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Authors

KenLopez resized 152

Ken Lopez founded A2L Consulting in 1995. The firm has since worked with litigators from all major law firms on more than 10,000 cases with over $2 trillion cumulatively at stake.  The A2L team is comprised of psychologists, jury consultants, trial consultants, litigation consultants, attorneys and information designers who provide jury consulting, litigation graphics and trial technology.  Ken Lopez can be reached at lopez@A2LC.com.


ryanflax blog litigation consultant 

Ryan H. Flax, Esq., Managing Director, Litigation Consulting, joined A2L Consulting on the heels of practicing Intellectual Property (IP) law as part of the Intellectual Property team at Dickstein Shapiro LLP, a national law firm based in Washington, DC.  Over the course of his career, Ryan has obtained jury verdicts totaling well over $1 billion in damages on behalf of his clients and has helped clients navigate the turbulent waters of their competitors’ patents.  Ryan can be reached at flax@a2lc.com.


dr laurie kuslansky jury consultant a2l consulting
Laurie R. Kuslansky, Ph.D, Managing Director, Trial & Jury Consulting, has conducted over 400 mock trials in more than 1,000 litigation engagements over the past 20 years. Dr. Kuslansky's goal is to provide the highest level of personalized client service possible whether one's need involves a mock trial, witness preparation, jury selection or a mock exercise not involving a jury. Dr. Kuslansky can be reached at kuslansky@A2LC.com.

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The Top 10 Tips for Selling Professional Services

 

 

professional service sales tips litigation supportby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

As the founder of A2L Consulting I've had the opportunity to do every job in the company at some point in the last 20 years. I enjoy technical work that requires deeply complex thinking. I'm great at conceptualizing litigation graphics for opening statements. Not surprisingly, as CEO, I also love leadership and strategy.

However, the job I love the most is helping people connect with the right people at A2L who can solve their challenges. Usually, these challenges are related to communicating to a judge or jury, persuading a skeptical public audience, or testing to find just the right oral and visual message for a particular audience. What do I call this job? Well, the title of this post is big clue. This job is sales. 

A lot of people conjure up images of gregarious backslapping fraternity types when they think of salespeople. If you're doing it well, nothing could be further from the truth.

Sales is simply helping people solve problems. It's pretty easy when they know they have a problem, but it is certainly much harder when they have yet to perceive the problem, when you want to help them prevent a problem, or even when they have no idea that the solutions you know about exist.

In 20 years I've talked to tens of thousands of people in a sales context. I think I do sales well, and the lessons I've learned selling litigation consulting services can be applied to any professional services sale including selling as a lawyer.

Here are the top 10 tips I have for any salesperson engaging in professional services sales or pretty much sales of any type.

10. Create accountability systems. Great sales people want to be held accountable for their metrics (i.e. calls, meetings, etc.) and their results. Bad sales people hide and obfuscate. If you want to be great, get yourself a coach, a mentor or a group that you will report to weekly. Simply by talking through your metrics with someone else on a regular basis you'll become much more effective.

9. Act like your prospects. People generally like themselves. They also usually like people like themselves. If you want to be liked and respected by your prospect, behave like them. While I believe in NLP principles related to mirroring and matching techniques, I'm not being that granular. If your prospect is an introvert, be one when you're with them. If they like to go out for drinks, join them in that atmosphere. Go where the prospects are, and act like the prospects do.

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8. Tenacity is the best and most overlooked sales strategy. One study found that most sales people have given up after the fifth attempt to reach someone. However most deals are usually arrived at after at least eight contacts and attempts to get a deal done. As one blogger put it, 90% of salespeople have given up before 80% of sales are made. Very often, to be good at sales, all you have to do is stick with it. If you generally only try to reach someone a few times, you're almost guaranteed to fail as a salesperson.

7. "No's" are good news. It's probably going to take nine no's for every yes you hear in sales. Rather than seeing a "no" as an affront to your self-esteem, be grateful. You just got through one of the nine preventing you from getting to that next "yes."

6. Your existing clients have more business than you think they do. While A2L has worked with pretty much every major law firm in the country, there are really only a handful of firms where I believe we have more than 25% of the firm's annual litigation consulting spend. I've been at this 20 years, and I still have this problem. All of my serious competitors like DecisionQuest, FTI and TrialGraphix, are in the same boat. You can always dig deeper, and it is always easier, faster and cheaper to sell to current clients than it is to find new ones. Treat your current clients more like prospects and less like assets, and you'll uncover gold.

5. No one sales method works for the long-term. At A2L, our sales teams and I use a combination of four methods to generate sales. First, we do great work at A2L so we get repeat business and referrals. In professional services, results are gold, and without them, no amount of sales can help you. Second, we use this blog (here's a free subscription) to share valuable information with the kinds of people we hope to work with (5,000 subscribe already). People call us every day as a result of having read an article about jury consulting, litigation graphics, trial technology, or our visual persuasion services. Third, using a product called LawProspector, we use warm calling methods to reach out to people we know are likely to need litigation consulting services soon. Fourth, we use classic one-to-one relationship selling to build relationships for the long-term. These four methods work together like a symphony.

4. What gets measured gets done. Sorry for the cliché, but it's true. If you're not tracking every bit of sales activity you do, you shouldn't bother trying to sell, because you're just doing it wrong. You must use a CRM. Without metric tracking and accountability in some form, most people will just bounce from conversation to conversation without converting a meaningful number of deals. It feels like sales, but it's really just endless flirting.

3. You're going to sell your way no matter what, so don't try to sell like somebody else. A friend of mine who is a partner to major law firm is a very effective sales guy. He's worked at it, and he is rightfully proud of his accomplishments. He uses a sales coach, and he shared with me something that his coach told him. My friend didn't like big networking events (I can empathize), and he didn't like cold calling people. However, he knew he liked having dinner parties. So instead of uncomfortable selling methods, he has regular dinner parties with people who are prospects and people who are clients. It works for him, and his method is entirely consistent with the message I am advocating.

2. Sales is helping people. I said it earlier, but there's a lot of baggage around the word "sales." It is unwarranted. Sales is simply helping people you care about be relieved of or avoid pain. Who doesn't like to do that? Remember that the next time your confidence is down. Start helping someone.

1. C + M = $ales.  You'll make a certain number of contacts (i.e. calls, emails, handshakes) from which will you earn a certain number of meetings. From those meetings you get a certain amount of business. Anyone who tells you sales is something more than that is trying to sell you something. If you don't have enough sales, you're not going to enough meetings. If you're not getting enough meetings, you're not making enough contacts. You're probably going to need to make at least 25 contacts to generate a meeting (very cold calls can be more like 90:1). If you know your average transaction and you know your sales goal in dollars, you know exactly how many calls you need to make and how many meetings you will need to set up. Required Calls Per Week = (((Annual $ales goal / average transaction) / (10% meeting close rate)) * 25 calls to get a meeting) /48 weeks (because nobody sells 52 weeks a year).

