Three Critical Components in Litigation Graphic Design That You’re Not Doing Published in The Jury Expert

Here at the Art of Trial Sciences, we are pleased to announce that our latest article, Three Critical Components in Litigation Graphic Design That You’re Not Doing, has been published by The Jury Expert.

Consultant David Mykel’s  “3 Critical Components in Litigation Graphic Design That You’re Not Doing” was recently published in the new issue of The Jury Expert.  The Jury Expert is the preeminent national publication on jury research and litigation communication in the country. Developed by the American Society of Trial Consultants, its goal is to bring the latest in research, skills, and strategy regarding how the legal profession tries cases.  Being a peer-reviewed publication, The Jury Expert is a collection of articles from the foremost professionals in the field, and VisuaLex is happy to be among them.

To understand why clients turn to us for presentations in high exposure matters, go here:


Three Critical Components in Litigation Graphic Design That You’re Not Doing

As litigators, we are standing at the edge of another revolution in trial advocacy. In the 1990s and early 2000s, the technology revolution transformed courtrooms around the country into multi-media presentation theaters. The next revolution is going to ensure that audiences are just as engaged as they are at an IMAX: prepare for the Visual Revolution. With almost 70% of the population being visual learners (Deza, Michel Marie & Elena (2009), Encyclopedia of Distances, Springer) and more and more people getting their information from the internet (49% according to Pew Research Center for the People & the Press), the threshold is near. Knowing this, each and every case that comes through a modern courtroom needs to be told in a visually compelling manner that turns complex facts into a clear and coherent story.

We are dealing with a different breed of audience; one that embraces technology, spends 141 hours in front of a television, and 41 hours a month online (A2/M2 Three Screen Report, Nielsen Media. Vol. 5, 2Q, 2009.). Our audience is pioneering this Visual Revolution and we too need to make this transition by creating an engaging story using multimedia tools to meet the ever changing needs of this modern, visual, and “instant information” culture. The more effective your courtroom presentation is, the more persuasive your argument is going to be, and the easiest way to accomplish this is with a visual framework and strategy.

In my twelve-year career as a litigation consultant, I have witnessed numerous graphics that have not embraced this ever-changing culture’s wants and needs. I have reviewed and critiqued countless visuals that have been carelessly laid out and unintentionally colored, while scrutinizing others that were difficult to read and even more difficult to understand. Visuals have departed from their original, intended purpose of telling a cohesive visual story and have become glorified word processing or a mix of improperly laid out, poorly selected images with an obscene election of colors.

In this day and age of “web-based learners,” our communication strategy needs to be structured and adhere to the same concepts to which our audiences are exposed daily. This article will demonstrate how to implement easy-to-follow tactics into your next presentation and take your communication to the level your audience expects.

Properly Placed Titles and Subtitles in Consistent and Prominent Areas

Placing titles and subtitles in the same spot every time teaches your audience where to look whenever a new visual is introduced. The overwhelming majority of the population reads left to right and top to bottom. Beginning your title in the upper left-hand corner takes full advantage of how your audience learns and educates them where to expect something important to be located. Placing your title and subtitle, which should also be your takeaway, in this strategic position ensures that your audience sees and understands the context and the theme of the graphic first, before other aspects are viewed and considered. We recommend creating two to three template variations that allow for horizontal and vertical positioning of the title and subtitle to accommodate different types of information. Creating a few templates allows more latitude in choosing the best layout to display a variety of documents, images, charts, etc., yet still focuses your audiences’ attention to the same location for your theme (i.e. takeaway).

A client on a recent case, commented that “a good demonstrative, can immediately convey a message in a single look,” and in our experience, nothing makes this easier than a perfectly worded and placed title.


Consistently Formatted Text, Data, and Images

Adhering to the same principles above, it is a smart practice to consistently format text, data, and images. Effective presentations should always support two principles: education and persuasion. Just as we are educating our audiences about our case, we are also aiding/training them to recognize the visual structure of the presentation by teaching the viewer to “know” where to look for important points. Conversely, if you constantly shift where important text, data, and images appear your audience will become confused as to whether or not this data is meaningful, leaving it up to them to decide. Remember, if you don’t show your audience how to assess what is important to your case, they will do it for you, and the result may not be what you wanted or intended.

Presenting information in this fashion enables both presenters and readers to readily ‘find’ critical data during testimony. As communication experts, we know individuals are more likely to be emotionally and/or logically tied to a decision when they themselves have reached it, compared to when another party determines it for them.


Consistent Application of Color in Diagrams, Icons, Labels, and Backgrounds

Since color plays a vital role in our everyday psychology, it would be irresponsible if we ignored it in our presentations. Color has the ability to influence our feelings and emotions in a way that few other mediums can. Color is a catalyst for affecting human mood, behavior, thinking, and rationale. Color invokes emotions, which is why marketing gurus have been integrating color into their strategies for centuries. Do you think the Coca Cola cans have remained red for decades by accident? If you’re thoughtlessly mixing colors throughout your presentation, you may end up unintentionally influencing your audience in the wrong direction.


When creating presentations for our clients, our consultants use blue or green, since it represents honor, trust, and calmness to identify our side of the case. We use the most emotionally intense color, red, for our opposition, because it represents danger and caution. By assigning a consistent color to the parties in a case, we ensure that each side is easily discernible and the point-of-view we’re advocating is clearly drawn.


Color can not only be used to differentiate parties, but also to help focus your audience on key information within a graphic. When trying to call attention to something, we utilize yellow highlighting (associated with liveliness and energy) to focus our audience’s concentration and let them know “hey, this is important.”


Colors can be a powerful tool to entice and engage your target audience and when used in a decisive manner, can be the difference between a visual that persuades and a visual that confuses or distracts.


