Communication Techniques of Effective Advocates


effective advocacy

Advocacy is a pretty important subset of communication, and using proper techniques as an advocate can really help you deliver an effective and persuasive message.

What’s an Advocate, Anyway?

a person who puts a case on someone else’s behalf.

It’s an odd proposition, and one not very well suited to a lot of people.

After all – most of us like to have our own opinions, and therefore taking the position and arguing a case for another can be, frankly, a disturbing scenario.

But there are those to whom being an advocate is a fulfilling and wonderful experience – it is an opportunity to articulate, to express, to argue, to put forward the matters that will help our clients in some of the toughest times.

The Best Advocates have something to Say… But Not Everything

It’s a common theme in my communication techniques series that I hope you’ve noticed.  Too many words dilute your message.

The more practiced an advocate you become, the better you will be at saying much with little. The result is greater impact, greater force, and greater persuasion.

Advocates use a web of Communication Techniques

It would be easy for me to try and quarantine advocacy from the other forms of communication, but ultimately it is a combination.

Your writing can be for advocacy.

Your legal drafting can be for advocacy.

Your spoken presentations and Courtroom appearances can be for advocacy.

Each of the communication techniques I’ve written (and spoken) about in other forums can all be used here.

Advocates bring together a variety of communication techniques to create and effective and persuasive message.

Advocates Know their Stuff

A compelling message must be built on a strong foundation.

Whether you’re writing a persuasive letter or delivering a final submission, you have to be completely and totally across:

  1. What your point is
  2. The critical high points of your argument
  3. The law in support
  4. The law against
  5. The facts (inside out and back to front) – both yours and the other parties

Remember what an advocate is – you’re putting forward your client’s case within the confines of the law.

To do that, you cannot go in to the job half baked.

Good Advocacy Requires Effective Ordering

If you’re going to be an advocate for a client then you need to understand how things should fit together.

One of the most effective communication techniques involves an appreciation and understanding of what to say, and when to say it.

What should come first?

What should go last?

Are there weak points? Should you ignore them, or do you have to address them in a way that makes them seem meaningless and pitiful?

In general, primacy and recency are the psychological effects you need to know about. Primacy is about putting your strongest case first – getting started with a bang.  Recency is about leaving with a strong message, so that the last thing in someone’s mind is the point you want them to be dwelling on.

Both are powerful, and both have their place.

But you can’t just put all the information you know into a bag and then throw it on the page without any thought to what goes where.

Communication Techniques for Advocacy in a Nutshell

If you want to be a great advocate for your client, then whether you are speaking or writing try and focus on these things:

  1. If you had one point to make, what would it be? That point is what everything else you say needs to point towards.
  2. Start with the big picture, and then fill in the blanks.
  3. Begin with a strong opening, and finish with a stronger closing. If people only remember the start and the finish, they should still understand your point.
  4. Don’t ignore weaknesses, but don’t dwell on them – the bigger issue you make of them, the bigger people will think you’re worried about it.
  5. Use less words for greater effect.

Happy lawyering!