Crimson Tide is in the lead with time running out.

Bear Bryant tells his Quarterback to keep the ball on the ground, “run out the clock.”

Quarterback thinks, “everybody knows that is what I’m going to do”, so he throws a pass, thinking he’ll bust the game open instead.

Pass is intercepted by the fastest player on the field, who sprints for the end zone to upset Alabama.

The Quarterback, though, launches himself, making the game-saving tackle just before the goal line.

Baffled, the opposing coach asks Bryant, “How could a Quarterback catch my guy? My guy was the fastest guy out there!”

Bryant responds:  “Your boy was running for 6 points. My boy was running for his life.”


People don’t act in important ways until there is an urgency to do so. They don’t eat the moment they feel hunger. They don’t drink at the moment they notice thirst. They don’t fall asleep at the first hint of exhaustion. People typically wait until there is some urgency before they act.

The chart above demonstrates how the factors of importance AND urgency combine to create action.

  • Lots of jurors occupy the lower left quadrant during a trial. The trial has nothing to do with them. They are under no deadline to act. They will act when told to do so, but not until then. Your trial is busy-work to them.
  • Some jurors will occupy the lower right quadrant during a trial because the attorneys told them this is an important case or because they see some connection to their own lives [i.e., insurance companies should not be able to get away with this or our rates will go up if we award punitive damages].

But, which quadrant would you like your jury to live in during the trial? Which one will yield the greatest outcome?

  • The greatest outcome comes from jurors in the top right, the quadrant where our Crimson Tide Quarterback found himself during the game.
  • This is the zone from which jurors express their outrage at the other side in a decisive manner.

Attorneys are very good at teaching the importance of the case. The trick is to now add the urgency factor. How can you do this?

Urgency comes from teaching the reasons behind the facts. Urgency is the “why” behind the “what”. Facts and evidence are the “what” of a case. Jurors yearn for the “why”.


Let me tell you a quick story: 

My daughter teaches high school English. She loves that her curriculum requires the study of Shakespeare. She knows Shakespeare’s work is important for a host of reasons. She could just make students read a few plays, give a few tests, then move on to Steinbeck, the next English author alphabetically–98% of the kids aren’t interested anyway. But, what if she taught them “why” they should read Shakespeare BEFORE they do? Like, what if she taught them all the Shakespeare insults that appear throughout his work [“I thumb my nose at you, sir!”]? Or what if she taught them about sex in his plays [you’ll have to take her class for these]? If they know about insults and sexual references in advance, then when they happen upon one it is like finding a gold nugget. They are motivated to read on and find the next one. Last semester she heard something that no high school English teacher has ever heard before:  “Ms. Dugan, when do we get to read more Shakespeare?” She doesn’t dive right into the “what”, but she first teaches them why Shakespeare is fun to read. She creates an urgency to move on.

The steps to create urgency in your jurors are in the answers to these questions:

  1. What is my most important message?
  2. What is their resistance going to be to my message?
  3. What incentives do they have for acting on my message?
  4. What obstacles will they have to overcome to act on my message?
  5. What are the initial steps they will need to take to act on my message?
  6. The answers to these questions create the “why” that you can give to the jury in opening and in closing BEFORE YOU EVER GIVE THEM THE “WHAT”.
  7. Now the jurors know what to listen for and why it is important to do so. Now the jurors are ready to find those nuggets and act on them.


Time is running out. What are you going to do? Are you running for 6 points or are you running for your life?

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