By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:
I fly United Airlines on average a couple times a week. On a recent return home, I witnessed something remarkable before takeoff. All around me, people were watching the safety video! Contrast that with what is more typically the case: all the business people and vacationers chatting, reading, or taking a late opportunity to update their social media status by phone as the boring set of safety instructions on seat belts, exits, life preservers, and air masks play in the background almost unnoticed. The extra attention this time was due to novelty. The United Airlines video being played in this case was their latest “Safety is Global” (version II) that is designed to combat the very human tendency to tune out. So to break through the boredom, the safety message offered a potpourri of unexpected details: a selfie-obsessed llama, a Chinese New Year dragon blowing smoke, a Scottish bagpiper with an infant strapped to the back, and a theater decked out with airplane style seating.
United Airlines isn’t the only one hopping on this trend of spicing up the safety video. Delta, for example, has one that offers up a number of sight-gags, like a squirrel storing nuts in the overhead compartment and a magician making smoke disappear. New Zealand Airlines might take the originality prize with their “Most Epic Safety Video,” a complete Middle Earth-themed message featuring Hobbit’ director Peter Jackson and actor Elijah Wood. But for likely effectiveness, I still like United’s the best because it doesn’t rely on humor as much as it simply employs the incongruous or the unexpected. I don’t know if it has been studied or not, but I think travelers are more likely to watch that one even after repeated viewings. As you might expect, there is a lesson in this for trial lawyers. Like the airlines, lawyers also need to convey information that is critical, but at the same time often dry and repetitive. Jurors, like passengers, are likely to tune out. Lawyers can’t use the same methods (as long as judges are unlikely to allow you to conduct examination wearing a Loch Ness monster suit), but can apply the same philosophy. In this post, I share seven realistic ways that attorneys can employ novelty in order to cut through the boredom during trial.