I love hearing from other salespeople, particularly those in law firms, litigation support and other professional services. Drop me a note, and tell me what tips I missed.

Other articles related to sales, pricing methods and customer service at A2L Consulting's site:

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About A2L Consulting

•  Leading national litigation consulting firm since 1995

•  Personnel nationwide

•  Routinely voted #1 for demonstrative evidence consulting, jury consulting or intellectual property litigation consulting nationally

•  Consulted for all major law firms on 10,000+ cases with trillions of dollars cumulatively at stake offering:

Trial Consulting: mock trials, Micro-Mock™, mock Markman hearings, jury consulting, shadow juries, jury selection and more; 

Trial Graphics: legal graphics and litigation graphics, courtroom animation, video, printed foam core trial exhibits, PowerPoint presentation consulting, simplifying the case story and more; 

Trial Technology & Onsite Personnel: ebriefs (electronic briefs), hot seat operators, trial technicians, courtroom presentations and more; 

Look for A2L trial consultants, graphics consultants and jury consultants in Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD, New York, NY, Boston, MA, Alexandria, VA, Atlanta, GA, Miami, FL, Chicago, IL, Houston, Texas, Los Angeles, CA, and San Francisco, California, Wilmington, Delaware, Philadelphia, PA, Phoenix, AZ, San Antonio, Palo Alto, Dallas, Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, Richmond, VA, Salt Lake City, Denver, London, Dublin, Johannesburg, Brussels and many other cities and countries around the world. A2L Contact Information


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Practice is a Crucial Piece of the Storytelling Puzzle

 

 

practice lawyer trial mock trialby Ryan H. Flax, Esq.
Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L Consulting

This article is the last in a series of six articles about storytelling and trial preparation. Parts 1-5 are linked at the bottom of this article.

What is a trial attorney supposed to do after he or she has developed a theme and a story plus some graphics to support them visually?

The answer is, test them. I encourage you to use mock juries, not to predict the outcome of your trial, but to see what themes and facts resonate with the jurors. Doing so will help you decide which facts and story lines are worth building your case around. You can test what images and litigation graphics help make your case and which documents really make a difference when you show them to the jurors. Finally, testing with mock juries can help you figure out what type of juror you do and don’t want in your actual trial.

If using a mock jury is not in your budget, find some folks at your firm that are far removed from your case and test with them. Administrative assistants, receptionists, family members, paralegals, and junior associates are good for this testing. Enlist the services of local high school students to perform as mock jurors (they’ll gain experience and you’ll have about the right educational demographic for your jury, but consider how to deal with confidentiality).

A mock trial and testing on your peers are fancy forms of practice in litigation. Practice may not make perfect, but it will make "as good as possible." By the week of your opening statement, you should have tried out your presentation dozens of times. So many times that you can recite it without notes, without looking at your graphics and so that you are speaking and showing in perfect synchronicity. Practice it until you could sing it.

The bottom line is that to win in litigation you usually first need to win the trial. To do this you’ll need to convince jurors, who are biologically programmed to respond to stories and used to learning by watching TV and surfing the internet, that your position is the better one.  To persuade such an audience, you must communicate on their terms and in their language (to a degree). By framing your case in storylines and traditional themes and by using well-crafted visual support, you will be able to teach and argue from your comfort zone – by lecturing -- but you will provide the jurors what they need to really understand what you’re saying and give them a chance to agree with you.

Jurors who understand you are more likely to agree with you, because they feel that their emotionally based opinions are founded in logic and reason.

Although I’ve strenuously urged you to put a lot of effort into the persuasion track of trial preparation, I’m not suggesting that the other, the law track, should be abandoned or even diminished.  You must dot all your “i”s and cross all your “t”s and address every important fact that may become essential to a favorable appellate decision in your case.  But, you should split your litigation prep into these two tracks early in the case and rigorously develop both for a winning litigation strategy.

Other articles in this series and resources related to mock trials, storytelling and trial preparation on A2L Consulting's site:

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About A2L Consulting

•  Leading national litigation consulting firm since 1995

•  Personnel nationwide

•  Routinely voted #1 for demonstrative evidence consulting, jury consulting or intellectual property litigation consulting nationally

•  Consulted for all major law firms on 10,000+ cases with trillions of dollars cumulatively at stake offering:

Trial Consulting: mock trials, Micro-Mock™, mock Markman hearings, jury consulting, shadow juries, jury selection and more; 

Trial Graphics: legal graphics and litigation graphics, courtroom animation, video, printed foam core trial exhibits, PowerPoint presentation consulting, simplifying the case story and more; 

Trial Technology & Onsite Personnel: ebriefs (electronic briefs), hot seat operators, trial technicians, courtroom presentations and more; 

Look for A2L trial consultants, graphics consultants and jury consultants in Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD, New York, NY, Boston, MA, Alexandria, VA, Atlanta, GA, Miami, FL, Chicago, IL, Houston, Texas, Los Angeles, CA, and San Francisco, California, Wilmington, Delaware, Philadelphia, PA, Phoenix, AZ, San Antonio, Palo Alto, Dallas, Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, Richmond, VA, Salt Lake City, Denver, London, Dublin, Johannesburg, Brussels and many other cities and countries around the world. A2L Contact Information


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Why Trial Graphics are an Essential Persuasion Tool for Litigators

 

 

trial graphics oral visual lawyer litigator courtroomby Ryan H. Flax, Esq.
Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L Consulting

As I pointed out in my last post, the oral telling of a story must be accompanied by visuals if it is to be fully effective. Studies show that most (reportedly as high as 61-65%) of the public prefers to learn by seeing and watching. The majority of attorneys, on the other hand, do not prefer to learn this way but are auditory and kinesthetic learners: They typically learn by hearing and/or experiencing something.

This makes sense, when you think about it: We all learn this way in law school in class lectures, and we continue to learn this way as practicing attorneys by experiencing litigation. However, most people (e.g., jurors) do most of their “learning” watching television or surfing the internet.

I believe that these learning preferences are solidly based in evolution. Humans evolved from animals that had to rely on visual learning because, socially, there was a lot more to see and less ability to orally explain things to one another. Our ancestors saw what foods to collect and eat, they saw their neighbors catch a fish, they saw their father hide from a carnivore, and they learned how to live and survive to reproduce, and this visual learning style was evolutionally reinforced. I think that, unless a human is forced into a situation where he or she must hone the ability to learn by hearing a lecture, he or she will more easily learn by seeing something and relying on a person’s much stronger visual capabilities.

