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January 05, 2009

What Jury Commissioners & Judges Could Learn by Taking a SouthWest Flight

By Li Evans

Jury-duty-box Yes, I know a rather bizarre blog post title, but bare with me and it will all make sense in just a short time.  This post, btw, is all owed to my ever creative buddy Donna Fontenot.  Always in the most bizarre situations Donna manages to challenge me to find a story out of my most bizarre situations.

So today, I had Jury Duty.

I was a grump, total absolute grump (ask my friend with the beautful hair).  I didn't sleep well, because I kept having dreams I missed Jury Duty and the Sheriffs were after me to come and serve.  So with lack of sleep, and a total lack of desire to do my civic duty, I headed down to the opposite end of my county.  I even managed to avoid some rather annoying traffic, so at least I didn't have road rage to add to my list.

After getting through security and checking my coat to some lady who was way to cheery for that early in the morning, I sat with about 50 other people in what I can only compare to a holding cell, with amenities and lots of "Don't Do This" signs.  We sat there for about 20 minutes till they "marshaled" us into the Jury Marshaling room.  There we got scanned in like produce, and told to go sit and wait some more.  Soon enough the Jury Comissioner came to the front of the room, gave a speech about this and that (very boring), showed us a video (very boring), then had a judge preach to us, finally wrapping up with more do's and don'ts.  It reminded me of the normal airline safety speech.

I've never heard the "speech" from the Jury Commissioner before.  I've never saw the video they showed before.  I never heard the speech from the judge that came to spoke to us before.  I'll never remember any of them either.  It all translated to me as "Blah Blah Blah".

After Donna challenged me, I got to thinking, wouldn't it be interesting to put the Judge and the Jury Comissioner on a Southwest flight and ask them to learn from it?  How can they get their potential jurors to not only really pay attention to the job at hand, but to CARE about what they are about to be entrusted to do?

How could they make the experience more beneficial not just for the jurors, but for all parties involved (I'm talking about lawyers, plaintiffs, defendants, etc.).  How can they make the experience seem like less of an inconvenience and a lot more tolerable?  Of course Government workers aren't marketers, and of course I know enough to be realistic that thinking like this from Government entities like this would not happen in my lifetime (but I could wish right? Obama did use Social Media, so there is SOME hope).

I also understand budgets are limited, and rules and regulations must be followed, but with what I expereinced this Jury Selection / Jury Duty process is more of a disservice to all parties involved and an actual civic duty. 

So I turn this around to marketing.  How do you get a totally disinterested audience, a grumpy audience, an annoyed audience to pay attention, listen, and most of all care?

Judge I wrote about Getting Your Audience to Listen  by relating my with my flight on SouthWest story to you all.  You start by doing the unordinary.  That gets their attention, and it gets them to listen.  So instead of the Judge droning on about this being a privelege so you can have your driver's license and so you can vote, perhaps he should have likened the situation we were presently in to Law & Order .... and then stopped and said "that's really not how it works".  It would have gotten a lot more people to relate and understand, rather than a judge preaching/droning on.

How do you get them to react?  On my Southwest flight people actually applauded the the man who gave the safety speech.  Talk about an unusual reaction.  So how do you get your uninvolved, grumpy, uninterested audience to react.  Again, it goes back to doing the unordinary and unexpected.  In this case, the judge could have been more interactive, we expected him to "speak AT us", not hold a conversation with us.  Had he held a coversation, it would have been totally unexpected and more engaging and not been interrepted as "Blah Blah Blah" by 75% of the audience.

In this case it all starts with the Judge and the Jury Comissioner.  If they have a passion for the judicial process, they should express that!  The judge, by all accounts has a passion for the law, he wouldn't have ran for Judge if he didn't love it.  Instead of preaching, he should be demonstrating his passion.  Instead of thinking he has to be locked into this stoic and reserved personna, wouldn't it be of more value to say "this is why I love the law, this is why each and every day I'm amazed by what you as jurors can do to help ensure our judicial process keeps in check"?

If you love what you do, don't be afraid to share it, express it and turn that mundane "civic duty" your audience is being tortured with, into something extraordinary.

Think about it, are you expressing the passion for what you love to do (your business), with your audience?  Maybe that's why they aren't listening!


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