Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Week 6: Just Say the Word, pp. 79-90

Is there something valuable here?


Luke Lawrence said...

As I read the assignment for this week, I was reminded of a lot of the coaching I received when I was in a speech and debate league in high school. I had coaches who would often tell us not to worry about making fools of ourselves – have “No Shame!!” as the author puts it. It is very important, when telling a convincing story, to have no shame – it makes your characters more convincing, the dialog more compelling, and your story have much more impact.

The author also made a great point about re-telling a story, as opposed to re-talking-about it. A news caster talks about a story. An orator tells a story. The emotive and persuasive impact of telling a story is so much greater than just talking about it.

This chapter seemed to be talking about the ethos and pathos. The section about getting in to your story, and telling it with feeling goes to the character of the speaker. It shows you care, and gives your audience a reason to believe you. Other suggestions, such as dialog, go to the emotional impact of the story. It was definitely interesting to see these ideas articulated in a more modern setting.

Jennifer Salim said...

This week’s reading reminded me of a very important concept: sometimes it takes telling a story from a different perspective to disarm your listener and give them fresh ears. I think perspective is everything to a listener. When we hear the same story multiple times, we develop a bias to it. We have our own moral reasoning for WHY the story is the way it is, and we don’t need the speaker to tell us. For example, it is easy to read the story of the prodigal son from the prodigal son’s point of view and rejoice in the forgiveness that is representative of God’s love. It is a whole other experience to imagine yourself as the loyal brother, receiving no greater reward than your “no good” brother.

The same is true of juries. If we present our case to them from a perspective they are expecting, we don’t just fight to convince them, we fight to speak over their internal pre-judgments. But when we offer a unique perspective, one they don’t see coming, we can invoke honest and “fresh” impressions, emotions, and judgments.

I also agree there is a big difference between memorizing a speech and internalizing a story. When we internalize something, it becomes about relaying a point and conveying a message, rather than focusing on exact semantics. Consequently, I think it becomes much more powerful.

Nick Chu said...

I think a great lesson to learn from this week’s reading is the section about “No Shame.” Not worrying about looking foolish can solve so many people that occur during public speaking. If you get up to speak without shame, then your confidence dramatically increases. As a confident speaker, your diction and delivery become more comfortable and natural, you are able to utilize rhetorical devices (like pregnant pauses), and you will sound more credible to the listener. I think speaking without shame can solve so much about a person’s public speaking.

That being said, speaking without shame has its limitations. If you are too confident then that can be a turn off to the listener. We see it in salesmen all the time. Too much confidence can make the speaker look too much of a fool, losing ethos with the audience.

Last week I watched a lot of shows on the history channel. There was one special that I really liked about Andrew Jackson. It was basically a biography about his life. What I liked about that special was that this two hour special kept me interested in what was happening for the whole two hours. It kept my attention. The reason that two hour special kept my attention is because it re-told Jackson’s story. The show’s premise was that Jackson was a complex man of early America. The show highlighted stories that show that premise and boiled complex stories into easily digestible narratives. Like this week’s reading suggests, in order to re-tell a good story, it does not have to use 100% of the original words used to tell the original story. Different narrative styles/points of view can be used to keep the story interesting. As long as the storyteller keeps in mind the cardinal rule (what is the point of this story) then re-telling of the story does not have to be a carbon copy of the original.

John Brennan said...

The interesting thing about the reading was the use of dialogue and how important that can be. I realized that some of the openings and closings that I remember the most are those that involved statements made by the defendant. I think the dialogue is really only helpful when it is something that is shocking or emotional. Ordinary dialogue won’t be nearly as memorable as when the attorney tells you what the victim said while dying or what the defendant said while pulling the trigger. The phrase that I remember the most is, “This is Park Row. We don’t fight, we shoot ****** ******s.” It set the stage perfectly to hear about Cedric grabbing an automatic from his fellow Crip and shooting four people in the back, killing one. Not only was the dialogue memorable for tying in the gang mentality, it also showed how one uneducated person with a bad background took the life of a minor league football player with a college education. The dialogue not only told the audience that there was violence, it hinted at the damage to lives that would result. It didn’t just show intent at that time, it illustrated that this was, to the Park Row Posse Crips, an accepted and expected part of life and that shootings weren’t something they felt remorse about.

