The nominating speech by President Bill Clinton at the 2012 Democratic National Convention here in Charlotte went on for 49 minutes. That's longer -- much longer -- than most mediation presentations should ever last.
Still, even though this "lecture" from "Professor Clinton" was in front of 20,000 screaming Democrats with millions watching from home, there was a lot that litigants could consider when making an opening presentation in their next settlement conference. (Compare other comments and videos on openings for Plaintiffs and Defendants, in a previous MEDIATION MINUTE newsletter.)
Whether it's in a mediation or a trial, I've often found that
the most persuasive argument isn't really an argument, as
Bill Clinton offers a great
"mediation presentation" to the
DNC Convention in Charlotte.
much as it is education. It seemed to me that much of
Clinton's remarks sounded more like they were from a college proffessor than from a lawyer/politician. He explained facts. (Granted they were the facts that he felt bolstered his argument, but isn't that what good advocates do?) He didn't hide unfavorable facts, but brought them out and explored them. He kept the attention of his audience by previewing what was coming and summarizing what he said.
Maybe best of all, he peppered his remarks with punchy one-liners. ("Y'all pay attention to this. This is important.") The use of disarming humor is one of the best tools I've seen attorneys use in opening presentations at mediations. ("It takes some brass to attack someone for doing something that you did too!")
Just some election season observations that I thought I'd share in hopes that it might spark an idea or two for your next mediation...
If you ever want to "kick the tires" on any other ideas that you have on how to keep your opening presentations for mediation compelling and memorable, I'd be happy to hear from you. Feel free to email me, or just call 704-887-6776. (If you are in Charlotte, we can meet for some coffee...I'll even pour!)
Good negotiating to you, and best of luck at your next mediation.