Trial teams frequently wrestle with questions surrounding how simple a trial presentation should be. It’s a good thing to worry about. They worry about coming off as condescending. They worry about the story being impossible to simplify. They worry about what order to tell the story in.
These are all understandable questions to wrestle with. Unfortunately, on the question of how simple a case should be made, I think most trial teams end up talking themselves out of the right answer.
So here’s the answer in five parts. A trial presentation should be so simple that:
- The level of simplicity makes you cringe a little because it feels a bit oversimplified.
- The level of simplicity also feels a little bit brilliant to you in its design and its elegance.
- You should be able to explain any case clearly in less than an hour.
- Every PowerPoint slide should make sense on its own with at most the slightest explanation and ideally no explanation.
- Every member of the audience should care about the whole presentation.
Like the creative process, most of this is subjective. Each of these guidelines has an “I’ll know it when I see it” quality.
It’s often been said that a camel is a horse designed by a committee. Good design is rarely accomplished by a group, and a trial presentation is no exception. In fact, when a group tries to agree on a trial presentation it will rarely get simplified enough. There’s something about the dynamic that seems to discourage simplicity in design.
So I recommend leaning heavily on your trial presentation experts and asking them to make the case make sense to anyone, following the five rules in this article. You’ll end up ahead of your opponent most of the time, and your factfinders will reward you for making their lives easier.
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