I've always been a creative type. In fact, it was my creativity 25 years ago that caused me to learn 3-D animation during law school and ultimately go on to launch A2L Consulting.
In the 25 years since then, I've worked on thousands of cases advising trial teams and leading a team of people who advise top trial lawyers on conducting voir dire, running mock trials, managing complex trial technology, and my personal favorite, developing litigation graphics to simplify, explain, and persuade in complex cases.
Focusing in on this creative side of the business, litigation graphics development, I have seen two types of trial teams interact with creative teams -- those that have the knack and are successful working with creative people and those that are not.
The impact of these interactions turns out to be very significant. Cases have been won and lost because of a trial team's ability to interact well with a creative team. Like anything, it is a skill that can (and should) be learned.
Over the past several decades, I've received feedback from hundreds of trial teams and I've seen feedback delivered to others by thousands more. Below are fourteen things to know about delivering feedback to the creative team.
- When creative people create, they offer a piece of themselves up for criticism. Deliver your feedback with this in mind, and you'll be ahead of your peers.
- If you're a shouter, find someone else to work with the creative team.
- Say what you mean. It's incredibly important that you be honest about what you like and what you do not. Holding in your criticism in an effort to be kind is not the goal. The goal is to deliver feedback in a productive way.
- Find the good and talk about it first. This one is a classic and is what is taught in art school. Simply, find something positive to say and then talk about what you do not like.
- Early feedback is the most important. If something feels “off” or wrong for the situation, don’t hesitate to give your feedback speedily.
- If you find yourself reading this list muttering something about sensitive snowflakes, you're not the best person to be working with creative people. Ask a colleague to be the messenger.
- If you don't know how to describe what you like, find points of comparison. There are many places to look including places like the national news, online libraries of stock photos, and design blogs. Of course, some of the best places to look for examples are our ebooks, webinars, and blog with resources like:
- 16 PowerPoint Litigation Graphics You Won't Believe Are PowerPoint
- 5 Trial Graphics That Work Every Time
- Environmental Litigation and PowerPoint
- Antitrust Litigation Graphics: Monopoly Power and Price Fixing
- 5 Demonstrative Evidence Tricks and Cheats to Watch Out For
- 3 Styles of Document Call-outs Used at Trial
- Explaining a Complicated Process Using Trial Graphics
- 6 Ways to Convey Size and Scale to a Jury
- Teaching Science to a Jury: A Trial Consulting Challenge
- Perfecting the Patent Tutorial for Your Judge
- It's okay to say, I'll know it when I see it and ask for 3-5 options. Many people work this way.
- Enumerate your feedback. You can help organize the creative mind by enumerating your feedback.
- Don't overlap feedback with other members of the trial team. That is, when one person has offered feedback, it is ideal, to wait for the updated work before offering another round of feedback.
- The creative process is not a straight line. It's okay to take two steps forward and one step back.
- Give it time. Rushed creativity is all too often bad creativity. If you cause your creative team to shut down by pressing, you'll likely not get them back and wonder where the creativity went.
- Consider filtering all feedback through a single person. It saves time, money, and frustration.
- Even though the picture in the article might suggest otherwise, please don't touch the artist's screen.