(713) 306-8700 rick@rickmgoldberg.com


by | Jul 15, 2017 |

What is it about TED talks that make them so compelling? How is it that these presenters create jaw-dropping presentations on a TED talk stage? What keeps audiences spellbound and delivering standing ovations? Carmine Gallo, in his book, Talk Like TED, narrowed it down to 9 common elements… elements that sounded very familiar to the ones I use in private sessions and workshops with lawyers on how to deliver an electrifying voir dire and opening and closing arguments to members of the jury.

Is passion contagious? Can telling stories “sync” you emotionally with your jury? Why are these TED speakers so interesting? What’s the magic behind the 18-minute time cap? Gallo explains these in his book, which I found by chance in a local FedEx office store while I was waiting on some exhibit boards to be printed.

The similarities between delivering an award- winning TED talk and a convincing argument in court are striking. TED talk speakers are passionate. I teach many of my Lawyer clients to find their inner passion in order to turn their arguments from “Bla·sé” to “A” and motivate juries to take their client’s position.

As a trial psychologist, I assist attorneys with case strategy, witness preparation, jury research, jury selection and AP (attorney prep). Learning to tap into your inner fire will increase the likelihood of elevating your likeability and trustworthiness levels in the eyes of the jury. End result: more wins.

Applying the legal presentation techniques that I’ve developed and refined over the last 23 years as a board certified psychologist, I teach lawyers how to deliver more persuasive, natural, and fluid presentations. I teach them to speak more authentically and powerfully by making positive impressions on the jurors responsible for making decisions in their cases.

My team and I conduct either three-hour or one-day experiential workshops/training sessions to teach you what it takes to “talk TED.”

The workshop isn’t a magic-pill creating instant transformation. There’s no rigid set of rules to study and emulate. We are each unique. We teach each attorney to find their own voice and tap into their own passion using principles I’ve developed and that TED speakers have also discovered.


Passion is contagious. It inspires and persuades others. When you make an enthusiastic, passionate and meaningful connection to an issue or a piece of evidence you’re presenting, the jury feels it inside. Jurors will be persuaded to take your position when you inspire them. So be inspiring! Your focus is not primarily on the facts here (but facts, of course, are important). What you identify with should mesh with what your jurors’ identify with. Don’t ever go through the motions. Jurors will remember the one time you don’t and forget the nine times you do.


Personalized storytelling makes it easier for juries to engage and connect on a personal and emotional level. Narratives are how you get jurors to trust you. Stories break down barriers between you and jurors. Use stories, analogies, and metaphors jurors can relate to and what they experience or understand in their own lives.


Pretend you’re talking with friends, not jurors. It’s a sure way to build rapport – as long as what you say and how you look to come off naturally. Practice controlling how fast or slow you talk, how loud or soft your voice is, how high or low your inflections are, and when to inject pauses. Non-verbal communication is part of the package. Gesturing, body language, facial expressions, eye contact, must match your tone of voice and the content of what you’re saying. When you do this correctly, jurors will complete your sentences in their head. That’s when you know you got them aligned with you.


Make yourself interesting by teaching something new. Offer interesting ideas or a fresh way of looking at something. Make jurors curious or fascinated; Doing so forces their brains out of predictable perceptions, which can be enormously helpful to your case. Be creative in expressing the message you want jurors to take home. They’ll take notice and they’ll remember.


Create a Kodak moment when you want to make an important point. Shock them, surprise them, disgust them, fill them with wonder. Do something mind-blowing. Perform a stunt. Drop an object, pretend to expose jurors to a swarm of killer bees. Connect with your audience emotionally. Use it as you would a prop, video clip, or demonstration – which can also serve the purpose. Jurors will be more likely to remember what you said when they all experience it together.


Give jurors something to smile or laugh about: a humorous observation, anecdote, quote. Lighthearted analogies and metaphors work too. Lowering stress makes jurors more receptive to what you have to say. Jurors are encouraged to like you and side with your argument. Humor can also be an effective device to explain a complex concept. It can change the mood of a somber courtroom. Being humorous is a skill. Timing and being natural are essential to pulling it off. Practice. Be mindful of your subject matter, don’t be negative, and avoid put-downs.


Eighteen minutes is a TED talk speaking limit. I have a 20-minute rule for openings and 30- minutes for closings. Drone on and on and you’ll lose the jury’s attention. Too many attorneys overload jurors with too much information. They are smart and don’t need or want to hear you say the same thing over and over again. Keeping your presentation to 20 or fewer minutes is a “just right” zone, according to communication study research.


Deliver presentations that tap multiple senses. Incorporate more than one or two: sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell, if possible. I guarantee their brain won’t be bored. In fact, our brains crave all the multi-sensory experiences they can get; mental connections are stronger and recall is enhanced. Recent experiments by a professor of psychology found that students exposed to multi-sensory environments who lacked prior knowledge of the material had much more accurate recall of the information than students who only just heard or read the material. Jurors who must make decisions based on courtroom presentations makE excellent recipients of multi-sensory information.


Jurors and judges have sensitive radar for spotting phonies. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Be authentic. Don’t try and be someone you are not. I always had role models that I looked up to and emulated. When I released my need to be like them and became truly authentically me, my skill set took off. You’re not Tony Robbins, Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, or Johnnie Cochran. Speak from the heart and be YOU.