No matter how intelligent a person is, he or she will typically teach the same way that he or she prefers to learn. Visual learners teach by illustrating. Auditory learners teach by explaining. So, left to our own devices, we attorneys will usually teach by giving a lecture. However, there is a big problem with this in a courtroom.

Chances are that most of our jurors are visual learners, and if we try to teach them in the way most comfortable us, by giving a lecture, we’re not being as persuasive as we could be. The jurors simply will not get our points or case as well as they could.

How do you bridge the communications gap? By storytelling, as discussed in this series of articles, and with effective trial graphics. This will enable you to teach and argue from your comfort zone - by lecturing - but the trial graphics will provide the jurors what they need to really understand (or feel they understand) what you’re saying and give them a chance to agree with you. 

Research shows that visual support is an essential persuasion tool in litigation. By conducting two different studies, each having four groups of jurors (totaling about 500 subjects), researchers tested the persuasiveness and impact of opening statements in an employment discrimination case. One group of jurors saw no graphics, one group saw graphics with plaintiff’s opening, one group saw graphics with defendant’s opening, and one group saw graphics with each opening. This was done twice, for four eight total groups.

The results of this testing established not only that graphics make an argument stronger; it made jurors feel that the attorney using them was more competent, more credible, and probably more likable. The jurors retained the information better, and the result was improved verdicts for the graphics users. When plaintiff used demonstrative graphics, the defendant was seen as more liable. When the defendant used graphics, it was seen as less liable in the jurors’ eyes.

Another study by a litigation and jury consultant, Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm, investigated the effectiveness of various communication techniques, specifically as they relate to jurors.

Interestingly, this study found that there really wasn’t much difference in effectiveness when comparing techniques using:

  • no trial graphics,
  • simple flipcharts,
  • static and sporadically shown trial graphics, and
  • animated and sporadically shown trial graphics. 

This result was surprising to Broda-Bahm, and to me reading his published work. However, his study went further and found that when the “jurors” were immersed in graphics, meaning that the attorney always gave them something to see while presenting his argument, the effectiveness and persuasiveness of the presentation dramatically increased.

The bottom line is that you must use visual support to accompany your trial argument and testimony. This can take many forms, such as trial graphics, scale models, poster boards, and electronic display of evidence. Furthermore, the presentation of visual support during litigation must be an immersive experience for the jurors. So unless there is a very good reason to turn off the visual display to have the jurors focus on your face, you should be giving them something to look at.

Other trial graphics related articles and resources on A2L Consulting's site:

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About A2L Consulting

•  Leading national litigation consulting firm since 1995

•  Personnel nationwide

•  Routinely voted #1 for demonstrative evidence consulting, jury consulting or intellectual property litigation consulting nationally

•  Consulted for all major law firms on 10,000+ cases with trillions of dollars cumulatively at stake offering:

Trial Consulting: mock trials, Micro-Mock™, mock Markman hearings, jury consulting, shadow juries, jury selection and more; 

Trial Graphics: legal graphics and litigation graphics, courtroom animation, video, printed foam core trial exhibits, PowerPoint presentation consulting, simplifying the case story and more; 

Trial Technology & Onsite Personnel: ebriefs (electronic briefs), hot seat operators, trial technicians, courtroom presentations and more; 

Look for A2L trial consultants, graphics consultants and jury consultants in Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD, New York, NY, Boston, MA, Alexandria, VA, Atlanta, GA, Miami, FL, Chicago, IL, Houston, Texas, Los Angeles, CA, and San Francisco, California, Wilmington, Delaware, Philadelphia, PA, Phoenix, AZ, San Antonio, Palo Alto, Dallas, Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, Richmond, VA, Salt Lake City, Denver, London, Dublin, Johannesburg, Brussels and many other cities and countries around the world. A2L Contact Information


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Free Top-50 Articles E-Book! Help Us Celebrate 5000 Subscribers!

 


A2L Consulting Top 50 Articles cta vertby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

It may not feel as if it’s been that long, but we’ve been putting out this blog, The Litigation Consulting Report, for just about 3 ½ years. And in that time, we have written nearly 400 posts on dozens of trial and presentation-related subjects, on everything from TED talks to the George Zimmerman trial to voir dire techniques.

Our success, though, is entirely traceable to you, our readers. In these 3 ½ years, we’ve steadily accumulated regular readers, and we’re delighted to say that we just signed up our 5,000th blog subscriber! No one ever pays a dime to read A2L Consulting's blog, of course; we put it out there to educate the public and members of the legal community about trial techniques and the science of persuasion.

To celebrate reaching 5,000 blog subscribers, today we’re publishing this collection of our very best articles to date. By "very best," I mean that our readers have, by choosing which articles they read most, told us which articles they think are the best. On the Web, your clicks are your votes. We’re delighted to receive this feedback from you.

Many of these articles are geared toward lawyers going to trial, while others are more generally focused on how to give a great speech or presentation. For lawyers and others in the legal industry, we generally write about litigation consulting, litigation graphics, trial strategy and trial technology. For those outside the legal arena, we write about visual persuasion, delivering a great speech and how best to prepare for a PowerPoint presentation.

Some of these articles have been read more than 15,000 times, and we credit this readership with having helped The Litigation Consulting Report be named one of the top 100 blogs in the legal industry and one of the top 10 litigation blogs by the American Bar Association. 

I hope that you enjoy these articles. There’s really nothing else like them. And we look forward to picking up another 5,000 subscribers. Click here or on the images below to download your Top 50 A2L Consulting Articles of All-Time Free E-Book!

 

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About A2L Consulting

•  Leading national litigation consulting firm since 1995

•  Personnel nationwide

•  Routinely voted #1 for demonstrative evidence consulting, jury consulting or intellectual property litigation consulting nationally

•  Consulted for all major law firms on 10,000+ cases with trillions of dollars cumulatively at stake offering:

Trial Consulting: mock trials, Micro-Mock™, mock Markman hearings, jury consulting, shadow juries, jury selection and more; 

Trial Graphics: legal graphics and litigation graphics, courtroom animation, video, printed foam core trial exhibits, PowerPoint presentation consulting, simplifying the case story and more; 

Trial Technology & Onsite Personnel: ebriefs (electronic briefs), hot seat operators, trial technicians, courtroom presentations and more; 

Look for A2L trial consultants, graphics consultants and jury consultants in Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD, New York, NY, Boston, MA, Alexandria, VA, Atlanta, GA, Miami, FL, Chicago, IL, Houston, Texas, Los Angeles, CA, and San Francisco, California, Wilmington, Delaware, Philadelphia, PA, Phoenix, AZ, San Antonio, Palo Alto, Dallas, Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, Richmond, VA, Salt Lake City, Denver, London, Dublin, Johannesburg, Brussels and many other cities and countries around the world. A2L Contact Information


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5 Essential Elements of Storytelling and Persuasion

 


storytelling and persuasionby Ryan H. Flax, Esq.

Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L Consulting

As I pointed out in my previous blog post, when a lawyer uses storytelling effectively at trial, he or she is literally eliciting a reaction from the brain areas and the neurochemicals that are the basis of any human being’s foundation for biological survival.

Storytelling, in fact, serves the biological function of encouraging pro-social behavior. Effective stories reinforce the concepts that if we are honest and play by the right rules, we reap the rewards of the protagonist, and that if we break the rules, we earn the punishment accorded the bad guy. Stories are evolutionary innovations: They help humans remember socially important things and use that information in their lives.

To impact an audience such as a jury, a story must do three things: (1) emotionally transport the audience by moving them and having them get “lost” in it; (2) include characters facing problems and trying to overcome them, but not engaging in mere meaningless problem solving; and (3) communicate some message or moral, meaning some set of values or ideas. Otherwise, the story will seem “empty” and not important enough to pay attention to.

There are several guidelines to help you turn your evidence into a story worth telling. The essential elements you need to provide are:

  1. Theme(s) of your case
  2. Compelling characters (good/bad)
  3. Motive
  4. Conflict/Resolution
  5. Messages/Consequences

In order to figure out these elements in a lawsuit setting, the first and critical question to ask and answer is: “What really happened here?”

The most common mistake is that litigators don’t bother to ask the question, or they answer it with how it (whatever “it” is) happened. Rattling off a series of events – but not the bottom line of what happened - is disastrous to connecting with jurors and telling a compelling story about your client.  As a litigator, you must ask yourself “Why must you tell THIS story?” and “What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off?”

Other questions that will lead to the real story are:

“Why did they do that?”

“What were they thinking and feeling?”

“What did they know or not know?”

“What were their options and choices?”

“What were they each trying to accomplish?”

“Why did they succeed or fail?”

“How did that affect everyone involved?”

“Who tried to correct it? Did it work? Why or why not?”

“How did the story end? Who won or lost?”

“What caused the problem to become a lawsuit?”

“What would make it right?”

“Why is that fair?”

“Why should anyone care about what happened?”

These are the questions that the first-chair litigator and the entire trial team should brainstorm in developing the most persuasive way to present their case.  When I consult for or with trial teams, these are the types of questions I ask and insist the first chair can answer.

Finally, these rules of thumb should be followed in developing an effective trial story:

  • The simpler the story, the better.
  • The simpler the language, the better.
  • Use metaphors involving sensory descriptions.
  • Reduce the facts to a relatable story.
  • Use word pictures.

With the basics of storytelling and its importance to courtroom persuasion in mind, we must also consider how to develop a complete package of storytelling presentation. This complete package is not just the oral telling of a story, but must be accompanied by visual support. We will discuss that next.

Other A2L Consulting resources related to storytelling and persuasion at trial:

litigation consulting graphics jury trial technology

About A2L Consulting

•  Leading national litigation consulting firm since 1995

•  Personnel nationwide

•  Routinely voted #1 for demonstrative evidence consulting, jury consulting or intellectual property litigation consulting nationally

•  Consulted for all major law firms on 10,000+ cases with trillions of dollars cumulatively at stake offering:

Trial Consulting: mock trials, Micro-Mock™, mock Markman hearings, jury consulting, shadow juries, jury selection and more; 

Trial Graphics: legal graphics and litigation graphics, courtroom animation, video, printed foam core trial exhibits, PowerPoint presentation consulting, simplifying the case story and more; 

Trial Technology & Onsite Personnel: ebriefs (electronic briefs), hot seat operators, trial technicians, courtroom presentations and more; 

Look for A2L trial consultants, graphics consultants and jury consultants in Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD, New York, NY, Boston, MA, Alexandria, VA, Atlanta, GA, Miami, FL, Chicago, IL, Houston, Texas, Los Angeles, CA, and San Francisco, California, Wilmington, Delaware, Philadelphia, PA, Phoenix, AZ, San Antonio, Palo Alto, Dallas, Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, Richmond, VA, Salt Lake City, Denver, London, Dublin, Johannesburg, Brussels and many other cities and countries around the world. A2L Contact Information


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7 Reasons Litigation Graphics Consultants are Essential Even When Clients Have In-House Expertise

 

 

litigation graphics consultants understandable clear storytellingby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

I frequently encounter trial teams that say things like:

  • "My client has some graphics capabilities in-house."
  • "Our client is a top expert in the field, so they want to explain the technology to the jury in their own way."
  • "My client wants to stand up at trial and use a flip chart to explain the science."

I hear these and other similar statements most frequently in patent cases and other science or technology-focused cases. On their face, there's nothing wrong with these remarks. However, sometimes the client's desire to be helpful interferes with the trial team's ability to try the case effectively. I empathize with these litigators. Nobody likes to say "no" to a client, especially when the desire to be helpful is partially motivated by budget concerns.

When I founded A2L nearly twenty years ago, the only meaningful competition we had in the litigation graphics and courtroom animation industries came from engineering firms who also supported trial teams. A2L's offering was very different. We brought artistic lawyers and litigators in to serve as litigation graphics consultants rather than using engineers.

My rationale was simple. Engineers may be very good at illustrating a point, but they are not especially good at persuasively making a point. For that, lawyers were best suited, and they could also rely on engineering, scientific or technical support from the client and experts as needed. Our model became synonymous with what we now commonly refer to as "litigation consulting."

It didn't take too many years before our competition morphed to look at lot like A2L, and those engineering firms eventually faded away. I believe the same principles apply when evaluating how or whether to use litigation graphics consultants when the ultimate client has significant internal expertise, even artistic expertise, in-house.

Just like those engineering firms A2L used to compete with, when support is offered by in-house resources at the client's firm, it is typically highly expert, highly trained and is useful for facilitating the illustration of a point in the courtroom. However, such in-house expertise, mostly scientists, engineers and technology experts, is not normally persuasion-oriented, and this group is almost always unfamiliar with what a fact-finder needs to see in order to find for the client.

In these situations, instead of an ideal client>litigator>expert>litigation graphics consultants>fact-finder flow of information, you end up with a highly imperfect client>expert>litigator>client>fact-finder flow that results in higher costs and worse outcomes. Here are seven reasons I think a trial team needs help from outside litigation graphics consultants no matter what kind of expertise the client's in-house people can provide.