Travis Phillips said...

This week’s reading reminded me, very strongly, of my second mini-trial in PC. The first portion of the exercise had gone very, very badly and I was essentially trying to tip-toe through the remainder, when the Professor had me stop, breath deeply, and scream at the top of my lungs—he felt the embarrassment was getting in the way and that I needed a practical lesson in the concept of “No Shame.”

I will say, on the basis of that practical application, that I think the key to giving a presentation that does not leave you shame-faced is not trying to set aside feelings of embarrassment, or being self-confident, but acting with sincerity—keeping foremost in mind that there is a purpose to your actions, however strangely they come off, and that such a purpose sincerely serves the needs of your presentation. As we have stated before, the audience picks up on that sincerity and thus is willing to go along with the story, however bemused.

The discussion of perspective reminded me of a class from college—Theory of the Novel. In the first week of class, the professor commented that unless narration occurs in the second person perspective, the audience or reader is inevitably going to be an outside observer looking into the story. The audience is almost always going to be outside of a written story, if for no other reason than because it appears to be very difficult and awkward to write in the second person perspective—such as the phrase “you are walking down the road.”

However, I do not believe that oral narration would necessarily suffer under this same restriction. In presenting a story in a trial setting, for example, I think it would be possible for one to speak in the present tense of “You doing an action,” to the jury. I think this could be highly effective if done well because if the jurors can be brought to identify with the protagonist or the protagonist’s actions, then they will be in the figurative shoes of the real-life protagonist—the client.

sameerk117 said...

The emphasis put on dialogue caught my attention. I was not familiar with any of the verses used as examples so I had a fresh perspective when reading. The use of dialogue made the text easier to read and pay attention to. Although the additions were minor, the difference in tone/perspective made a world of a difference.

I found myself questioning the applicability of some of the concepts in the leagl world. I understand why acting as Moses may add some perspective during a sermon, but I don't see how this effectively can be done as an advocate. We have discussed to some length the importance of creating a situation/telling a story in which the jury can relate and see themselves enduring. I am not questioning the effectiveness of this. However, I do wonder how it is possible to insert yourself into a fact pattern for a jury and it being effective. I believe there is a fine line between creating a sitaution in which our juries can relate to the facts and tryng to retroactively and blatantly place ourselves into the story as a character. I found myself wondering if this is done in the legal world, and if so, how? I am curious to see where lecture will lead to regarding this discussion. Up to this point, I have not had trouble seeing how the concepts discussed related to both an advocate and a preacher. However, at least with this discussion, I do find some disconnect. I am looking forward to lecture to have some light shed on the issue!

- Sameer Karim

PETE said...

No shame! I really like that. Don't be surprised to see me try that next week and humiliate myself.

I thought the chapter was a good read. It reminded me of a way that I've enjoyed learning about the gospel of Jesus Christ. One of my favorite gospel CD's is a collection of songs that describe the miracles of Jesus Christ from the people that received them. It's so much more powerful hearing it from their perspective. Now, when I read them in the New Testament or the Book of Mormon, they're not so one dimensional.

I think application of the suggestions in the reading will help open the imagination of the audience on that occassion and help them have an open mind in the future. I know that in my study of the scriptures, I spend time looking at the concepts from different perspectives. I try to see it from the character's point of view as well and those in the background. It's amazing that, no matter how many times I read the same chapters, I can still find something I didn't see earlier.

John said...

Much of the re-telling the story advice was a repeat of what we’d discussed last week. Take characters and put them in contemporary terms or take the story and put it in present tense. I was really interested in the suggestion to re-tell the story as one of the characters. I remember when I was younger I read the story of the three little pigs from the point of view of the wolf. The Diaries of Adam and Eve, a short story written by my favorite author, Mark Twain, tells the story of the fall of man from the perspectives of man’s first woman and first man. These stories grab my attention and by telling the story as I’ve never heard it before.

