Phillip MillerDan Ambrose
Phillip Miller · Dan Ambrose

Wordless Persuasion: The Neuroscience-Based Skills that Provide the Key to Connection with Jurors.

Gestures are "an elaborate and secret code that is written nowhere, known to none, and understood by all." - Edward Sapire.

For most lawyers the practice of law and litigation is all about the use of written and spoken words to persuade jurors and judges to deliberate and return a favorable verdict. Connecting with jurors requires more than words.

Just as word choice and delivery are important, people are also affected by gestures, physical position, eye contact and facial expressions. These forms of persuasion are generally an unplanned part of a trial presentation. A studied reflection on the literature and neuroscience suggests that the use of the techniques of gesture, eye contact, and facial expression should not be left to chance. “Wordless Persuasion” has been used by many attorneys successfully (often unconsciously) for decades. Until recently, no one could do more than speculate about the connections that we now know exist between gesture, speech, facial expression and its effect on jurors. As we will discuss, some of the accepted folklore about persuasion is wrong and counterproductive.

The skills and insights that allow some successful practitioners to consistently get large verdicts goes beyond their ability to talk, use exhibits or conduct jury research. “Wordless Persuasion” is what makes some “ordinary” lawyers extraordinarily effective. The “why and how” of creating connections with jurors is the subject of this study.

The classic quote from Houston Attorney Howard Nations “Who played me?” illustrates the important principle that connection with a jury is not measured in opposition focus groups or surveys and is consistently underestimated by opposing counsel and their corporate employers.

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