  1. Well-founded discovery fears: Anytime the client is involved in trial presentation preparations, there is a risk that they will inadvertently generate new evidence that is subject to discovery. Since litigation graphics consultants are working for the law firm, these communications are protected from discovery.

  2. Storytelling assistance: With storytelling recognized as a serious persuasion tool, it is very helpful to work with litigation graphics consultants like A2L and others who are expert in helping trial teams craft a story. See 21 Reasons a Litigator Is Your Best Litigation Graphics Consultant. No matter how expert a client is in the underlying subject matter of a case, they are not likely also presentation experts, persuasion experts or storytelling experts.

  3. Fresh set of eyes: This cliché is one of the primary reasons trial teams use litigation graphics consultants at all. When you've lived with something for a long time as a trial team does and as in-house personnel at the client do everyday, it helps to hear how experts like trained litigation graphics consultants approach the same information.

  4. A forest perspective: Closely related to the fresh pair of eyes concept, a litigation graphics consultant is not burdened with all the details when a case is presented to them. Accordingly, they are able to hear it in a way that is similar to the way a juror will. Usually, neither a trial team nor any one from the client is able to step back far enough to get out of the trees and really see the forest in the same way a jury will.

  5. Mock trial testing: Firms like A2L are not just litigation graphics consultants, but are instead full-service litigation consulting firms. One key component of a comprehensive litigation consulting firm is the ability to conduct mock trials and provide mock trial analysis of the effort by a Ph.d.-level expert. Obviously, this is not going to be an expertise offered by the client's in-house team. Testing of how a judge or jury will react to a case is critical in large cases as are testing the visuals that will be used. See 7 Reasons In-House Counsel Should Want a Mock Trial and 10 Things Every Mock Jury Ever Has Said.

  6. Persuasion science is moving fast: Great litigation graphics consultants are experts in the science of persuasion. I suspect this group of people numbers fewer than a couple of dozen people nationwide. Since your goal at trial is to persuade the fact-finders, you really want every persuasion advantage you can find. It is not realistic to expect that you will find this expertise at the client firm or even inside most law firms for that matter. See Could Surprise Be One of Your Best Visual Persuasion Tools?Font Matters - A Trial Graphics Consultant's Trick to Overcome Bias6 Studies That Support Litigation Graphics in Courtroom Presentations5 Ways to Apply Active Teaching Methods for Better Persuasion, and 8 Videos and 7 Articles About the Science of Courtroom Persuasion.

  7. Masters of PowerPoint: A litigation graphics consulting firm can run circles around mere PowerPoint users as one of our most popular articles, 16 PowerPoint Litigation Graphics You Won't Believe Are PowerPoint, and one of our most popular webinars, Using PowerPoint Litigation Graphics for the Win, demonstrate. This kind of work takes real time to develop. Just because a client can generate some imagery does not mean it can generate persuasive imagery or put it together in a way that is going to align with the decisions we're asking our fact-finders to make. At the end of the day, it is not about pictures, it is about presentation, and those two things are entirely different (if you're an expert).

Other articles and resources related to using litigation graphics consultants on A2L Consulting's site:

using litigation graphics courtroom to persuade trial graphics a2l consulting

About A2L Consulting

•  Leading national litigation consulting firm since 1995

•  Personnel nationwide

•  Routinely voted #1 for demonstrative evidence consulting, jury consulting or intellectual property litigation consulting nationally

•  Consulted for all major law firms on 10,000+ cases with trillions of dollars cumulatively at stake offering:

Trial Consulting: mock trials, Micro-Mock™, mock Markman hearings, jury consulting, shadow juries, jury selection and more; 

Trial Graphics: legal graphics and litigation graphics, courtroom animation, video, printed foam core trial exhibits, PowerPoint presentation consulting, simplifying the case story and more; 

Trial Technology & Onsite Personnel: ebriefs (electronic briefs), hot seat operators, trial technicians, courtroom presentations and more; 

Look for A2L trial consultants, graphics consultants and jury consultants in Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD, New York, NY, Boston, MA, Alexandria, VA, Atlanta, GA, Miami, FL, Chicago, IL, Houston, Texas, Los Angeles, CA, and San Francisco, California, Wilmington, Delaware, Philadelphia, PA, Phoenix, AZ, San Antonio, Palo Alto, Dallas, Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, Richmond, VA, Salt Lake City, Denver, London, Dublin, Johannesburg, Brussels and many other cities and countries around the world. A2L Contact Information


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Storytelling Proven to be Scientifically More Persuasive

 


storytelling persuasion courtroom jurorsby Ryan H. Flax, Esq.
Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L Consulting

In my last post, I discussed how important it is for every litigator to tell a story, because jurors will always frame the facts of a trial in the form of a story. As storytelling litigators, we need to relay to our audience: (1) what happened; (2) where it happened; and (3) why we care. We must set the scene: By the time you’re done with your opening statement, your audience should know “what the weather was like” (literally or figuratively) when liability arose. Finally, it’s necessary to provide a social tie-in – some reason why your jurors would wish to absorb and retell the story you’re telling. Otherwise, there’s no reason for them to pay attention.

That last bit is somewhat surprising, but is very important to remember. One of the first things that humans consider when taking in new information is its social value to them – whether it’s worth their remembering so that they can reap some value in its retelling (consider, by analogy, Facebook “status updates” and “sharing”). New information is filtered through a social network of the brain more than by our IQ centers.

When researchers studied human information uptake using MRI scanning, the areas of the brain expected to be most activated, i.e., those relating to memory, deep encoding, higher-level abstract reasoning, and executive function, were not activated. Instead, the brains’ regions central to thinking about other people’s goals, feelings, and interests (“theory of mind”) were those most highly activated. This was surprising, but is an important lesson to those of us who rely on persuasion for our livelihood.

What are the implications? Spreading ideas, norms, values, and culture depend less on IQ-type intelligence and more on the influencer’s social-cognitive abilities, use of emotions, and motivation.

We must understand two things about persuasion:

1. You cannot change jurors or their capacities; but

2. You can change your approach to them. You can tailor your approach by putting the facts into the context of a story, both verbally and visually.

An effective story provides relationships between the facts and the characters. It addresses the characters’ motives or intentions. It puts this information into a context, a physical and psychological environment – the setting. Doing these things will make you more persuasive. How do we know this? We can read the brains of storytellers and story-listeners.

