“Ummmmmm” Might Make You a Better Lawyer

Lawyers always try to speak clearly and concisely. We (should) think before we speak.

We want to look polished, especially in front of a jury. If we speak without stammering, without “uhs” and “ums” we will seem better, stronger, more knowledgeable, and more persuasive.

Right?

Probably not. There is a study linked in this interesting article in Slate that involved telephone survey interviewers. Interviewers who said “uh” and “um” more were more successful in getting people to agree to take a phone survey. The hypothesized reason was that people who didn’t have those verbal tics seemed more scripted – less authentic.

This really supports a point made by most people who discuss trial advocacy, from Gerry Spence all the way down to me. Juries love authenticity. Juries want to know that you are speaking with them, not at them. If you come off too polished, you can come across less believable.

(Howard Zimmerle is a trial lawyer in the Quad City area of Iowa and Illinois who specializes in personal injury cases. He can be reached at hzimmerle [at] mjwlaw.com or 309-794-1660). 

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1 Comment

Filed under Juries, Trial Practice

One response to ““Ummmmmm” Might Make You a Better Lawyer

  1. Interesting, and not at all a bad point. Those verbal tics make you human, and as a result they’re more likely to relate to you as a person. Probably less likely to take you as an authority, though.

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