Don’t Use PowerPoint as a Crutch in Trial or Anywhere

by Ryan H. Flax

The goal of a presentation is always the same — to engage the audience, to move them.  This rule of thumb holds true regardless of the stage. It’s so in the courtroom, on the floor of the U.S. Congress, in the boardroom, and in the classroom. Litigators engage a jury to win their case for their client; professors engage their students so that they can best teach the subject matter. Engagement leads to better understanding, which then leads to better retention and enhanced persuasiveness. Retention and understanding are the keys to success.

As a student of presentation technique, I was especially lucky over the last summer to have two terrific sources of experiential information on the subject and a good deal of insight in to what works and what does not.  My sources were Ms. Shawn Estrada and Ms. Jessica Dunaye, two of our summer interns at A2L, who have some pretty specific thoughts about presentation style after having sat through over 2,000 lectures from many, many professors and students throughout their college careers. After having spent a summer with A2L, learning first-hand how great litigators operate and now they are counseled themselves by litigation and jury consultants, they strongly believe that the litigation presentation techniques espoused by the A2L team are relevant in many aspects of life.

Here are some of the interesting tidbits from these two.  They had so much to offer, I’ve divided their points into a series of articles.

Read more here: http://www.a2lc.com/blog/bid/68012/dont-use-powerpoint-as-a-crutch-in-trial-or-anywhere?source=Blog_Email_%5BDon%27t%20Use%20PowerPoint%5D

 

powerpoint reading slides litigation courtroom ecard

 

Attorneys’ Analogies Are A Lot Like My In-laws Dancing At Weddings (Or, Your “Metaphor” Is Actually A Simile)

By Thomas M. O’Toole, Ph.D.

If there is a complex issue that jurors need to understand, I’m a fan of identifying communication strategies that help jurors understand the issue directly, rather than understanding what the issue is “kind of like.” Visual communication should always be the first resort in this scenario. Graphics can simplify an issue much more effectively than analogies and can often do so in a more persuasive manner, while avoiding the risks that analogies and metaphors present. A graphic is not just a pretty picture; it is visual advocacy. Effective graphics break an issue down into understandable parts, capture the logical flow of the issue, and show jurors how it fits perfectly within the legal framework of the case. This is where the slideshow style of PowerPoint can be particularly helpful. It’s not just one picture but a progressive series of pictures that tie multiple items together in a simple and persuasive manner that both motivates and arms jurors to be effective advocates on complex issues during deliberations.

Bottom line, it’s time to put the brakes on the use of analogies and metaphors by attorneys at trial. My aunt-in-law Josephine’s dancing is amusing because we only have to witness it every few years. The same can be said about attorneys’ use of metaphors and analogies: they are best when used sparingly or not at all.  There are many better routes to persuasion that metaphors, and each one starts with visual communication.

 

Read more here:

http://soundjuryconsulting.com/blog/?p=85

wedding dancing

TED Talks – Elizabeth Loftus: The Fiction of Memory

Memory is a remarkable and fragile phenomenon. Or so says Elizabeth Loftus, a researcher and psychologist whose TED talk is the basis for this blog post.

Memory is an important component of our lives as actors and performers and certainly an important part of the lives of lawyers and their witnesses. Attorneys rely on their clients and their witnesses for memories of events, contracts, their actions and the actions of all the folks who are a part of the trial story. For many years, the research has shown that eyewitness testimony can be remarkably UNRELIABLE. Elizabeth Loftus in this enlightening talk expands on this through her own research.

Read more here:

http://legalstage.com/2013/10/03/ted-talks-elizabeth-loftus-the-fiction-of-memory/

Consider How You Come Across With the Volume Off

By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:

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We know communication is visual and not just verbal. But when litigators think of that, they tend to think of demonstrative exhibits and technology. But what about themselves? As a speaker, you’re making a visual impression as well. Most know the basics: stand up straight, look the jury or judge in the eye, use a few gestures. But in practice, attorneys want to expect that in court, content is king and what we say matters more than how we look when we say it. But some surprising research shows that more than we expect is coming through the visual channel.

