. Well, thank you so much for having me and yeah, I feel that we’re just opening the first chapter of a book about stories. So definitely I would love to come back and chat with you more about a lot of this stuff, but thank you so much for having me, Scott. I appreciate it.
Oh, thank you.