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Getting the jury to like you: Optimizing your appearance in court

Before you go in front of a jury, it's important that you're prepared. The way you look and act can make as much of an impression as the testimonies of those who want to see you prosecuted. The way you are perceived can make you look more or less truthful than you are.

Your attorney should take time to make sure you're ready to present yourself in a way that makes you optimally persuasive and easy to like. No jury wants to convict someone it generally likes.

What should you do to prepare?

First, remember that eye contact is important. People who are lying do not make eye contact, and this is a subconscious movement that people may not realize they're seeing but still take into account. For example, if you don't look up when you tell a story, you're not engaging the audience. The person sees less of your reaction, and he or she may have a better reason to believe you're lying. There is a reason the saying goes, "Look me in the eyes and tell me the truth."

Another thing to do is to work on smiling more. It's easy to have a frown when you're simply listening or paying attention to what's going on around you, but it doesn't make you as likeable. Instead, try to remember to smile at all times. It makes you look more approachable and friendly.

Jurors want to believe that they know when someone is lying. Besides the evidence in the case, the way you act is factored into their decisions. Be sure you present yourself in the best light possible to try to win your case.

Source: At Counsel Table, "Five Psychological Principles of Jury Persuasion," Alex Craigie, accessed Aug. 16, 2017

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