Laurie Gilbertson on high stakes persuasion: a prosecutor’s perspective (#46)

We all need to persuade people in our life. A boss, a client, a colleague, our partner or our kids. Usually the stakes are not high. We may be trying to sell an idea or, if we’re honest, just trying to get our own way. 

Imagine if the stakes were higher. Imagine if you had to persuade a jury of your peers about the guilt or innocence of another person. Well, that’s what Laurie Gilbertson did for a decade in her role as a New York City prosecutor. When the stakes are that high you take it seriously. Whether examining witnesses or making arguments in front of judges and juries, prosecutors develop a wide range of communication skills that can be applied in many aspects of life.

In addition, Laurie worked as a television legal analyst, who provided input to local and national media outlets for a decade. Currently, she is the owner of Tribeca Blue Consulting, a company specialising in helping professionals with their public speaking, presentation skills, and media appearances. 

This episode with Laurie Gilbertson contains a wealth of insights that will improve our presentation skills and interpersonal communication skills. Some of these ideas might not be new to you, but seeing how effective they are in a high stakes setting like a courtroom really gives teeth to these ideas. 

We hope you enjoy this powerful conversation with Laurie Gilbertson.

You can listen to this episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher and Simplecast.

Show Notes

2:10 – Alexander Hamilton.
5:02 – what drew Laurie into criminal law?
10:26 – the most important lessons Laurie’s father taught her was about communication.
11:55 – importance of credibility when making your case.
14:18 – logic vs emotion in arguing a case.
17:32 – the importance of primacy: making the most of an opening statement.
23:53 – knowing your audience when the audience is very diverse.
27:37 – dealing with difficult people in the audience.
30:25 – we can easily misread our audience.
31:57 – the stories we tell ourselves can hinder communication.
33:16 – how to prepare for presentations.
38:16 – can you prepare too much?
43:23 – making a closing argument.
46:36 – communication lessons from interrogating witnesses.
48:58 – if you want honest feedback, ask kids.
52:01 – let your witness be the star of the show.
55:32 – arguing cases you don’t believe in.
1:02:27 – adapting your presentation style for television.
1:04:26 – biggest barrier to good presentations: being yourself.
1:06:24 – do people struggle more with content or delivery?
1:09:56 – be like a child when speaking on stage.
1:12:13 – connect with Laurie Gilbertson.

About the author

Divan and Mark are co-hosts of the Candour Communication Podcast where we discuss interpersonal communication and all the human stuff that gets in the way.