Narrative is Everything at Sentencing!

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Lawyers are fundamentally problem solvers; and narrative is, as Dr. Randy Olson tells us, is “a series of events that occur in search of a solution to a problem.” So, if you want to persuade decision makers to reach the right result at sentencing, you must communicate in narrative.

Helping us get set for sentencing this week is communications expert, author, filmmaker, and teacher Dr. Randy Olson.

Dr. Olson has cracked the code of narrative structure.  He has taken the myriad complex and often inaccessible story models developed over centuries, and boiled them down to the elegantly simple, immediately actionable, format of  “AND, BUT, & THEREFORE”.  These three magic words embody the indispensible pillars of all great communication:  agreement, contradiction & consequence.

Randy has authored several books on narrative communication, including the legal edition of his “Narrative Gym” series, of which I am a co-author. This episode marks our first deep dive into the world of narrative, and I’m so excited to start this conversation with you!


  • Lawyers are problem solvers, narrative is problem solving;
  • Why we must embrace, not fear, the word “story” at sentencing;
  • How to craft a compelling narrative guaranteed to engage a listener and compel them to action;
  • Brain science behind narrative communication;
  • The difference between “story” & “narrative”;
  • The “rule of replacing” – a simple technique that can help transform boring and confusing written communication into something clear and persuasive;
  • The “Dobzhansky” template & the power of finding ONE narrative thread to tie your presentation together;
  • Dobzhansky at work in the OJ Simpson case;
  • The magic of “arouse and fulfill” in persuasive advocacy;
  • The need to heed “Shirley’s Law”, and take control over your sentencing story;
  • Analysis of MLK’s “I have a dream” speech as an example of a perfect “ABT” narrative construction.


The Narrative Gym For Law: Introducing the ABT Framework for Persuasive Advocacy (Amazon)


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