Addressing a jury in opening statement and closing argument are exercises in public speaking. Studies have shown that the number one thing people fear most is public speaking. The second on the list of things people is death. Jerry Seinfeld put it well when he said, “At a funeral more people would rather be in the coffin than delivering the eulogy
Comedian Bob Hope said, “If you’re not nervous before you perform, you’re probably dead.”
We can’t make nervousness go away, but we can convert it into good energy. What we think of as nervousness is trapped energy. We just need techniques for converting energy into good energy. Here are a couple techniques to accomplish that.
A significant cause of our nervousness is that we think the audience is evaluating us. The most important technique we can use is to focus on the truth—that is that the jurors really don’t care about you. It’s not about you. You aren’t important. What they are looking for is what you can give them—the content of your address.
When you think about yourself and how you are perceived by the audience, it interferes with your communication and delivery. You should be thinking not about yourself but about the jury. Concentrate on getting the content in your mind to the jurors’ minds. Period. You don’t count—the content of your address counts.
The second most important technique for alleviating nervousness is to prepare and practice. Prepare—prepare—prepare; have it down cold. Hope Solo, gold metal soccer goalkeeper, put it this way, “Every athlete acquires routines as a way to help control nerves.”