A very well-known jurist once distilled how judges reached a decision into a single equation,
Argument + Facts = Decision.
In other words, how well a lawyer couches his argument substantiated with numerous facts, whether by quantity or quality (or both), he or she can persuade the audience – whether a judge or a jury – to rule in favor of that lawyer. Essentially a lawyer is attempting to influence the decision of the audience, no different than entrepreneur attempting to influence the decision of an investor into his or her company.
There are many similarities between the lawyer and the entrepreneur. Both have to pitch an idea, a product or a person. They have limited time in which to achieve their objectives. Both have to win, or lose face. And both know that time is money, and money is time.
Legal arguments have structure as well as what an entrepreneur delivers the essential 5T’s (in my earlier blogs.) Invariably I receive so called pitchdecks or business plans that dreadfully fail to carry a cohesive message. A known investor related to me that the most important thing a pitch should state is a persuasive story. Is the story well armed with the right facts? Does the story cover every point or remark made by the audience? (In other words, is the presenter well prepared?)
Let’s take actual examples. A few weeks ago, I received a 44 page business plan – somewhat lengthy and not the right format to present initially to potential investors. And this defect is just the beginning of other ones within the document. In one page, it states that its value is 7 times EBITDA, but it fails to show or prove to me how that value was calculated. Is that the industry average? And just like any legal argument, be prepared to show to the audience the source of that fact? During legal arguments, every lawyer should be prepared to demonstrate to the judge the source of his or her fact.
Now, on the other side of a coin, a potential investor pointed out to me how would I handle the data safe harbor rules for China for a healthcare network. Not only was I able to address the technical approach in handling this IoT issue, I also demonstrated that similar rules exist in Germany, Brazil and several other countries. That indicated to the audience that I foresaw the legal and technical issues and covered them professionally.
We can go on. However, that aforementioned algebraic elegant equation shows with utter simplicity on what one does to persuade an audience. Simple and direct. Pay attention to it.