What's true in life also applies in the conference room and courtroom. For nearly three decades, this is one of the many mindsets Eric Oliver has promoted for attorneys across the country. The innovator of brain-friendly legal communications – encompassing nonverbal, verbal and implicit communication skills – Oliver, an acclaimed trial consultant, presenter, published author and president and founder of Michigan-based MetaSystems, Ltd., has helped hone the art of persuasion, theme development and presentation before, during and after trial.
As any attorney knows, good preparation is key to a successful outcome, be it in mediation, negotiation or at trial. Even the best prepared cases fall flat when presented poorly. Over the last quarter-century, Eric’s attorney clients and trainees have confirmed the fact that persuasive presentation demands the same effort as good preparation – if not more, since it is usually ignored until the last minute or just taken for granted. Unfortunately, it’s something increasingly overlooked in legal training and practice.
Eric and the MetaSystems team offer a wide range of services to help trial attorneys prepare and present more brain-friendly case stories for decision makers before and during trial: in focus groups, negotiation, mediation, voir dire, opening statements, depositions, witness preparation and in motions practice.
Known for his practiced ability to see well beyond the surface in communication, Eric has helped lawyers produce "almost magical" results, such as influencing and then accurately predicting settlement amounts based on nonverbal clues alone, dismantling expert credibility on the stand by nonverbal means, and achieving record verdicts with and settlements with innovative forms of verbal, visual and nonverbal deliveries of the client's messages in mediation as well as trial.
Eric also devotes a great deal of time to helping his clients prepare and present a whole-brain-friendly case story using a balance of verbal and visual cues revealed in the personal experiences and stories of decision makers, often through the use of highly structured focus groups. Our clients have found the greatest value of working on persuasive presentations comes from starting and applying this technique long before a trial date – using focus groups to thoroughly explore the full range of perceptions prompted by the facts and law most likely to affect decision makers' views. He helps to uncover the strongest elements of the case story in the research and isolate the hot-button issues and strongest story package that can help the attorney manage those perceptions in presentation. It's all about addressing the (mostly unspoken) needs and expectations of the decision makers, be they jurors, judges, mediators, arbitrators or opposing counsel.
A sought-after lecturer and prominent author in the fields of nonverbal communication and trial consulting, Eric Oliver's latest book, Persuasive Communication: Twenty-five Years of Teaching Lawyers, a collection of essays focused on improving attorney persuasiveness, was released in 2009 and continues to receive great acclaim. His other titles include Facts Can't Speak for Themselves: Reveal the Stories that Give Facts Their Meaning (2005), Courtroom Power: Communication Strategies for Trial Lawyers (co-authored with Dr. Paul Lisnek) and The Human Factor at Work.