Your Story Matters

If you’re a lawyer, you should know something about persuasion. In fact, it’s essential to your job. You persuade judges. You persuade jurors. You persuade other lawyers. You persuade your clients. And you persuade potential clients to hire you. And one of the best ways to persuade is through story.

Storytelling has been around longer than writing. However, the web is making effective storytelling much more doable. Popular tools like YouTube, Instagram, Slideshare and even Vine, provide business owners new ways to tell their stories online. But using these tools for effective storytelling takes more than setting up a profile and posting your heart out.

You see, like everything else, storytelling is a skill. Some people are more innately adept at it. Others have to work at it. If you’re a trial lawyer, you’re probably already very familiar with some of the most basic components of effective storytelling.

But when it comes to effective online storytelling, it seems that most lawyers are missing the mark. Here are a couple quick things to think about when telling your story:

  • Authenticity – This seems to be one of the most difficult things for lawyers to wrap their heads around. I suppose it comes from the way they learned to advertise and market themselves (i.e. not very well). If you want your story to resonate, it has to be believable. You need to establish trust with your audience. Trust is built through transparency and authenticity. Let your audience in. Don’t hide behind “marketing-speak.”
  • Personality – Along the same lines, let your personality shape your story. Maybe you don’t think you have much of a personality. The truth is, you probably have more personality than you lead on. Legal subject matter can be very boring and dry. Sometimes boring and dry publishing is appropriate. But don’t rely on it to earn attention, especially online. If you want your story to engage your audience, you must make it interesting. Let your personality into your writing. Use imagery and video that help communicate your personality to your audience.
  • Structure – Good stories have structure. Typically, they start with the status quo and say something about how and why things change. They speak to conflict. They are organized from beginning to end. Which means that they usually require some planning in advance of telling.

I recently came across this brief introduction to using storytelling from Bianca Cawthorne:

While not everything in there is applicable to lawyers, I think there are some valuable takeaways.