Studies show that while listening to an effective story, listeners’ brains react more like participants than spectators. We say that people experiencing a deep connection are “on the same wavelength.” What’s amazing is that there is neurological truth to that.

storytelling brain mri jurorsScientists at Princeton University looked at brain scans (fMRI) of storytellers and listeners to the stories. They found that the most active areas of the brains of the speakers and listeners matched up; they were in sync, or coupled. However, this synchronized activity was found in the areas of the brain relevant to theory of mind, not in areas that drive memory or the prefrontal cortex associated with cognitive processing. The stronger the reported connection between speakers and listeners, the more neural synchronicity was observed in the test subjects (yellow color in the image above). The extent of brain activity synchronicity predicted the success of the communication – so connecting with your audience more makes you more persuasive.

Other research using brain scans reveals other important information relating to effective storytelling and will help us plan our course of action on the persuasion track. This research shows that our brains react differently based on the types of words used. Information (e.g., evidence) presented to test subjects without using sensory language stimulates only the brain’s language areas (Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas), and this is interpreted as “noise” (blah, blah, blah, blah). The task for the listener is seen as remembering words and more words – which is not fun and not interesting for the audience and makes keeping them engaged and persuading them much more difficult.

Research finds that use of sensory language actually stimulates the same areas of subjects’ brains as the original action would (e.g., the olfactory cortex when hearing descriptive words involving smell such as lavender and cinnamon, or the motor cortex when hearing about movement). Litigation is about persuasion, which can only happen, research shows, by literally changing the brain of your audience. This brain-changing requires accessing the correct neurotransmitters, which are especially present when a person is: curious, predicting, and/or emotionally engaged. These are your goals when planning your persuasive track strategy.

Oxcytocin is the neurotransmitter we most care about when attempting to persuade an audience. It’s the trust/empathy molecule. It is increased in audience members after they listen to stories eliciting empathy. Hearing inspirational stories causes more blood to flow to our brain stem. The brain stem is the part of our brain that makes our heart beat, regulates our breathing and keeps us alive. Thus, using effective storytelling to persuade means you’ve literally induced a reaction from the very substrate of your audiences’ foundation for biological survival.

Other A2L Consulting resources related to storytelling in litigation:

complex civil litigation ebook free

About A2L Consulting

•  Leading national litigation consulting firm since 1995

•  Personnel nationwide

•  Routinely voted #1 for demonstrative evidence consulting, jury consulting or intellectual property litigation consulting nationally

•  Consulted for all major law firms on 10,000+ cases with trillions of dollars cumulatively at stake offering:

Trial Consulting: mock trials, Micro-Mock™, mock Markman hearings, jury consulting, shadow juries, jury selection and more; 

Trial Graphics: legal graphics and litigation graphics, courtroom animation, video, printed foam core trial exhibits, PowerPoint presentation consulting, simplifying the case story and more; 

Trial Technology & Onsite Personnel: ebriefs (electronic briefs), hot seat operators, trial technicians, courtroom presentations and more; 

Look for A2L trial consultants, graphics consultants and jury consultants in Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD, New York, NY, Boston, MA, Alexandria, VA, Atlanta, GA, Miami, FL, Chicago, IL, Houston, Texas, Los Angeles, CA, and San Francisco, California, Wilmington, Delaware, Philadelphia, PA, Phoenix, AZ, San Antonio, Palo Alto, Dallas, Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, Richmond, VA, Salt Lake City, Denver, London, Dublin, Johannesburg, Brussels and many other cities and countries around the world. A2L Contact Information


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Storytelling at Trial - Will Your Story Be Used?

 

 

storytelling at trial litigation lawyersby Ryan H. Flax, Esq.
Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L Consulting

In my last post, I discussed the importance of every trial lawyer of developing a two-track procedure in every trial – one track that focuses on developing a convincing story that jurors can instinctively relate to, and one track that focuses on building a record of law and facts for a possible appeal.

The first thing that every trial lawyer must do is recognize this two-track necessity and begin to immediately develop case themes around key facts. It’s essential to work as a team to identify your story and what facts fit into it. Remember, stories are supposed to be interesting and entertaining. They have a beginning, a climax, and an ending. They have a theme, a setting, and fully developed characters. Help your case by making it understandable to the jurors and by keeping them from being bored.

Why a Good Story Matters

Litigation is not easy for anyone involved. It’s usually something of a complicated mess for us as attorneys. For jurors it’s likely the most complex, complicated, and confusing thing they’ll ever be asked to participate in. After all, think of what is being demanded of them. You’re asking them to understand an area of law that probably took you an entire law school semester to understand and to apply that law to some new and unusual facts, then to hand one side a lot of money or send someone home empty-handed. As a litigator, you have the job of making it easier for them to find things your way. 

storytelling persuasion courtroom litigation webinar  

A key component of making it easier for jurors and making them feel like they understand you and your case is storytelling. Storytelling is both an art and science, and using storytelling techniques will make you a more persuasive litigator.

A story will emerge during a trial, and it may as well be yours. Mock trials and focus groups show us that when there are camps within a jury representing the two sides of the case, each camp will have a fairly consistent story. Consistently, those stories: (a) are short; (b) fit with “common sense”; (c) borrow some of the salient facts from the trial; (d) are complete – with a start, middle and ending, including what happened and what should happen; (e) take only a few moments to tell and use plain language; and (f) once embedded, are difficult – if not impossible – to change in jurors’ minds.

The question is, where do these stories jurors use come from?

Humans automatically make stories out of virtually all life events to gain a sense of control, even if it’s a false sense. It’s the difference between collecting bare facts and interpreting them in a coherent manner. Most people can’t resist making assumptions, drawing inferences, and imposing upon the facts what they “mean” rather than merely accepting information as is. Most of what people discuss in their social lives are stories and gossip – not random facts.

So, again, because we know that your jury will be using a story to sort out your litigation facts and determine its results, whose story do you want the jurors using -- one they’ve made up, one provided by opposing counsel, or yours?

As I just said, litigation is probably the most complicated thing your jurors will ever have to be involved with in their lives, but, even setting aside the subject matter and law of the case, let’s take a look at what each juror has to do just for the jury to reach a verdict:

  • show up,
  • stay awake,
  • be motivated enough to pay attention,
  • be mentally and physically able to pay attention,
  • know what is important to attend to,
  • understand what they are seeing and hearing,
  • be motivated and able to remember,
  • recall the information after some period of time,
  • be able to repeat the information in their own words, and
  • be willing and able to convince fellow jurors who disagree with them. 

That’s just one juror’s task. Moreover, the other jurors must also be awake, pay attention, and understand, etc., so that they can operate as a unit. That’s a lot required of those doing their civic duty, so the easier you can make it for them to do the tasks you can influence, the better.
 