You may notice something “consistent” about these points. Consistency in your strategy, your communication, and your presentation should go hand-in-hand. Grabbing your audience’s attention is not simply about communication processes; it is a strategic necessity, and the only true way to do this, is by investing as much time in your visual framework as you invest in your strategy. You could craft the most persuasive themes ever uttered in a courtroom but if you present them in a convoluted and unorganized manner, your case will fall short of your desired verdict. Think of it this way: What good is the perfect oratory presentation if your audience is deaf? Remember, nearly 70% of the population are visual learners, so we need to ensure we are addressing our audience’s wants and needs at THEIR level, not OURS.

After completing hundreds of post-trial interviews with jurors, one thing is clear: if we don’t supplement our case strategy with compelling, deliberately well-crafted visuals, our audience will be distracted and tune-out, forgetting our themes and dismissing the merits of our case. Following these simple, yet imperative rules will ensure your audience stays engaged throughout your presentation and empowers them to advocate your themes throughout deliberations and verdict.

David W Mykel is a Litigation Communications Consultant with VisuaLex, LLC, a litigation and graphics consulting firm located in New York City serving clients nationwide for over 25 years. Mykel assists clients on high exposure matters where he leverages his litigation experience and background in psychology in order to develop communication and presentation strategies that drive verdicts. From interviewing thousands of jurors and logging countless hours in the courtroom, Mr. Mykel has developed a unique perspective that allows him to utilize the tenets of art and the methodologies of science in order to create litigation graphics and presentation strategies that resonate with both jurors and judges.

Avoid This Common Mistake in Your Litigation Graphic Design BEFORE Going to Court

Presentation Points

Expert Presentation Tips from the Consultants at VisuaLex

Today’s software and technologies give us the capability of doing a lot of things to visualize our presentations, ideas, and concepts. However, we must be careful not to detract from the message by incorporating too many bells and whistles at once. A frequent mistake in litigation graphics is allowing the aesthetic to take center stage and ignoring the content of our presentations. Performing a simple test on each graphic is one way to overcome this common pitfall. Hold a copy of your demonstrative at arm’s length and ask the question: In viewing this, what am I taking away? If the answer is not readily apparent or if it is not one of the strategic themes of your case, it is a strong indication that you should go back to the drawing board. The goal for each illustration is to deliver one compelling, stand-alone statement that conveys your intended message and resonates with the viewer. The end result is to not attract attention to your presentation method, transitions, borders, background, etc. but rather to clarify the content. In order to give the most convincing presentation, make sure you are “communicating” and not just simply “decorating.”

-David W. Mykel


Want to Become a Better Communicator? Become a Better Leader


The lack of leadership abilities, an inability to engender respect and overall poor performance was killing his profits. Unfortunately, while his way of describing his leaders was a novel one (i.e., morbid curiosity), the existence of poor leadership is anything but a novelty.

The most commonly occurring of these competencies are:

  • Envision an Outcome – The ability to clearly envision a strategic outcome, think conceptually and see the big-picture.
  • Understand Others – Often called “Emotional Intelligence” this is the ability to accurately understand those being lead.
  • Inspire Others – Brining understanding of the strategic vision and emotional intelligence together to effectively communicate that vision and achieve buy in.
  • Understand Themselves – One of the most overlooked traits, this is the ability to objectively understand one’s own strengths and weaknesses.

Complete Your Leadership Talents Profile Here

By guest author Jay Niblick, Founder/CEO – Innermetrix Inc.


Want to Become a More Powerful and Confident Communicator? Fake it til You Become it

In an amazing presentation, Havard professor Amy Cuddy, gives inspirational advice in dealing with fears and communicating in an effective way through a simple, quick process.

Body language affects how others see us, but can it also change how we see ourselves?  Social psychologist Amy Cuddy shares an easy way that anyone can change not only others’ perceptions of them, but the way they feel about themselves .

In her 20 minute TED talks, Cuddy points out that, “Tiny tweaks can lead to big changes.”



The Simple Influences of Social Psychology on Complex Things

How is it that people can be convinced to say “yes” to something even if they may not be interested in the idea on its merits? In other words, why are we such suckers? Why do we end up saying “yes” to salespeople selling us products we don’t want all the time?

In the video below, Cialdini explains why we are so susceptible. (click the social psychology link)

The Neuropsychology of Persuasion: 6 Shortcuts to Winning Someone Over


In our increasingly overloaded lives today we need shortcuts, or rules of thumb, to guide our decision-making. So says Big Think expert Robert Cialdini, professor of marketing and psychology at Arizona State University

Cialdini’s research is based on six fundamental principles of human influence: reciprocity, scarcity, authority, consistency, liking and consensus. Cialdini says that if these principles are employed in an ethical manner, they can significantly increase the chances that someone will be persuaded by your request.

These shortcuts are explained in the video animation here:

Learn How the iPad is Becoming More and More Practical for Litigation

Remarks is a new PDF app designed for the iPad from the fine folks at Readdle who know a thing or two about annotation and PDFs on the mobile screen. It is a fully featured PDF annotating application, with a variety of tools to fine-tune your marks. You can highlight, underline, strikeout text, draw upon the documents – that means pretty much anything you can do with the document on paper.

You can get Remarks for $4.99 in the app store – a small price to pay if it becomes your favorite note-taking, PDF annotating, document collaboration app on the go.

reblogged from the Advocates Studio here:

Communicating with Your Expert

Communicating is one of the most influential things we do on a daily basis. Whether we are communicating to our assistants, our colleagues, a judge, jury or with an expert, what we say and how we say it can have a profound effect on the outcome.

This ABA section delivers some easy, yet crucial tips, when communicating with our experts.


-David W Mykel

The Art of Trial Sciences