Remove All Barriers

Posted: January 20, 2010 in Lessons

So I did my first Opening Statement in Trial Practice tonight, and it was fun. “Public speaking” is at least familiar to me, and in law school I find pleasure in just about anything that even seems faintly familiar.

Our textbook for the class was co-written by three Pepperdine professors (Perrin, Caldwell, and Chase), and I’ve greatly enjoyed its helpful, practical advice. Since preaching was my life for a decade before law school, I can’t help but think of the advice as it applies to preaching. When I was a preacher, some of the things people commented on favorably were that I didn’t use notes, I didn’t stand in one spot, and I didn’t hide behind a podium. Imagine my pleasure to see those very things highlighted as “to do’s” when delivering the critical opening statement.

The text in this particular section opens by saying, “Effective communication requires the removal of any barriers between the speaker and the audience.” Growing up in church, I am very familiar with the traditional picture of the preacher: behind an elevated pulpit delivering a message down to a passive congregation. In fact, we always called preacher “pulpit ministers.” I was never taught to change this picture, but for some reason — and I think that reason was a desire to “connect” with an audience — I just never liked a pulpit, never liked to use notes, and never felt I should be frozen in one particular place.

I have no point. Except that I’m glad that at least one natural tendency of mine might lend itself to something positive in law school. And that others out there who have a desire to speak to and connect with a group of people might find the advice interesting.

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