Winning with Stories

Using the Narrative to Persuade in Trials, Speeches and Lectures

Jim M. Perdue
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  • Table of Contents
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  • Praise for Winning with Stories

"Once upon a time ..."

So begins Winning with Stories: Using the Narrative to Persuade in Trials, Speeches and Lectures, an examination of the power of the story in the art of persuasion. In this eminently readable work of sound scholarship, author Jim M. Perdue proves that the story, as our primary vehicle for learning and teaching, is as valid today as it was to our ancient ancestors. "Stories reaffirm our belief that our institutions exist as solutions to problems," writes Perdue. "Stories deny the proposition that life can only admit to hopelessness and uncertainty. Since the beginning of time, narratives have carried the truths of hope and justice."

Beginning with an exploration of the story concept, Perdue analyzes narrative elements in detail, showing how to craft a story with a strong beginning, memorable scenes, believable characters, a logical plot, vivid action, and a moving conclusion. Going beyond these basics, Perdue demonstrates how to tell the story to maximum effect, with attention to concepts as broad as giving "soul" to the story and as specific as what the speaker should wear. Perdue covers mannerisms, physical movement, use of illustrative visuals, and other storytelling considerations in detail. The author gives generously of his more than forty years of courtroom experience to show novice and veteran lawyers alike how to tell a powerful story to motivate an audience.

Far more than a practical analysis of storytelling, Winning with Stories is also an invaluable anthology of stories that speakers can use to make and illustrate a point. Perdue includes abundant examples of useful labels, metaphors, similes, clichés, analogies, quotations, poetry, personal anecdotes, and humorous stories. He traces them to their roots in ancient and modern history, the Bible, children's tales, books, movies, plays, and folklore. Rounding out these invaluable resources are illustrative examples of actual opening statements and closing arguments the author has used to inspire juries to a just verdict.

Like Perdue's previous books, Winning with Stories will be an indispensable reference for the trial lawyer seeking more effective persuasion techniques and an invaluable tool for lecturers, ministers, and teachers—anyone who studies or practices the art of persuasion.

  1. Letter from the President of the State Bar of Texas
  2. Preface
  3. Acknowledgments
  4. Part 1: The Story Concept
  5. The Power of the Story
  6. Why a Story?
  7. Part 2: Crafting A Story
  8. The Strong Begining
  9. Setting the Scene
  10. Developing Strong Characters
  11. Presenting a Compelling Plot
  12. Let the Audience Live the Action
  13. Choosing a Cognitive Theme
  14. Negating the Negatives
  15. Complete the Circle with a Strong Ending
  16. Part 3: Telling The Story
  17. The Power of the Person
  18. The Power of the Telling
  19. The Power of the Sequence
  20. The Power of the Pictures
  21. The Power of the Story from Adverse Witnesses: Cross-Examination Storytelling
  22. Part 4: Our Values
  23. The Source of the Trial Lawyer’s Values and Beliefs
  24. Consider Your Audience
  25. Inspiring with Your Trial Story
  26. Part 5: Stories Within Stories
  27. Labels
  28. Metaphors
  29. Similes and Cliches
  30. Analogies
  31. Quotations
  32. Poetry
  33. Anecdotes and Humorous Stories
  34. Part 6: Courtroom Stories
  35. Illustrative Opening Statement: Truck-Auto Collision Kills Plaintiff’s Son
  36. Illustrative Opening Statement: Premises-Unsafe Ladder
  37. Illustrative Closing Summation: Baby Brain Damaged at Birth Due to Obstetrical Nursing Negligence
  38. Illustrative Closing Summation: Pathology Mistake Leaves Woman Disfigured
  39. Illustrative Closing Summation: Anesthesia Misadventure Kills husband
  40. Notes
  41. Bibliography
  42. Story Morals Index
  43. Name and Title Index
  44. Subject Index

Additional Information


Publisher State Bar of Texas
Hardcover 602 pages; 1st edition (2006); ISBN: 978-1892542229
  1. Jim M. Perdue has put on paper what makes him a courtroom legend. This is the best guide yet on how to persuade judges and juries. Read it, study it, follow its step-by-step approach, and you are guaranteed to become a better trial lawyer
    —Peter T. Hoffman, director of the Blakely Advocacy Institute, University of Houston Law Center

  2. It’s not just trial lawyers who need to read this book. Teachers and all public speakers who care about their audience and their topic should also read its simple yet profound message. You can persuade an audience far better and move your listeners more deeply with a story than with an argument.
    —Dennis Donnelly, past president of the Inner Circle of Advocates

  3. Perdue’s big-as-all-outdoors book doesn’t just give us formulas and checklists, it also mines deeply into literature and culture to show how the great stories of the last few thousand years have worked their persuasive magic. This is a book to read and savor, and refer to over and over
    —Patrick Malone, past president of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. and coauthor of Rules of the Road: A Plaintiff Lawyer’s Guide to Proving Liability

  4. This book is an amazingly useful tool for any communicator. Within the first two chapters, I found myself analyzing my next Sunday’s sermon, asking, ‘Have I stated my point in a vivid way, or an inert one? Will my congregation learn, remember, and be inspired?’
    —Jeff Berger, senior pastor of South Avenue Baptist Church, Pasadena, Texas

  5. A Bible of the art of trial, Winning with Stories cuts the learning curve for young lawyers by ten or fifteen years.
    —Jack Olender, Washington, D.C.

  6. A must-read for all litigators who want to win, and should be a required text for all who study or practice persuasion.
    —William B. English, director of speech communication, Baylor University

  7. The power of story is as old as humans and fire, and the fire of Jim Perdue comes through the pages of this book. It is an outstanding resource. Read it—and you will be a better lawyer.
    —Jim Fitzgerald, Cheyenne, Wyoming

  8. Atticus Finch surely spun some spellbinding tales for Scout and southern juries, but even he would be envious of Mr. Perdue’s talent for storytelling and his grasp of its tradition and power. This is a fascinating, informative book, and one that English teachers could use as effectively as attorneys.
    —Stephen Hancock, educator

  9. Every Jim Perdue book is on my shelf, but the new one on storytelling and analogies won’t ever have any dust settle on top… it’s Jim’s best work.
    —Don Keenan, past president of the Inner Circle of Advocates

  10. Jim Perdue’s collection of stories, anecdotes and quotations is a veritable treasure trove of source material for trial lawyers and public speakers. In Lincolnesque style, these stories and witticisms are not only entertaining, but are replete with jewels of wisdom and historical insights.
    —Wayne Fisher, Houston, Texas

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