On July 1st I’ll be chatting on Spreecast with best selling author and VaynerMedia CEO, Gary Vaynerchuk. We’ll be talking about his new book entitled, “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook- How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy, Social World.” Click here to RSVP and join us and click here to share on Twitter right now!
This topic really excites me because while it’s easier than ever to share your message with the world, the fact of the matter is that all the major platforms are crowded and the sound level can be earsplitting. What I’ve noticed over the past 5 years or so is for this reason, good people with great messages are just not being noticed. Because of this, they become disappointed, discouraged and stop sharing their beautiful songs with the rest of us.
Hopefully, Gary’s new book will show all of us how, in the social media boxing ring, to change our stance, modify our style and sidestep the noise issue. I’m not exactly sure what Gary’s message is going to be during our Spreecast but, I think I have a good idea. Rather than spoil it here, stop by on July 1st and join us (it’s free) and also make sure to get his book when it comes out later this year.
Getting Past the Noise as a Trial Lawyer
As a trial lawyer, I know that when I’m trying to communicate an important message in a noisy world, there’s a right and wrong way to go about it. When I use the term “noisy”, I’m not necessarily referring to a big man with a loud jackhammer chipping away an old sidewalk outside the building. What I’m talking about is all the incoming data my jurors are exposed to and asked to digest not only during a long trial, but also well before they walk in to the courtroom.
Before many big cases start, there’s a ton of media coverage on television and over the Internet. Weeks and sometimes, even months before trial, prospective jurors are exposed to interviews of “legal experts” who don’t know a thing about the true facts of a legal matter and who give their opinion about who is innocent or guilty in a criminal case.
The “noise” that trial lawyers have to deal with is incredible. Getting the attention of our jurors is challenging. The barrier can be high and many lawyers fail at making their point and closing the deal. In the end, the client suffers.
As friend, Sally Hogshead, points out in her book, “Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation”, in today’s busy and hectic world, we only have 9 seconds (the attention span of a goldfish) to grab someone’s attention. If you want to be heard in today’s noisy world, you’ve got to fascinate others right away or people will move on.
Appreciating this fact, when I’m in trial, I always try to start right off the bat with something that grabs the attention of my jurors. In my opening statement, I never start my presentation introducing myself, my client, and then wasting time explaining what an opening statement is (this is how most lawyers begin their opening). Instead, I start the dialog off with a captivating oral heading and then tell my client’s story in about two minutes or less.
The wrong way to give an opening statement
For example, when the Judge ask counsel to give an opening statement at the beginning of a trial, most lawyers do something like the following:
The Court: “Counsel, would you like to give your opening statement?”
Attorney: He stands up and walks over to the lectern. He stops, puts his yellow pad or laptop down on the lectern and then starts reading…
“Thank you your honor. My name is Paul Lawyer and I represent Sally and Bob Smith. This is the time in a trial where the lawyers get to tell you what we feel the evidence will be. We are allowed to stand up, without arguing the facts, and explain to you in detail what evidence is going to be presented and which witnesses we will call during this week’s trial. Nothing we say is evidence. This is not our time to argue the case. An opening statement is like the top of a picture puzzle box. I’ll be presenting pieces of the puzzle as evidence to you during trial and at the end of the case, you can see if the assembled puzzle pieces look like the picture I described during this opening statement. Bla, bla, bla…” [this is from an actual transcript of opposing counsel’s opening statement and in all fairness, is the way most lawyers start their opening statement].
The problem with starting your relationship off this way with the jury is that with all the noise out there, they are not going to pay attention or be interested in what you’re saying. Despite your good intentions, the chances are high that you’re simply going to bore the jury to death.
A Better Way, in a Noisy World, to Give an Opening Statement
When asked by the judge to give your opening statement, you might start talking while standing up and walking over to the lectern. You’re already making eye contact with the jurors.
About half way there a picture of your client’s deceased son appears on the big screen behind you. Then, without any notes or papers to distract you, you stop and stand next to the lectern (not behind it) and continue as follows,
“We’re here today because the defendant has failed to accept responsibility for the harm he’s caused the Smith family. We’re here today because the defendant’s wrongful and careless conduct killed my clients’ son.
Take my hand and let’s go back in time to last year’s Fourth of July weekend.
If you were standing in my clients’ family room at their small vacation home in Lake Havasu, Arizona, you’d see everyone sitting around on a Friday night enjoying a movie. You smell fresh popcorn and hear laughter filling the room. The kids are all talking about how great it’s going to be jet skiing all weekend on the river.
The following morning Sally and Bob’s kids finish a big pancake breakfast. They walk outside, fire up their watercraft and head up the Colorado River to a reed lined channel they have visited on numerous occasions in the past. Sally and Bob’s middle son, 16 year old child, Larry, slows down and turns left into the narrow channel and is followed by his older brother and two cousins on their watercraft. They’re all traveling at about 8 mph.