Other A2L Consulting resources related to storytelling in litigation:

storytelling for lawyers litigators and litigation support courtroom narrative

About A2L Consulting

•  Leading national litigation consulting firm since 1995

•  Personnel nationwide

•  Routinely voted #1 for demonstrative evidence consulting, jury consulting or intellectual property litigation consulting nationally

•  Consulted for all major law firms on 10,000+ cases with trillions of dollars cumulatively at stake offering:

Trial Consulting: mock trials, Micro-Mock™, mock Markman hearings, jury consulting, shadow juries, jury selection and more; 

Trial Graphics: legal graphics and litigation graphics, courtroom animation, video, printed foam core trial exhibits, PowerPoint presentation consulting, simplifying the case story and more; 

Trial Technology & Onsite Personnel: ebriefs (electronic briefs), hot seat operators, trial technicians, courtroom presentations and more; 

Look for A2L trial consultants, graphics consultants and jury consultants in Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD, New York, NY, Boston, MA, Alexandria, VA, Atlanta, GA, Miami, FL, Chicago, IL, Houston, Texas, Los Angeles, CA, and San Francisco, California, Wilmington, Delaware, Philadelphia, PA, Phoenix, AZ, San Antonio, Palo Alto, Dallas, Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, Richmond, VA, Salt Lake City, Denver, London, Dublin, Johannesburg, Brussels and many other cities and countries around the world. A2L Contact Information


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Planning For Courtroom Persuasion? Use a Two-Track Trial Strategy

 

 

two track litigation strategyby Ryan H. Flax, Esq.
Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L Consulting

How early in the litigation process should you think about how a jury will react to your case, your client, or you? When should you begin to develop your case themes and storylines? Which is more important to your chances of winning a trial – having a compelling story to tell, or bringing in solid evidence under the law? Here’s an easy one: When you get to the appeal, would you rather be writing the red or blue brief (hint: it’s the red one for respondents)?

What I encourage in this article will seem elementary to the best litigators, but I’m writing from experience when I say that many trial attorneys fail to properly develop the necessary two-track strategy for their case – and lose because of it.

The Two-Track Strategy

What begins at the early stages of case preparation as a single track, which includes general case building, wrapping one’s mind around the full scope of the relevant law, filling in the useful facts where they are needed and identifying the harmful facts, must quickly change to a two-track strategy directed towards both a jury presentation and a solid evidentiary record. (Although this article is focused on courtroom persuasion in jury trials, it also applies well to a bench trial to a judge, an arbitration to a panel, or a mediation before a mediator, which are all forums with an audience of human beings.)

These two tracks clearly do not occupy the same route, but both are essential to winning.

The “Law Track”

Most attorneys, especially those closer to their law school graduation than to retirement, are more familiar with one of these two tracks than the other -- the creation of a solid evidentiary record that is focused on a winning defense on appeal. We’ll call this track the “law track.” That’s because it’s the track that is most heavily burdened with law and facts, which is what we are taught in law school: we were tasked daily with reading and briefing cases and statutes and being prepared to recite legal requirements when called upon by our professors.

Most attorneys approach their cases in this same way – by identifying what the court of last resort has to say about the relevant law, i.e., what must be proved for them to win in the eyes of the court, ordinarily by fulfilling all the “prongs” of the case law. Then these attorneys slowly build up their “garden of weeds” around the case, based on these issues.

These same attorneys focus on every fact they can soak up to decide where it fits into their legal position, they build preemptive defenses relating to any “bad” facts, and they search for hidden facts to support alternative theories of their case. This is very important because it’s the foundation of any case. But it’s not the only or even most important part of building a case for trial.  Moreover, as the “garden of weeds” grows and grows as discovery develops, it’s often very difficult for even the sharpest attorneys to extricate themselves from the weeds and see the bigger picture of the case they’re about to try.

So, in addition to the “law track,” what else should a trial lawyer consider?

The Persuasion Track

The other of the two tracks, and the one that many litigators tend to overlook, is building a case to satisfy a jury (or judge in the event of a bench trial) in a “real life,” non-legal sense. I call this the “persuasion track.”

After all, trying a case in court is something like making an extended elevator pitch for your client, and you need to make sure that the jury wants to hear it and that the jurors will be affected by your pitch in the way you intend.

Often, a litigator will spend too little time, or none at all, on this courtroom persuasion track. Most litigation teams tend to wait until the last minute before trial (often in the war room outside the courthouse) to really put their story together in a way that will be persuasive to jurors.

I have found that during trials (and mock trials), juries tend to find relatively few facts very interesting and “important” and that they then base the entirety of their decisions in the jury room on those few facts. There is a well-known psychological phenomenon called confirmation bias, which is the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories.  After observing many mock trial exercises and seeing the results of dozens of jury trials, I have concluded that most juries tend to decide the outcome of a case in the first few minutes of opening statements and then use facts that fit their version of the case as reasoning in deliberations (the strongest or loudest or pushiest jurors typically triumphing in these deliberations).  Attorneys need to recognize this and to develop their trial story around the key facts onto which jurors will tend to latch.

If you don’t win at trial, you’ve got the short end of the stick when you head to post-trial arguments/motions and appeal. You must carefully develop your case along the persuasion track to plan to be successful on the second, law track.  The question now is, how is this done? That will be the subject of my next article.

*This article updates a 2012 article and lays the groundwork for a more detailed explanation of the two-track strategy in subsequent articles.

litigation consulting graphics jury trial technology

About A2L Consulting

•  Leading national litigation consulting firm since 1995

•  Personnel nationwide

•  Routinely voted #1 for demonstrative evidence consulting, jury consulting or intellectual property litigation consulting nationally

•  Consulted for all major law firms on 10,000+ cases with trillions of dollars cumulatively at stake offering:

Trial Consulting: mock trials, Micro-Mock™, mock Markman hearings, jury consulting, shadow juries, jury selection and more; 

Trial Graphics: legal graphics and litigation graphics, courtroom animation, video, printed foam core trial exhibits, PowerPoint presentation consulting, simplifying the case story and more; 

Trial Technology & Onsite Personnel: ebriefs (electronic briefs), hot seat operators, trial technicians, courtroom presentations and more; 

Look for A2L trial consultants, graphics consultants and jury consultants in Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD, New York, NY, Boston, MA, Alexandria, VA, Atlanta, GA, Miami, FL, Chicago, IL, Houston, Texas, Los Angeles, CA, and San Francisco, California, Wilmington, Delaware, Philadelphia, PA, Phoenix, AZ, San Antonio, Palo Alto, Dallas, Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, Richmond, VA, Salt Lake City, Denver, London, Dublin, Johannesburg, Brussels and many other cities and countries around the world. A2L Contact Information


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12 Ways to Eliminate "But I Need Everything On That PowerPoint Slide"

 

 

busy powerpoint slide make it fitby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

Have you ever heard any of the following during a PowerPoint presentation?