I used to think that video games could help make me smarter. Surely they were better than other forms of entertainment. Games have tasks and goals you are trying to accomplish. Then I read a study that said that after 10 minutes of playing video games brain activity drops off and becomes stagnant. Our brain stops being stimulated; we just let our muscle memory take charge, and go through the motions. This is what happens when I’ve heard a story I have heard before. The more times I’ve heard it, the faster I begin thinking about what I’m going to eat for lunch instead of listening to the story.

I wonder how many jurors do the same thing. Unless it is an incredibly unique case most jurors have heard about robbery or a car accident. We become desensitized to the story. By re-telling the story as Jacks suggest, our senses are awakened and we are able to give the story our full attention.
I was disappointed that Jacks said dressing up as your character is unnecessary. I was looking forward to y’alls outfits next week.

Drew Pate said...

I found this reading very helpful, but it also made me think about how delicate of a balance it must require to use dialogue and alternate perspectives when telling a story. I think it is difficult to find the balance between persuasive and disingenuous for an adult audience such as a jury. As the reading discusses, you do not want to come off as an entertainer and you do not want to shake people up too much. Because jurors enter a court with preconceived notions of what they are going to see, it could be easy to shake them up too much with a style or a method of storytelling that they are not prepared for.

I think the author did a good job of suggesting methods of handling this potential problem, but it is likely something that the speaker must simply discover about himself/herself. Personally, it might take me a while to figure out an effective way of introducing dialogue or telling a story from a unique perspective (such as a ram) without sounding strange or losing my own voice.

Vince Ortega said...

"No shame" a simple, and obvious concept to talk about, but not so easy to accomplish for some. Everyone knows how it looks when someone gets in front of a group and is totally self-conscious, it makes the audience uncomfortable. Conversely, when someone gets up with Too much confidence, it turns the audience off, leaving a bad taste in the audience's collective mouth.
Personally, I believe that striking the right balance between humility and confidence in non-verbal communication stems from solid preparation and a level of commitment to the topic.

If I have devoted so much time to my presentation that I feel totally comfortable and versed in the topic, I can almost assure you that I will not be overly self-conscious. And, hopefully, out of that preparation will rise a certain commitment and "emotional" tie to the topic so that my confidence in the topic comes across as sincerity and concern, and not as overly confident.

With that being said, should I happen to appear self-conscious, please don't assume that I haven't spent sufficient time on my presentation!

Kim Gee said...

I agree with my fellow classmates that the point of view from which a story is told can really make a difference to the audience. Especially in a courtroom setting where the jury expects plaintiff’s story to be told from the point of view of the plaintiff and the defendant’s story to be told from the point of view of the defendant, telling the story from a different point of view can really grab the jury’s attention. In practice court, one of my classmates was the plaintiff’s attorney in a mini-trial and he told his client’s story from the point of view of an agent of the defendant. It was creative, entertaining, and one of the best opening statement stories I’ve heard.

I think many of the author’s other suggestions can also be used in the courtroom. For instance, the use of dialogue or language that suggests dialogue can be used, especially in closing arguments. It would really make the story come to life and help the jury get a clearer picture of what happened. I also think his suggestion of telling the story in the present tense can be utilized. However, I think if attorneys were to tell the jury the “story” in the first person, I think the jury would find that strange and be less receptive to it. I think the only place first person monologues would be appropriate would be on witness examinations where you ask your witness to talk about the incident as they remember it.

Patrick Sheridan said...

After reading this week’s assignment, Jacks had convinced me that telling a story with dialogue was much more convincing and engaging than just a plain “he did x, she did y” account. But then I began to wonder when a lawyer would have the opportunity to tell the story of his client’s controversy with dialogue. The problem is that when a lawyer gives a long narrative, the contents of that narrative must be backed-up by the evidence in the case. A lawyer therefore cannot simply make up quotations because that would be making up evidence.

