Lawyers tend to fancy themselves pretty smart folks. And they like to try to prove it to others.
They use big words. They use a lot of words. They use complexity, obfuscation and legalese.
And aside from wowing judges, jurors and opposing counsel, one of their favorite occasions for employing this wordsmithery, is when they are telling war stories or talking about what is that they do.
Now, we’re supposed to be awestruck by their masterful construction of language. But, more often than not, we’re left thinking:
- I have no idea what you’re talking about.
- I have no idea what is that you do.
- Please give me the last five minutes of my life back.
- What a pompous a**hole.
- I’m glad I’m not married to that jerk.
I’m a fan of Haiku, and have been doing an exercise based upon it for several years now at conferences and law firm retreats. Instead of the 5-7-5 syllable format, I ask my audiences to answer three questions, using just five words for the first question, seven for the second and five again for the third.
Though I’ll use different questions depending upon the event, I recently spoke to the New York City Bar about in-person networking and gave these three questions as a way to quickly develop an “elevator speech” that responds to the “What do you do?” question we get all the time.
The three questions, which must be answered with the specified number of words, are:
Who do I help? (Answer in Five Words)
What do I do for them? (Answer in Seven Words)
Why do they need me? (Answer in Five Words)
As you can see, the exercise forces word economy. But it also places the focus where it belongs, on your prospective clients.
Haiku-izing Your Website
Instead of writing long, meaningless bio pages about yourself, try applying the Haiku. Identify who your target audiences are. Describe what you do for them. Suggest why they need you.
Now I’m not suggesting that all your pages follow this exact format. The point here is to keep your Haiku in mind when you’re writing. It will help you better connect with your audience.
In addition to bio pages, the Haiku-style works well on practice area pages and might even be helpful in writing articles and blog posts. At least the Haiku principles might be helpful.
And might also make your writing more interesting to read. Which might mean that people actually want to read your blog, and even contact you.