Learning how to moot from a book seems akin to reading yourself better at sport. You may learn the rules, but it is difficult to envisage actually improving your skill level. This is particularly true in respect of those who have never mooted before. Until you have identified your starting ability it is doubtful that any advice will enable you to make lasting changes which benefit your advocacy. Even those well versed in mooting will struggle to find the advantage in reading a book that tells them to slow their speech, speak clearly and take pauses. This is because most students in this scenario already know what they should do.
What is of interest, however, is how to be persuasive, how to control the nerves and how to prepare well.
What is needed, in a book, is an explanation of how to do these things. The belief that it is helpful to tell someone to speak slower, is similar to that of thinking it is helpful to tell a particularly angry person to calm down. There are far too many books on mooting which do nothing more than provide arbitrary comments on what makes a good advocate. However, within the vast array of mooting textbooks, you can come upon a rare gem.
The Articulate Advocate, written by Brian Johnson and Marsha Hunter, is, in this author’s opinion, one such find. Instead of focussing on the general rules and structure of a moot, the book breaks down the various issues associated with nerves and presentation. It is doubtful that students with an interest in advocacy care about the general structure of a moot. In actuality, every competition has its own list of rules which can ultimately be applied to varying degrees depending on the whether the judge agrees with them. What is of interest, however, is how to be persuasive, how to control the nerves and how to prepare well.
This approach is aimed at helping advocates to develop a routine, which brings awareness through the body.
This compartmentalised approach is aimed at helping advocates to develop a routine, which brings awareness through the body. This system is designed with two results in mind. The first is to improve posture and appear more confident. The second is to create a ritual which acts to calm the nerves and allow the advocate to ride the wave of adrenaline. The style of the book continues in this manner throughout the four chapters; touching on pace, phrasing and the delivery of submissions.
The extent to which the reader will find this helpful will depend on the time spent practicing. The actual act of mooting and advocating is the principal way in which to improve your skill level. Reading is simply not enough on its own, and there are a number of unhelpful texts in this regard. However, there will be an odd find which can allow you to hone you ability in between moots. Such texts can be essential in that often difficult task of self-analysis. Therefore, after the smoke has cleared from the court room battle, you may find it helpful to sit down with a good book and work on improving your skill from a position of on-going experience. Just remember to choose the right sort of text.