Best Article I’ve Read This Week: Powerful Points to Consider with PowerPoint

By: Suann Ingle

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PowerPoint continues to take a lot of hits lately for being ubiquitous, pointless, overused, over-animated, flashy, over-relied upon and distracting in many different fields – education, healthcare, government, law, corporate life to name only a few. This should surprise no one, especially since it has become so widely used. In a 2012 piece, BusinessWeek estimated one billion installations of the software. That same article also estimated 350 presentations happening every second across the globe. It should also surprise no one that almost as many opinions about its evolving worth have resulted.

Its widespread use is likely similar to what Microsoft Word did to both writing (I type, Voila! therefore I write) and to the lost art of typesetting by hand (if you still double space after a period, you shouldn’t). Courtrooms and other venues of dispute resolution are increasingly wired and ready for such presentations. And with an estimated 95% of the presentation software market cornered, PowerPoint is the go-to tool many legal teams use to preview and highlight evidence they expect to come in at trial, and also to sum up the evidence that actually has come in when they argue closing. In addition, they use the software to organize their thoughts, thinking perhaps that they are saving time.

PowerPoint is an incredibly sophisticated and versatile tool, one that in the right hands can also be an effective and persuasive complement to an oral presentation in the courtroom. This essay explores the current use of PowerPoint in courtroom presentations. It imagines a higher level of quality when “beauty” is considered and applied, that differentiates from the expected, safe, pedestrian types of presentations.

Read the full article here:

http://www.thejuryexpert.com/2014/05/powerpoint-in-the-courtroom-powerful-points-to-consider/

Developing Graphics for Litigation? Ask Yourself This Question….

I was recently working on a case with a long time client, when this question popped into my head: Why does this matter?

We were assembling case themes, and subsequent graphics, for his opening presentation and struggling to condense his 55-slide presentation to conform to a 45 minute time limit.  This client is a well-respected orator, so I had no worries that he would be able to persuade the audience with his dialogue, but I was genuinely concerned that he would overwhelm them with his dense visual presentation. As I culled through the slides, trying to find materials that I could cut, I kept asking myself the same question over and over again: Why does this matter?

Knowing that we had to cut this presentation in order to not overwhelm the jury, as well as get our point across, our goal was to strategically eliminate slides that didn’t hold up to the scrutiny of this imperative question.  We have to remember, that our opening presentation isn’t the time to put on our entire case, but rather provide a road map of why were are here, where we are going and how we are going to get there.  These three questions can easily be answered in less than an hour, through engaging your audience with a mix of an oratory and carefully selected visuals.

If the answer to this question is glaringly evident, particularly with your opening presentation, then most likely need to cut whatever it is you’re looking and save it for later, or not at all.  Remember: our goal in opening is to simply lay the foundation of our story in an abbreviated time frame.

It’s no coincidence that as I’m writing this article, a client (partner at a large NYC law firm) emailed regarding a current matter we are working on.  He had reviewed the presentation, created by two associates, and commented “we need to cut this down; the jury will be asleep in under 20 minutes.”  He knew what his associates should have been asking from the start, and if they did, could have saved valuable time, and money, as trial quickly approached.

 

Why does this graphic matter?  Because it combines three case themes, represents critical data and has an immediately recognized takeaway.

So, the next time you are creating your visual presentation for trial, arbitration, meditation or a hearing, don’t forget to ask: Why does this matter?

If you need assistance with this imperative question, feel free to contact me on LinkedIn or at DMykel@VisuaLexLLC.com

 

Writing a Legal Brief? Try This Easy and Innovative Technique to Deliver Your Argument

Writing a Legal Brief?  Try This Easy and Innovative Technique to Deliver Your Argument
A commonly held belief is that litigation graphics are only for trial; unfortunately, this is applying an ancient approach to a modern day submission.  We asked some of our top clients (who include some of the top law firms in the US) why they use graphics in theirs briefs, and we received a resounding answer: visuals are the best way to communicate large amounts of data into one cohesive point.  When our clients are faced with complicated, convoluted charts or excel spreadsheets full of thousands of points of data, they call us.  The reason we always get this phone call from our most trusted clients is two-fold:

Because we have taught them that one graph (line, bar, or the like) can represent hundreds, if not thousands, of pieces of data in a simple uncomplicated way where the judge can immediately understand our argument

AND

With the limited amount of pages they are allowed in a brief, they understand each page needs to be as impactful as possible.

Below is a perfect example how we assisted a client with their recent brief.  Our client was faced with a very strict page limitation, but needed to include numerous financial data in order to make our argument plausible.  We condensed over 2100 (over 100 pages of Excel entries) pieces of data into one, static, comprehensive graphic that not only told our client’s story, but allowed the judge to understand a key argument with minimal cognitive overload. More importantly, our client was able to maximize the number of pages in their brief to help support their argument, which, in turn lead to a favorable ruling for our side moving forward.

