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When making a pitch, use ‘micro-scripts’

Whether pitching services to a potential client or trying to sway a jury, communication is essential for lawyers.

The best way to get a message across that will stick with listeners, according to Connecticut-based author and marketer Bill Schley, is by using a short, metaphorical phrase he calls a “micro-script.”

“If you tell someone six million wonderful facts and figures, they will forget 99 percent of it 10 minutes later. But if you tell them a story, 20 years later they will repeat it to you word for word,” said Schley, the author of “The Micro-Script Rules.”

The official definition of a micro-script is “a verbal instant message that people like to repeat to inform, influence or impress others,” he said. “It’s not what people hear; it’s what people repeat.”

Telling stories in short, simple, memorable packages can help lawyers market themselves or send a message to jurors, Schley said.

“It’s important to keep it short,” which makes it easier to recall, he added, given people’s increasingly brief attention spans in today’s world of text messages and Tweets.

A micro-script is different than a sound bite, Schley said, because a sound bite is a meaningless set of words, while a micro-script is a story bite: “It conjures an image of something tangible and specific and tells an entire story.”

For example, “a passion for excellence” is forgettable because it is meaningless, Schley said, while “you’re in good hands” evokes a feeling of safety and support from an insurance company.

Micro-scripts can be as short as two words and as long as a couple of sentences, but the best are between three and eight words, according to Schley.

For litigators, creating a micro-script for a case provides jurors with a phrase that can be repeated during deliberations to remind them of the story of your case.

Johnny Cochran had it with his infamous turn of phrase: “If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”

That eight-word phrase resonated with jurors because it told the defense’s story that O.J. Simpson had been framed by the police, Schley said.

For lawyers seeking a micro-script to market themselves, “it can’t just be empty words,” Schley emphasized. “First you have to decide what you stand for and what stands you apart.”

That “difference that makes a difference” is the basis for a micro-script, he said.

Timex, for example, decided it would be “the tough watch” company, leading to its famous tagline: “Takes a licking and keeps on ticking.”

“Consider what you stand for, one overriding value, and then come up with the micro-script,” Schley said. “Be sure to practice. You won’t always get it the first time. And you’ll know when you’ve got it when someone says it back to you.”

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