Where do the quotations come from? Well, they come from the evidence developed through documents and direct and cross examination testimony. Therefore a good lawyer must already have an idea of the closing that they want to give (one with a good dialogue) and establish that dialogue in the evidence well before the closing arguments over the course of the trial.

I can attest that the effect of using dialogue in a closing is huge. This past summer I was involved in a murder trial and the prosecutor brought out a statement made by the defendant to establish motive. This statement was gotten from a police interview and direct testimony from an eyewitness. The defendant walked in on his supposed girlfriend and another man having sex and the other man ended up dead. The testimony was that upon opening the door the defendant exclaimed, “Ah! Ya’ll b*****s be in here f***ing!” When said through the mouth of the prosecutor during closing, this statement had a visible effect on the jury. It painted the defendant in a very bad light and it put the jury right there in the scene. Especially in such a formal setting, the harsh words shocked the jury and made it very difficult for the defense attorney to establish sympathy with the jury. It was definitely the most effective part of the prosecution’s closing argument.

Ashley Yearick said...

If I hadn’t been told prior to doing the reading that the story of Abraham and Isaac would be told from the ram’s perspective, I have to admit that I wouldn’t have picked up on it! I thought it was wonderfully told and such a brilliant way to, as the author said, tell a very old story in a new way. As I was reading this particular chapter I was reminded of the adage “there are always two sides to the story”. After further reflection, I would probably argue that few stories only have two sides. When preparing a case, meeting with a client, engaging in discovery or talking to a jury it is absolutely critical to remember this. In order to provide the most complete picture of a case to an audience, you must consider that everyone involved had a unique perspective on the events that transpired. No one individual’s perspective will be identical to another. Furthermore, the best way to re-tell the story and bring it to life for your audience may not come from the perspective of the victim or the defendant or another main character. It may come from, as it did in this chapter, the “ram”.

Catherine Hoyer said...

I agree with what the author had to say this week. Growing up in Church, I always loved it when the Pastor was able to take a biblical story and put it into a modern situation. Jesus, when telling the parables, told them using situations from his time. Doing this drew the audience in and helped the audience to understand the concepts that Jesus was teaching. I am reminded of a monologue that my sister (the middle school drama teacher) often performs in church. She takes the Woman at the Well parable, found in John 4:1-42, and tells it as a young lady in a small country town who runs a corner store. She first came up with the monologue when we lived in a small country town. She incorporated places and events from that town into the “re-telling” of the Woman at the Well story. I have always loved that parable, but it has never made me cry. My sister’s monologue brings me to tears each time I hear it (which has been quite a few at this point). No longer is the story about some lady 2,000 years ago who was judged by people in her town. Instead, it became about a lady who I very easily could have known and could have judged as well.

Just like the scripture on the first page discusses, re-telling the stories of the Bible is important to the Christian faith. But I personally think it does need to be more than just simply re-stating the story. It needs to be about touching people’s hearts and teaching them the concepts from the stories. Bring the stories in a fresh way and in a way that people can relate to is an excellent way of doing this.

Phil Bean said...

The first thing that really caught my eye about this chapter was the running theme of "No Shame." I think that's an extremely important part of making an effective presentation. After going through PC, I've seen some good young advocates and some less-good ones. The best ones always were comfortable in themselves. They weren't worried about being embarrassed. They were confident because they knew the material, they knew what they wanted to say, and they knew that they had to get the jury to like them so they acted relaxed. The people that weren't as good seemed to always start out nervous. Nervousness of the speaker can immediately make the hearer uncomfortable, cringing like nails on a chalkboard. Perhaps the hearer will feel sorry for them or perhaps the hearer will be unimpressed - either way, it's not the impression you want to make to the hearers (the jury). So, you've got to have "no shame." Go out there and just do it. Do it like you've done it a thousand times. Because I've seen people with very good arguments lose because they were nervous, and it makes them seem unsure of their own argument.

