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

 

Follow the Ten Commandments of Graphics Use in Trial

By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:

246071747_d8520ea114_b
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:
.
“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

Avoid Market Research Mistakes in Your Mock Trial

By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:

Market Research Sphere
In a recent piece in Forbes online, Roger Dooley tells his own story of a spectacular market research failure. His company was involved in metal sales and competed in a market with an overall price similarity. Thinking that their product had some quality advantages over the competition, the company wanted to charge a higher price. The market research they did showed that price came in dead last as a concern, with likely customers focused on quality, delivery speed, and customer service instead.

Roger Dooley’s audience for this piece is market researchers, but the critique and the caution applies just as well to those who conduct litigation focus group and mock trial projects. There are definite similarities between the legal pretrial research and the market research fields, since we often use the same recruiters, the same facilities, and have similar goals in testing the public’s reaction to new information.

Read more here:

http://www.persuasivelitigator.com/2013/10/avoid-market-research-mistakes-in-your-mock-trial.html

Simplify and Emphasize in Litigation Graphics

By

Rendering dropwise addition photo

In oral argument, a litigator has very limited time—she needs to hit the high points and move on. She must communicate enough information to convince the judge or jury of her argument, yet must avoid getting mired in details that will only confuse.

Good litigation graphics can counter this time crunch by allowing an attorney to communicate clearly and quickly. The adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” reflects the truth that our brains quickly process and understand images.

To support an argument, graphics should be tightly tied to the key points of the advocate’s message.

Read more here:

http://cogentlegal.com/blog/2013/10/simplify-emphasize-in-litigation-graphics/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+CogentLegalBlog+%28Cogent+Legal+Blog%29

Know the Difference Between Debate and Trial Advocacy

By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:

5795107160_6017de054f_z

There is a tendency, particularly within law, to equate argumentation and persuasion: How do you persuade? By offering arguments, of course. But that isn’t all of it, or even necessarily the half of it. You win the argument when your point cannot be refuted, but you persuade only when your target is convinced. Over the years, most formats of academic debate have clearly chosen argument over persuasion. No self-respecting debate judge would admit that they are siding with the winner because they more fully understand and accept that side’s advocacy. Instead they will say, often in excruciating detail…

Read more here:

http://www.persuasivelitigator.com/2013/10/know-the-difference-between-debate-and-trial-advocacy.html

Show You’re Sorry, Even When You’re Not at Fault

By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:

3736122183_a79dbf907c_z
When someone causes you some kind of harm, say they step on your foot, they’ll say “I’m sorry.” When you’ve experienced some kind of misfortune or loss, like a death in the family, people will again say, “I’m sorry.” In that latter example, they aren’t (we presume) admitting that they had anything to do with the death. In the first example, “sorry” means “I wish I hadn’t done that.” In the second example, “sorry” means “I recognize your loss.” Two different acts that just happen to share the same word, “sorry.” As we’ve noted before, letting jurors, judges, and opposing parties hear an apology can be effective when you are responsible, or are likely to be found responsible, for at least part of the damage at issue in the case. But what about when you’re not? Does that second kind of “sorry,” meaning “I recognize your loss, but without accepting responsibility for it” create a persuasive advantage as well?

According to some new research, yes, it does. Calling them “superfluous apologies,”…

Read more here:

http://www.persuasivelitigator.com/2013/10/show-youre-sorry-even-when-youre-not-at-fault.html