 

Progressive litigators realize the value of utilizing visuals in all aspects of their case.  Visuals are no longer just for trial, but can also be used during motions, hearings, Markmans and even trial briefs.  If you’re using graphics only for trial, you’re already giving your opponent an advantage before stepping into the courtroom.

If you have any questions about gaining a competitive edge over your adversary, feel free to contact me at via LinkedIn.

 

 

Judge Awards $1.03 MIL for “Necessary” Trial Support (graphics and technology) Compensation

This ruling reflects a drastic paradigm shift in our legal system from the traditions of paper and overheads to trial presentation systems and cutting edge graphics.  It’s refreshing to see a landmark ruling like this and how the judge identifies with the jurors’ expectations of a technologically savvy presentation. He goes on to suggest that the judiciary should encourage such cutting edge presentations like this as they not only save the court and juror’s time (as well as tax payer’s dollars), but are also professional and respectful.

The opposition’s comment on the use of technology and graphics in trial was laughable and borderline malpractice when representing a billion dollar client in a suit worth hundreds of millions of dollars.  Opposing counsel had this to say, in light of the ruling:

“For hundreds of years, he noted, juries reached verdicts with technology confined to ink on paper.”

Really?  Like I said, borderline malpractice….

By TIM O’REILEY
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

Hong Kong businessman Richard Suen was awarded $1.03 million Wednesday to cover expenses for his six-week trial that ended in May, 10 percent less than he had requested but far more than the 90 percent discount requested by his one-time client, Las Vegas Sands Corp.

In taking 39 minutes to deliver his ruling from the bench…

Read more here:

http://www.reviewjournal.com/business/casinos-gaming/judge-oks-103-million-plaintiffs-expenses-las-vegas-sands-trial?goback=.gde_2276605_member_277061252#!

https://i0.wp.com/eagnews.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/judge-gavel.jpg

Follow the Ten Commandments of Graphics Use in Trial

By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:

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A recent blog post written by a juror in the trial of Jim Fayed, a gold trader convicted of arranging the brutal murder of his estranged wife in a Los Angeles parking garage, included some rather colorful descriptions of the prosecutor’s use of demonstrative graphics:

…And then there were the assistant DA’s unnecessarily omnipresent PowerPoint slides. 

Here are some actual quotes:
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“If Jim Fayed didn’t do it, who did? BATMAN?” Click: Batman slide.
.
“The defense is offering you a buffet of explanations.” Click: buffet slide.
….

Effective trial presentation is an art, and litigators should use every effective tool at their disposal to practice and hone that art. But when the techniques call attention to themselves is when “art” becomes “artiface.” Some would point to this example and say, “See! This is what happens when litigators wed themselves to PowerPoint and other presentation crutches in opening and closing.” But the problem in this case is not the use of visuals and PowerPoint, but the way they’re used

Read more here:

http://www.persuasivelitigator.com/2013/03/follow-the-ten-commandments-of-graphics-use-in-trial.html

This is How to Address Witness Contamination in a Visually Persuading Manner

Witness contamination or tampering is something that rarely comes up in high-stakes litigation, but when it does, it’s typically met with foundation-shaking consequences.

In a recent matter, our client wanted to visually make the point that nearly all of opposing witnesses’ testimony contained cross references to other witnesses’ statements. In addition, when these witnesses were asked under oath about the other witnesses’ statements they relied upon or cited to, many of them were quite unfamiliar with the actual content which they had included in their own statements. Unbelievably, some witnesses testified that they had never even read the other witness statements.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Originally, our trial team wanted to attach a summary of the evidence supporting this argument to their brief. However, since their text version of the chart spanned 3 pages and they were constrained by a judicially imposed page limitation, they decided to forgo the attachment and defer presenting support for this point to the oral argument. Our client, knowing that 70% of the population is composed of visual learners, tasked us with developing a more concise, yet visually effective way of presenting this evidence at a later hearing. The VisuaLex consultants were able to transform 3 pages of dense text into a single base illustration with a handful of repetitive building screens that put some meat on the bones of the argument. The “web-like” quality of the graphic visually communicated the “contamination” aspect of the issue.
We repeated that visual foundation in subsequent screens, but only highlighted the reliance on other witness statements for a particular witness, so we could add relevant testimony showcasing their lack of knowledge of actual content and/or acknowledgement of never reading the statements they relied upon. Finally, we implemented a VisuaLex standard, by crafting a title that succinctly told our story and gave the “takeaway” of our argument.

After the hearing, our client happily reported to us that the Tribunal found this graphic series to be extremely helpful in understanding the facts buttressing our argument and, in fact, actually laughed when the graphic made its appearance on the display screens.

Do you want to know how we can transform your case information into a precise, visual communication strategy?

Do you want to experience the reasons why the top litigators in the country won’t go to trial without us? Contact us at info@visualexllc.com or (914)674-2242.

http://www.visualexllc.com/newslettervol4/ClarityVol4.html#trenches