A lot of this chapter, though, had to do with ways of converting scripture to a possibly more modern form of the story it seemed. It seemed kind of useless at first, because we're not going to be discussing scripture as lawyers. But the more I thought about it, I realized that making scripture more modern and understandable is the same thing as making a law or statute understandable. You have to be able to take all the lawyer-speak out of things so that a jury can understand, in their own words, what the law says.

Travis Bragg said...

The overriding theme of this week’s reading was personalizing the story, rather than simply telling the story from typical third person. In discussing this, one reoccurring thought was to not overdramatize the production of the story. This risks shaking, even shocking, the audience too much so that they cannot engross themselves in the story; thus defeating the entire purpose for personalization. Instead, the reading suggested to carefully choose the technique for personalizing the story so as to allow the audience to naturally become involved the character or point of view.

This is just as true in the well as in the pulpit. It’s unlikely a lawyer would ever come dressed as “Moses,” or the plaintiff, defendant, etc.; in fact it’s highly unlikely a lawyer would ever tell the story from first person like the first illustration in the book. But a lawyer can do several things to overdramatize the production of the story in opening statements or closing arguments. Many times the story calls for the lawyer to use a strong voice at a certain point to convey anger, frustration, or horror at the events of the story. But the lawyer must still control how loud or angry the voice gets; otherwise the jury could get turned off, even offended, at the volume or tone of the lawyer’s voice. In this same vein, a lawyer must be mindful of hand gestures made during the story. While carefully placed hand gestures can be effective, a poorly framed or poorly timed hand gesture can again cause the jury to tune out.

Michael Bernick said...

Jacks gives an interesting perspective on using a different perspective to tell a story. Telling the story of Abraham and Isaac through the eyes of a ram really freshened up the old Bible story for me. A form of this technique could be used in trial to tell a more compelling version of the events than just through the eyes of the injured victim. Maybe the vantage point of a close relative or spouse would have a more lasting effect on the jury. The jury expects drama out of the courtroom, but there must be a careful balance here, as the lawyer should not morph into the court jester. Keeping strictly to dialogue and not acting out specific events or using a different set of voices should be enough to keep a serious tone.

Taking a personal role makes a series of events become a story. The speaker’s feelings and descriptions become more vivid and convincing when they become live action and are not points on a timeline. As Chu mentioned, the History channel does an excellent job of making a person’s diary entries and events surrounding their life into an attention-grabbing tale of the human side of public figures. In trial, it is important to make the jury realize that the events that are being discussed actually happened to a person. Adding dialogue helps lift the story out to a personal level.

I think the “no shame” idea translates to not only the act of the telling the story but also to the content. The storyteller should not shy away from facts that would make the audience uncomfortable if they enhance the impact of the story.

Jonathan Silko said...

I have to admit that I struggle with the topic of this week’s reading. It is often hard for me to “personalize” stories. It’s not as much of a trouble when I tell stories that I have experienced. I think in these instances, intimate knowledge of the events, the sights, smells, locations, and characters assist my development of “story”. However, when I attempt to relate other people’s stories, I tend to lose my ability to relate the story effectively, often doubling back to pick up a forgotten detail or struggling through a deluge of he’s and she’s while trying to identify individual characters.
That said, I think that the suggestions Jacks offers can be of great assistance. I think relating a story from a unique perspective (i.e. the ram) can help to increase the flow because it allows for greater latitude and more “artistic license” to be taken without drifting too far from the basic story. One drawback to the “unique perspective” method however, is that it relies entirely on the audience’s understanding of the base story. Jacks’ use of the ram’s perspective would not have been effective at all if his audience was not familiar with Abraham and Isaac. Furthermore, I think that the “unique perspective” method can lose some of “moral of the story”. In the ram example, I was certainly caught up in the story. However, at the end, it did not draw my attention to the purpose of the underlying story (i.e. Abraham’s personal sacrifice, obedience, etc.). Again, I think that the act of storytelling has taken away from the story. I want to make this careful distinction, I really enjoyed the story, I was caught up in it, but in the end, it was just a cute story (that ends with the ram being slaughtered if he had continued for about two more lines). There is no ability to truly relate a deeper meaning unless your audience is already keenly award of that deeper meaning, which kind of defeats the purpose of telling the story in the first place.
I think that the use of dialogue can cure some of the “unique perspective” drawbacks. It is easier to explain the moral of the story when all you do is convert wordiness to dialogue. As a matter of fact, I think it can enhance your ability to relate the story because you can tell that moral through the dialogue of one or more of the characters.
Overall, I think that these suggestions can enhance storytelling. However, I think that you have to carefully determine your goal and the message you want to convey before you venture too far off the beaten path.

