Anyone can tell a “good” story

I have written a number of times about the importance of good story telling in marketing legal services (see here and here).  The main concept is that telling a story is a much better way to communicate your expertise than documenting what you do. Not only will prospective clients and referral sources find your stories a lot more interesting than a dry recitation of your areas of legal expertise, but referral sources are MUCH more likely to understand what you do. More importantly clients and referral sources are much more likely to REMEMBER what you do when a referral opportunity comes along.

We all know some great story tellers (i.e. people that can keep our attention for hours). Most of us do not have that ability and never will. The good news, however, is that we don't need to be great story tellers in order to be successful; rather, we just need to be good at telling a quick anecdote that illustrates what we do and how we can be of help to an individual or business.

Telling a good story or anecdote that illustrates what you do requires preparation. In fact, even the greatest storytellers in the world do a lot of preparation; but they make it look so easy that you think they are doing it off the cuff. You would never go into a courtroom trying to wing it for an entire trial; so why do we feel we can wing it when it comes to telling stories that are intended to sell our services? Here are some other useful tips in drafting your own stories:

  • Know your audience. You will probably tell different stories to another lawyer than you would to a business person.
  • Keep it short. People have short attention spans.
  • Chose stories that illustrate what you want to be known for. If you achieved a great victory in a divorce case but you have zero interest in getting more divorce work, then don't use that anecdote to illustrate what you do.
  • Practice your stories out loud and use voice intonation to make the story more interesting (a dull monotone is sure to put your prospect to sleep.)
  • Try spending most of your time listening. Even if you have a few good anecdotes, it is much more important in selling to find out what concerns the other individual has. That is the only way to find out how you can be of help to them (either directly, or indirectly.)

Finally, do not feel like your stories have to demonstrate that you work on extremely fascinating and high powered cases or deals. The chances are, most of the people you talk to, will have no opportunity to refer that work to you. Instead, give them a good example of a situation they are likely to encounter. If you do, then you increase the likelihood that you will be the one to get the referral.

Tip courtesy of Stephen Seckler, president, Seckler Legal Consulting and Coaching.

Published January 31, 2013


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