Mediation requires different advocacy skills than litigation; such differences are highlighted in a mediation opening statement. A poorly prepared, adversarial opening statement can derail or even terminate a mediation before the discussion has even begun. However, a conciliatory and settlement focused opening statement geared towards collaboration and understanding sets the appropriate tone for the negotiations and mentally prepares all sides for reaching an agreement. Mediation opening statements require forethought and practice, with a conscious regard of tone, body language, and word choice, they should not be discounted as an important tool in the toolkit of a successful mediation. This program will explore the differences between opening statements in mediation and litigation; when mediation opening statements should be utilized; who should speak (i.e. client and/or advocate or both) and how to prepare a mediation opening statement strategically in order to advance your goals. The program aims to help advocates have a deeper understanding of the art of the opening statement to set the right tone and begin the mediation session with the best possible foundation for success.