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Adapt Your Communication to Your Audience

Everyone utilizes all three styles of communication—visual, auditory and kinesthetic. Yet more often than not, one communication style is dominant. Repeated studies have found that the general US population is 70% visual, 20% auditory and 10% kinesthetic, whereas lawyers are 20% visual learners, 70% auditory and 10% kinesthetic.

Why is this important to us as lawyers? Take the example of a litigator presenting a case to a jury. Since the studies indicate that the general public is primarily visual (70%), then it follows that most jurors are mainly visual. Yet most lawyers are mainly auditory (70%), and the courtroom is dominated by oratory. Accordingly, the majority of the jury is going to be forced to listen to a non-visual attorney speaking to them in a style that they do not prefer. The way around this challenge is recognition of the problem and then a more balanced approach in your oral presentation that includes visual information (documents, presentations, blackboard) as well as adding kinesthetic evidence (scale models).

Likewise, the same approach applies to your interactions with your clients. Pay attention to how your clients respond to your phone calls, your emails, your in-person presentations and your other interactions. Through all methods of communication, you should be able to pick up on cues that indicate client preferences. You may need to speak more slowly than you are accustomed, or you may find value in emailing an outline of topics to discuss before phone calls. While these are small actions, they can make a big difference to a client.

We all want to be understood. Accordingly, we must adapt to our audience to reach that goal.

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