Illustration of lawyer talking to jury


Illustration by Rick Stromoski

All of us would like others to appreciate our point of view. But this is often easier said than done. Some people, though, are quite adept at winning over others. Take trial lawyers, who are trained in the fine art of persuasion because it’s their job to sway skeptical members of a jury. J.C. Lore is a clinical professor in the School of Law–Camden and director of its trial advocacy program. For 10 years, he has also been a faculty member at the National Institute for Trial Advocacy. Lore reveals the finer points of convincing people to see things your way.

  • Put your strongest points at the beginning and end of what you have to say. That’s when people are most alert and most likely to remember.
  • Use powerful language and develop themes. They help create a more persuasive story.
  • Be fair, courteous, and honest. People are always evaluating you.
  • Demonstrate your confidence through demeanor, tone, and preparation. If it appears that you don’t believe in what you are saying, why should people listen to you? People are more likely to believe you if you are enthusiastic and self-assured.
  • Tell a story that is logical, believable, and simple. If you can’t be understood, you won’t be believed. Worse, you will be disregarded.
  • Be yourself. Don’t try to be someone you are not. People will see straight through it.  
  • Prepare, prepare, prepare. If you are prepared, you are more believable.
  • Repeat your important points. The more times your listeners hear something, the less likely they are to forget it.  
  • Make eye contact. People who make eye contact appear more sincere and believable.
  • Get close to somebody when trying to make a point, but don’t invade his or her personal space. 
  • Don’t rely on reason alone. Reach your listener’s heart. Appeal to a person’s sense of justice, fairness, and common sense.