Blake Whitcomb said...

That wasn’t a bad little chapter. The theme of “no shame” is great (I thought of it as “sell out to your story”). Dropping your self-conscience attitude and throwing yourself out there isn’t something that comes easy for the average adult. It’s definitely something I could work on.

Generally, this chapter’s focus on biblical stories made it a little more difficult to consider the cross applications into law. In court lawyers are constantly telling a story. However, I had some trouble relating the different storytelling perspectives used in this chapter to courtroom performances. Generally, while creativity may be important in crafting a legal story, I have trouble imagining how creative use of perspective would translate to a legal setting (other than maybe closing arguments). Of course, this may simply be an indication of my inexperience.

William King said...

As some above have pointed out, there are a variety of differences between how a pastor gives a sermon and how an attorney gives an opening or closing. Obviously, there is overlap between the two, and Jacks outlines rhetorical tools that can improve the efficacy of communication in both scenarios. But what I’m curious about is how these tools take shape specifically in the courtroom. Sermons are generally geared towards sparking personal introspection and reflections on issues of faith. A courtroom argument, on the other hand, has a different purpose - one related to the guilt or liability of someone else.

Along those same lines, Jacks wrote this book with a sort of easy-breezy tone, which is just fine. But legal oratory, especially the kind that many of us will engage in, deals with very dark and messy affairs. And so now I wonder how the tools illustrated by Jacks take shape and form in that context.

The “no shame” pointer was a good reminder not to be self-conscious. That’s easier said than done, and I wish Jacks had elaborated on this point. “Entering” the character sounds a lot like some sort of method acting. So again, I wonder, how does one enter the “character” of a person involved in a crime or act of gross negligence? It’s one thing to tell a story from the point of view of a biblical ram, it’s another thing to enter the perspective of a living person sitting in the courtroom who has suffered from or is accused of malfeasance - and to do so convincingly.

April Holland said...

This week’s reading reminded me when I was a child asking my mom to tell me a story. My mom is great when it comes to telling Bible stories, and she loves what she calls “story time” in her kindergarten Sunday School class. I like how in the reading, the author emphasizes to give enough details so the audience can follow your story, but also let the audience exercise their own imaginations and fill in the gaps. I also like how the author takes a story and retells the story from a different vantage point. This technique not only keeps the story new and fresh, but it is also enlightening and easy to recall. By giving the characters life, the audience can immerse itself into what you are saying, and the audience is more likely to be captivated and impacted by your words. I can see how this technique could be effective when addressing a jury. You want the jury to tune in to what you’re saying and be able to take each individual to the place where the incident occurred and show that person what your client was thinking and how he or she felt. I also think the story technique would be useful in explaining foreign legal concepts to most laypeople such as burden of proof.

Hunter Lewis said...

