Earlier this week I had a chance to watch a portion of the jury selection for a two-week civil case. Normally, when I watch attorneys during jury selection, they tend to stay behind the lecterns. They keep their notes in front of them, and usually stay 10-12 feet away from the front row of the jury.
Not these trial lawyers, however.
Not only did they get away from the lectern, they were almost close enough to reach out and touch the jurors seated in the front row.
Done well, this can be very effective for reducing the barriers between you and your potential jurors. Done poorly, the jurors feel like you’re encroaching on their space and will actually scoot back in their seats, subconsciously trying to avoid you.
If you’re going to step out from the lectern and approach the jurors, make sure you have an approachable personality and pick up on the subtle clues the jurors will be sending you. If they start leaning away from you, you’ve gotten too close, and need to give them some more personal space.