Simple Jury Persuasion: KISS–Keeping it simple, simple…
More is not necessarily better. Although it’s tempting to believe that if you just provide all of the evidence—jurors will see the overwhelming support for your case. For some, it works. For others, they lose sight of the forest for the trees. Too much information is overwhelming and is simply tuned out. Instead of light bulbs going off in your jurors’ heads as they realize the truth of your perspective—the lights go out and nobody’s home. They are instead wondering about what to have for dinner and when you will stop that incessant prattle so they can go to the bathroom.
Even adding in more razzle-dazzle via technology may not increase your persuasiveness if you put in too much information or detail. What jurors want is a simple and understandable frame upon which they can hang the additional facts they find relevant to the case. Research shows that while volumes of information and a glamorous presentation may initially catch a student’s attention—actual learning and retention requires more than that. Further, computerized presentation is no better than paper [i.e., hard copy] presentation in terms of ensuring learning (Long, Holleran et al. 2001).
What matters is that you KISS: keep it simple, simple. Remember the campaign mantra from Bill Clinton’s campaign?
“It’s the economy, stupid.”
Or Ronald Reagan’s refrain in the Reagan v Dukakis debates?
“There you go again….”
Your message needs to be just as simple and just as memorable. [But more polite!]
A short but clarity-enhancing sound byte/mantra that captures your case themes/narrative for jurors in such a way that they are able to use that phrase to organize their thinking about the case and, more importantly, able to draw their conclusions accordingly.
Short and memorable is better than long and repetitive.
Long, J. F., T. A. Holleran, et al. (2001). “The effectiveness of persuasive messages: Comparing traditional and computerized texts.” Theory Into Practice 40(4): 265-269.