My favorite passage out of this reading came towards the beginning of the chapter: "And since God gave us and them imaginations to use, he gets very happy when we use them in response to his word" (82). This reminded me of the fact that everything we do in story telling needs to be imaginative and creative, but also that there is no set way to do it. This subtle reminder keyed in on what I hit on last week in my comments. The author is merely providing examples of ways to attempt a story, but in no way is saying this is a set style that should be used. Often I have found that my stories, more commonly my opening or closing statements, tended to be more dramatic than most. This is because that style is what works for me. I really heed the advice of the author, though, in that he suggests that we have "no shame" in jumping in a really telling the story. However, with this mantra one must be careful not to lose his honesty or the person whom the story is about. Audiences really are more perceptive than one would think. Further, it is possible to be honest in playing a character in your story, just use perspective. As the author suggests, we can tell the story from one of the characters' perspectives as long as we clue the audience in to what we are doing. I think this is an important part of keeping the story honest, we must keep the audience engaged by fully detailing the story and introducing the characters. On the other hand, if you choose to keep the audience guessing because you want a surprise factor, don't try to trick the audience with your story. Lead them to the right conclusions.

Cheryl said...

I really enjoyed reading this week’s assignment but I am not exactly sure how it will translate in a courtroom. I think that making the jury use their imaginations is really powerful, but I’m not sure that using a monologue would be appropriate. In Products Liability, Professor Steakley gave us a few tips for openings and closings and one of them was the “Would you take this job” approach. Basically, the attorney would portray the injured plaintiff’s life as a job opening and ask the jury if they would like to live that life as well. I thought this approach would be very moving if I were on a jury because it makes you imagine a day in the plaintiff’s shoes (without using the golden rule argument). I think finding more creative ways to get your message across will set you apart from your opposing counsel and really get the jury to think, rather than just listen.

David Henry said...

I think the most helpful part for me is the idea that we need to internalize a story rather than merely memorizing it. I saw a lot of this in PC. You have so much going on and figuring out/memorizing the details of the story is just one extra thing you have to do on top of everything else. It was really hard for me to internalize a make-believe story about people that I knew weren't even real. Hopefully it will be a little easier to do when I actually know and have met the people I am talking about...

I also thought the part about telling to story from another perspective was interesting. It makes me think of jurors and how miserable they look during trials. I bet they are sitting there hopelessly waiting for something interesting to happen, yet, most of the time they leave disappointed. I think this is a good way to get them unconsciously involved in the story. I agree with Ashley that if I had not been told before I did the reading what it was, then I don't think I would have picked up on it either.

With regard to nervousness and shame, I agree with Phil Bean. The people who struggled the most during PC were the ones who let nervousness and embarrassment cripple them during their presentations.

Bryan Jiral said...

I agree with Jennifer Salim about the fact that when you tell a story from the same perspective, it loses something. When someone makes you feel like you are IN the story, it is so much more effective. I think this ties into the "No Shame" Section. In order to put someone into a story, you have to make them feel it and sometimes that means being over the top or being more vivid than you normally would. When you forget yourself and put the story first, you make your audience a part of the story as well.
I like how the author tied this into doing what Brennan said, putting some exact dialogue into the story but not memorizing the whole thing. Certain scenes need to be retold exactly, but when you commit it to memory, you lose the authenticity; which is pretty much the point of saying something exactly.

James Hatchitt said...

One of the first things I remember learning during story-telling exercises was to tell it in present tense. The purpose was to take people out of their seats and surround them with the scenery, the smells, and the sounds. Jacks mentions this is passing on page 87, but I remember it as one of the more insightful lessons I picked up here at Baylor.

Also, Jacks emphasized how the novelty of telling something from a different perspective can revive an old story. We have been taught to focus on the actions of parties for a specific purpose in story-telling. Telling the story of a man hit by a drunk driver from the victim's perspective may create a lot of sympathy, but it doesn't create the anger that you want juries to feel like telling the story from the perspective of the drunk and the choices he made throughout the night. Perspective can be used for more than adding spice to something rote and familiar.

James Reed said...

I found the “no shame” section particularly helpful because it is a concept that I have to consistently remind myself about. A lot of time I get so hung up on worrying about how I’m going to look when I have to speak publicly and trying my hardest not to look foolish that it actually distracts from the story. It is a waste of time and energy, and detracts from the effectiveness of your story. I am getting better about not worrying so much about how I look when I have to publicly speak, but still need to work on it. That being said I believe you should still strive to come off as confident and professional, but not be so consumed with that concept that it actually turns into a hindrance.