  • "It may be hard to make out the details of this slide."
  • "I'm not sure if you can read this in the back of the room."
  • "In case you can't read this, let me read it for you."
  • "I know there is a lot on this slide, but bear with me."
  • "Let me try to zoom in on this part of the slide [proceeds to fumble with remote]"
Of course you have heard these apologetic statements. If you are in the business world, you have probably heard them all. However, there is never an excuse to say these things whether in a boardroom or in a courtroom. As much as you may want everything you have to say about a key message on a single PowerPoint slide, as hard as it may be to imagine another way of doing things, I promise, you most definitely do not need everything (or even a lot) on one slide. And, you can still get your point across.

The number one video in my recent article The Top 14 TED Talks for Lawyers and Litigators 2014 as well as other articles I have written like 12 Reasons Bullet Points Are Bad and 7 Ways to Avoid Making Your PowerPoint Slides Your Handout describe methods for limiting the amount you put on your slide.
With all this said, it is important to remember that sometimes you just need everything on a slide. Sometimes it is an advantage. So, in this article, I want to offer twelve easy methods for eliminating PowerPoint slide clutter and focusing your audeince's attention on what matters - you and your message. Sometimes, albeit rarely, this means getting everything onto a single slide. More often than not, however, it means taking a single slide's complicated content and spreading it across many slides without your audience knowing you've even changed slides.
 
  1. 28 point font: My recommendation is to use no less than 28 point text, and if you do so, you will be forced to take care of most slide-clutter issues before they become problems. Most of the points below will explain how one might do this.
     
  2. One idea per slide: Another technique for eliminating slide-clutter, and a best practice generally, is to only include one idea, one takeaway, and one message per slide. Try not to focus on your total slide count as this is mostly irrelevant to the length of a presentation. Focus instead on one idea per slide or one idea per click on your remote.

    Tell the ABA you love thisLitigation Blog so it appearsin the ABA Blawg 100 for 2014


  3. Zoom with remote: Some projectors have a nice high quality zoom feature that allows you focus in on one area of a slide. IF you are very adept with this feature, IF you are in control of the projector and the technology in the room and IF you have a high-enough-resolution image, then this may be a good option, but I don't recommend it for 99% of all presenters. The resolution of your image must be high enough so that it does not pixelate when you zoom.
     
  4. Zoom box: Say you want to present something like an organizational chart with 25 elements on it. You might show the whole thing to start with, but no one can be expected to read it since the font size will be far too small. Consider starting with the whole image and then placing a zoomed-in version of portions of the chart on subsequent slides. To keep your audience oriented, use a small icon of the full image in the corner with a red box to indicate the portion you are showing.
     
  5. Sliding timelines: Very often people want to put a timeline onto a PowerPoint slide. If it has more than five items on it, it gets hard to read. One technique that we use, described in example 25 in A2L's free book, The Litigation Guide to Trial Timelines, is to create a sliding transition between time spans in the timeline. If you break your timeline up onto multiple slides it is easier to read. If you use the sliding transition, you give the impression of a larger timeline and keep your audience oriented.
     
  6. Prezi: Prezi is an alternative presentation tool to PowerPoint. It allows the presenter to create a large canvas of materials (i.e. videos, text and images) and allows the presenter to zoom into portions of the canvas. I think it is a neat program, we use it at A2L, but in the hands of an untrained user, Prezi presentations give people motion sickness. You can learn more about it and see an example in my article Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs) Explained for a Jury.
     
  7. Custom animation: Zoom effects in PowerPoint are not for beginners. PowerPoint actually makes it quite hard to zoom in on an element in a slide without it becoming pixelated. However, if you have learned how to do this, you can take something like an org chart and create animated zooms into key elements of it to make your points. Done well, the audience never loses sight of the big picture.
     
  8. Layer elements in: When it is advantageous to show many elements together on a slide, the best way to do this is to build them in over time. Showing an audience too much at once causes them to shut down. Allowing comfort with the materials to build over time is a best practice. Example #4 in The Litigation Guide to Trial Timelines illustrates this nicely.
     
  9. Zoomed-pop-in elements: Similarly, if you need to show many things on a single image, you can make them legible by introducing one element at time, zoomed in, nearly full screen. Once introduced they can reduce in size and be placed where important. For example, in an org charge, each box could start full-screen sized and then shrink while moving into place on the chart.
     
  10. Hyperlinked elements: When you are not sure what order you have to show materials in, you can use PowerPoint's hyperlinking function to pop-up an object so that it is legible. For example, if you are showing an org chart, you could create a hotspot on each position that when clicked would zoom open a larger version of the box. Example #7 in How To Use and Design Trial Timelines shows how this is achieved.
     
  11. Printed materials: Very often, it just makes no sense to show something in PowerPoint. Printed documents have better resolution than a screen and offer a range of other advantages when handed out. See also 7 Ways to Avoid Making Your PowerPoint Slides Your Handout.
     
  12. Exception: Sometimes you want to show how hopelessly confusing something is to gain an advantage. This is the only exception to the rules articulated above. For example, if you want to show that a process was nearly impossible to follow, PowerPoint may be ideal since you can build elements of the process over time until it becomes impossible to follow.
In subsequent posts, I am going to take these topics and show how to handle each of them. In the meantime, here are some articles and resources that discuss eliminating slide clutter, best practices for using PowerPoint and how to present well in general:
 
litigation consulting graphics jury trial technology

About A2L Consulting

•  Leading national litigation consulting firm since 1995

•  Personnel nationwide

•  Routinely voted #1 for demonstrative evidence consulting, jury consulting or intellectual property litigation consulting nationally

•  Consulted for all major law firms on 10,000+ cases with trillions of dollars cumulatively at stake offering:

Trial Consulting: mock trials, Micro-Mock™, mock Markman hearings, jury consulting, shadow juries, jury selection and more; 

Trial Graphics: legal graphics and litigation graphics, courtroom animation, video, printed foam core trial exhibits, PowerPoint presentation consulting, simplifying the case story and more; 

Trial Technology & Onsite Personnel: ebriefs (electronic briefs), hot seat operators, trial technicians, courtroom presentations and more; 

Look for A2L trial consultants, graphics consultants and jury consultants in Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD, New York, NY, Boston, MA, Alexandria, VA, Atlanta, GA, Miami, FL, Chicago, IL, Houston, Texas, Los Angeles, CA, and San Francisco, California, Wilmington, Delaware, Philadelphia, PA, Phoenix, AZ, San Antonio, Palo Alto, Dallas, Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, Richmond, VA, Salt Lake City, Denver, London, Dublin, Johannesburg, Brussels and many other cities and countries around the world. A2L Contact Information


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