All of a sudden and without any warning, another watercraft approaches from the opposite direction and at a high rate of speed. Witnesses will come into court this week and tell you they saw a 20’ high wall of water spraying up and over the other side of the tall reeds. They heard an engine being pushed at maximum RPMs. Then, almost instantly, the defendant shot out from around the blind corner coming from the opposite direction at a speed of 20-30 mph on his sit down watercraft. There wasn’t anything Larry could do. The defendant struck Larry, the handlebar of the defendant’s watercraft hitting Larry in the neck, killing him instantly.
Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Mitch Jackson and I have the privilege of representing Sally and Bob relative to the wrongful and tragic death of their 16 year old son Larry. Let’s talk a bit more about what the evidence will show during this week’s trial…”
See the difference?
Outside the Courtroom
The same kind of approach can be used while sharing your message online. You need to grab the attention of your audience with a captivating heading and you need to fascinate the reader from the very beginning. Offline, the same approach needs to be used.
You need to be real and genuine in your message and you need to be authentic and believe in what you are saying. In today’s noisy world, BS meters are high (as they should be) and people can quickly figure out if your passion is real and your intentions are genuine.
Be Different to Stand Out From the Noise
In his new book entitled, “Amazing Things Will Happen: A Real‑World Guide on Achieving Success and Happiness” (get and read this book), author CC Chapman explains, among other things, that risk can be scary and that we all need to be ducks. He explains that to get around all the noise and stand out, you’re going to have to take risks. Understanding this and then having the guts to follow through with those risks is exactly what is going to separate you from the rest of the noisy crowd (by the way, here’s a pic of CC and my daughter taken at a recent Linked OC event)
Now here’s the deal. Doing things a bit differently than everyone else to going to create a bit of controversy. By this I mean people either won’t get what you’re trying to do or their own insecurities will result in them criticizing what you are trying to do. And that’s OK. As CC points out, don’t be afraid to be a duck. Let the water roll off your back and enjoy paddling around your pond in the rain. It’s OK. In fact, it’s a good thing. [Update- CC is coming to Spreecast! Click here for details...]
The first time I made an effort to try a case completely different than most other lawyers, it not only raised the eyebrows of my trial judge, it also resulted in opposing counsel placing one objection after another. But you know what? When the trial was all said and done the new approached worked. Not only was I able to effectively present my facts in a noisy world, the approach also resulted in an unusually high amount of money damages. Even more important to me is the fact that by doing things my way, I enjoyed the process and was comfortable in my own skin. It felt real and natural. Trying the case was actually fun.
The point is that to stand out from the crown, whether your selling shoes, online courses, or trying cases, you need to do things differently if you want to experience long-term success. You need to slowly build relationships before ever asking for the sale.
During my Spreecast with Seth Godin, Seth explained to me that we all need to make a ruckus. We all need to look at things through our own unique lens and then tapping into the artist that lies inside each and every one of us, paint our own unique picture. Will we always succeed? The answer is no. But as Seth so eloquently explained, if you’re not failing, then you’re not trying. Want to be heard over the noise? Then don’t be afraid to make a ruckus, take risks, and be an artist in whatever you do.
It’s All About The Jab and How You Move Around the Ring…
In my trials, I usually don’t talk about money damages until I’ve clearly shown my jury all of the harm the defendant caused my clients. I don’t ask my jury to do anything for me until we’ve developed rapport with each other and I know they trust me and the message and need that I’m sharing.
I have a feeling that in Gary’s new book, the jab, jab, jab refers to taking your time to engage others and build relationships, rapport and trust. Only after doing should you step forward and throw the right hook to make your point and close the deal. Go about the jab, jab, jab the right way and your customers might even stand up and ask you to hit them on the chin! We’ll see if I’m right during the Spreecast.
Telling your story through well placed and well intentioned jabs will allow you to connect with others. During the process, developing rapport and earning the trust of others will help you get noticed and allow your message to be heard. It’s a 12 round boxing match that needs to be played like a game of chess. Looking at things a bit differently, it’s a bit like a dance.
Brian Solis, a well-known media strategist, keynote speaker, and bestselling author explains in his new book, “Whats The Future of Business”, that people and companies that learn how to “connect” with their customer and provide an outstanding “experience” will have a better chance of long-term success. In fact, I believe Brian argues doing so is essential to success.
Frankly, I’ve found this to be the case with my law firm and recommend that you focus on your customer or client experience to breakaway from all the noise on social media. FYI, I look forward to chatting more about this concept with Brian during our Spreecast on July 25th (click here to RSVP). Feel free to click here to share a tweet about my upcoming Spreecast with Brian!
Effective communicators know that in today’s noisy world, what differentiates them from everyone else doesn’t have anything to do how loud they are. Instead, they know it’s about using a gentle and well-orchestrated jab, over and over, to build connections, relationships and trust.
You see, when it’s all said and done, your voice can be heard. The right hook will be there. You just have to be patient, execute a good game plan and let it happen.