The studies use the technique of asking research participants to assess a communicator without the aid of sound. Watching a music competition with the sound off, for example, (Tsay, 2013) both amateur and professional musicians were able to correctly predict the competition winners, and did so at a level that was better than those who heard and those who both heard and saw the performance. Similarly, experimental participants unfamiliar with the candidates were able to identify the election winner after simply watching ten-second silent video clips of a gubernatorial debate (Benjamin & Shapiro, 2009). As with the music competition research, turning the sound on tended to worsen the accuracy.

 

Read more here:

http://www.persuasivelitigator.com/2013/09/consider-how-you-come-across-with-the-volume-off.html

Nailing a Presentation in the First 60 Seconds

Whether you are making a presentation at your local library or to senior executives at your firm, the first 60 seconds set you up for success or failure.

Everything most precious to me in this world is the result of the first 60 seconds of a speech I gave on a cold day in Philadelphia. It was my turn to speak during a Wharton MBA Toastmasters program; I would be given a topic, and then would have to begin without advance preparation.

My topic: explain why MBAs aren’t all greedy jerks.

Terrified of boring the audience, I decided to flip the topic and embrace the dark side. My speech was a rant about how MBAs are all-powerful masters of the universe (note to readers: I was kidding.)

The first 60 seconds you spend in front of an audience are pivotal. If you’re nervous or too excited, time can be a blur. But this is when the audience decides whether or not they like you, and it’s your best opportunity to get in a groove that will guide you through the rest of your presentation.

I’d like to make the following suggestions:

Plan your opening in advance. You should know exactly…

Read more here:

http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130918033719-36792-nailing-a-presentation-in-the-first-60-seconds

Know Your Fallacies When Presenting in Court

By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:

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Remember the list of fallacies? For many of us, it might fall in the category of things we learned at one point in our lives, probably in a logic or communication class, and then mostly set aside in our practical lives. After all, it can seem a little pedantic, or even arrogant, to call them out. “Hey, that’s a fallacy!” isn’t likely to work when examining a witness or persuading a jury. You could point out, “Your honor, opposing counsel is resorting to the common tu quoque or, ‘you too’ fallacy, in pointing to my discovery behavior in order to defend his own.” That isn’t likely to get you very far either. So is it worth it to remember and use the fallacies at all?

Some Common Fallacies of Legal Persuasion

Fallacies are ways of arguing that seem to offer proof or persuasive merit, while not actually contributing support. In that sense of being pleasing counterfeits, they’re as much psychological as they are logical. Here are the ones that I think are most common in our context.

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc: ‘After this, therefore because of this’ or, as the book refers to it, ‘Not a cause, for a cause.’

Shortly after the product redesign, that’s when the complaints and incidents started to occur…

Read more here:

http://www.persuasivelitigator.com/2013/09/know-your-fallacies.html

Don’t Overlook This Simple Yet Effective Point in Your Presentation

by: Bethany Auck

Strong_Slide_Titles_Slide_Design

There is no more greatly undervalued place on a presentation slide than the title field. Too often, title fields are filled with vague descriptors, packed with unnecessary verbage, or, worse, skipped all together (e.g. the Zimmerman trial prosecution slides). Slide titles have great real estate and should be put to use. Here are five rules of thumb for powerful slide titles.

1. Don’t Label

Labeling a slide with a vague descriptor may be the most common titling fail. Titles like “Revenue Chart,” and “Conclusion” are all too common and sometimes appear on several slides in a row. Nothing could be more useless for the audience.

A title is not a label; it is a headline. What specific information is this slide sharing? If multiple slides in the deck have the same headline, there are likely too many slides.

2. Argue

Even specific titles, while a vast improvement, fall short of their full potential. A title like “2014 Revenue Goals” is specific to its content, but falls short of driving home the argument of the slide. “2014: Increasing Revenue Via Product A” further clarifies the inherent argument of the data. Not only should a slide headline be specific to its exact content, but it should argue your point and lay bare a specific takeaway message. It should answer the question, What does this slide want to prove? What should the audience

Read more here:

http://visualsugar.wordpress.com/2013/07/31/slide-design-5-tips-for-hardworking-titles/?goback=.nmp_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1.gmp_3809594.gde_3809594_member_262383245