The discussion about telling the same story from differing perspectives I thought was interesting and useful. Many times in PC when we were the plaintiff the only perspective we told the events of the story through was that of the individual who had been injured. Many times we wouldn’t speak about the events through the perspective of the children or the spouse of the injured person. I think it was a mistake to not tell the story through their perspective because it would have been a powerful illustration of how many lives had been adversely effected as a result of the injury.

Kristin Postell said...

I think that when telling a story during a trial it is often effective to put yourself in the shoes of the client or the witnesses. It helps the jurors to understand what happened and the emotions involved. I don't think it would necessarily be a good idea to give an opening in the form of a monologue because to me that seems theatrical and out of place. However I do think it is a great idea to tell the story in the present tense and use dialogue as the author suggests. It is a great way to communicate the motivations of the people in the story without being argumentative and open to objection. You can't always tell the jury what a person should have done but you can make them feel as if they would have done it in the same situation. All jurors think of themselves as the reasonable person and as a plaintiff's lawyer you want to convince them that they would have been more prudent than the defendant and as a defense lawyer you want them to see your client as reasonable. I also think that in order to be the most effective advocate you have to have no shame when it comes to telling your client's story. Few people know this, but at my big trial opening I decided that the best way to convey the crudeness of the plaintiff's actions was to use the crude language he employed in my opening as dialogue. My willingness to take that kind of chance definitely brought the shock I was looking for even though it may have been perceived as too much. I may have been taking the "No Shame" a little too far, but I feel that it was very effective.

Brad Kinkeade said...

When I read the first story last night and then found out that the story was about the ram caught in the thicket I too was taken by surprise when I learned at the end of the story. I had heard that story a long time ago in Sunday and I have to agree I really enjoyed it told from the perspective of the ram. This story reminded me of two other similar stories. First, one of my favorite English assignments in school was Beowulf. In the margins of the my text book it said there was the same story told from the perspective of Grendel, the monster in the story. I went out and bought the book and loved to see the story from who was supposed to be regarded as the "bad guy" but who was actually forced to do all those bad things by his evil mother. Lastly, the story of the Ram reminded me of the ending of the Six Sense. Luckily, I saw it the first week it came out and no one ruined it for me. I am still impressed with M. Night Shyamalan ability to tell the entire story without revealing the ending. The author was right, he shouldn't have told the audience that the monologue was about the ram in the thicket. I love how in both stories I can look back and see all the clues they left but I missed about the end of the story. I wasn't able to see the clues because both story tellers fully engaged me with their story telling ability.

Jean L. Finch said...

I like the idea of teaching the literature from the middle-ages and giving it a current context so students aren’t bored by Chaucer. Nuns and priests could become city council members and the school board who all go out drinking. Sexual escapades could be told as making amateur porn instead of the wife of bath talking about sex with her 5 husbands.

But - There is a huge difference between retelling historical narratives to educate and engage students in a classroom and retelling narratives in sacred literature to instruct and teach as followers of Christ. I am a huge fan of modernizing the narratives in Scripture so that they are understandable and meaningful to listeners. However, the exegetical power of the text is lost when the re-teller fails to account for the historical context, find the character and nature of God as revealed in the text, and then translate the story into a modern context with accuracy. I understand the author’s well meaning intentions and applaud the heart behind trying to bring relevance to his sacred text. That being said, we’re not trying to get high schoolers to pay attention in history class by exchanging horses in a historical event for cars or speeches for youtube videos. Instead, the author’s (albeit unintentionally) is giving permission for teachers in the church to retell a story by focusing on what’s most entertaining. Good doctrine prohibits entertainment being the main concern. If entertaining is the main goal, details lose their importance, the story may even change how God is revealed through the text. And please don’t hear me saying texts have to be boring to be holy, but rather the author failed to educate and impress on readers the importance of remaining faithful to the text or explain the process of exegetical teaching. Although this method of modernization requires for work, it’s necessary to avoid a slippery slope that can easily lead to heresy.