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The Litigation Consulting Report

Why Lawyers and Litigation Graphic Artists Need to Work Together

Posted by Tony Klapper on Tue, Nov 1, 2016 @ 11:06 AM

lawyers_artists_working_together.jpgby Tony Klapper
Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L Consulting

At A2L, we strongly believe that strong visual presentations are indispensable to courtroom success. But great visuals don’t just create themselves. Top-notch litigation graphic artists are the ones who make unforgettable visuals, and that means that graphic artists need to be a crucial part of any trial team.

And good graphic artists aren’t easy to find. As a graphic design website explains, a great graphic designer should “love art in all its forms” and “should live to create and to be inventive.” A graphic artist needs to understand color, composition, typefaces and dozens of other design elements and to use the best digital tools available.

All that means that trial lawyers need to learn how to work seamlessly with graphic artists. This isn’t necessarily so straightforward; after all, trial lawyers and artists are literally using different parts of their brain to approach a problem. Lawyers are classic left-brain people. The left hemisphere of the brain is dominant in language processing, logic, mathematical computations and memory. The right hemisphere, on the other hand, oversees spatial abilities, visual imagery, and the interpretation of context and tone. Those right-brain aspects reflect the skills and strengths of a graphic artist.

Together, the left-brain skills of the attorney and the right-brain skills of the graphic artist should produce great results – if they can work together. The trial consultant on the team ideally has a foot in both worlds, understanding the importance of precision and logic as well as the need for clarity and beauty. The trial consultant can “translate” between the lawyer’s language and the artist’s language and maximize the contributions of each one. It’s a role of the trial consultant that isn’t often noted but one that can be crucial in building the necessary collaborative spirit.

It would therefore be a shame if, as some trial teams do, the lawyers were to belittle the contributions of the graphic artist and just have him put into graphic form the lawyers’ idea of what the trial visuals should look like. Instead, an excellent graphic artist, such as those who work for A2L, should have the authority to suggest what the visual presentations should be like at trial. Empowering the graphic artist in this way not only adds a new “set of eyes” but also adds a whole new way of thinking.

As is almost always the case, the best results in litigation graphics aren’t just the work of one person. They grow out of collaboration, not dictation. One of the best things about working with a company like ours is that we know how to meld the disparate approaches of different human beings to create a great result.

Other A2L resources discussing how trial lawyers and litigation graphics professionals can work best together to win cases:

powerpoint litigation graphics consultants

Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Consultants, Litigation Graphics, Litigation Consulting, Trial Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Presentation Graphics, Advocacy Graphics, Persuasive Graphics

Visual Metaphors, Analogies & Persuasion: Convince to Win

Posted by Jeanne Cannarozzi on Wed, Oct 12, 2016 @ 02:08 PM

metaphor-analogy-lawyers-courtroom-elephant-room.jpgby Jeanne Cannarozzi
Business Development Manager
A2L Consulting

Trial teams often struggle to find just the right analogy or metaphor to help convince a jury. As persuasion consultants, our role is very often that of finding options for analogies or metaphors for a trial team to consider. It's one of those times when our office looks a lot like an advertising agency with a group trying to brainstorm. I want to share some resources used by our team in coming up with good techniques for trial teams to use.

Aristotle posits that analogies "give names to nameless things.” Cognitive science has proved that humans process new, unfamiliar concepts and understand them by comparing them to familiar concepts and experiences. The concepts of “analogical reasoning” and “analogical transfer” as described by Dr. Dedre Gentner and her co-authors [PDF], and many other researchers in the field of cognitive science, have helped us understand that human cognition is inherently metaphorical.

In the same fashion, analogies are used to convince the judge or audience by presenting similarities between two things that are otherwise not alike. The use of full case-based analogies involves more criteria than does the use of metaphors, such as the jurisdiction, the number of relevant cases that speak to the issues, and the facts and relevant laws.

A visual case-based analogy can be very effective and even crucial in science-based cases by demonstrating the connection between the present case and a favorable outcome in a prior case -- most persuasively from the same jurisdiction as the present case. You can think of the connection itself in this type of analogy as a definitive road map with a very direct route, no detours and a known destination. 

Metaphors are used to show a hidden or implied connection of two different things, ideas, or activities by symbolically representing the similarities and relationships between them. There is an inherent creative freedom in the use of metaphors because there are many ideas, behaviors, images, and expressions that have a universal meaning. Litigators can introduce metaphors to make comparisons and to point out subtle similarities between the present case and a previous case.

We have used each these techniques in litigation frequently and have written some useful articles in the past about each. 

  • Visual metaphors: In this article, Courtroom Exhibits: Analogies and Metaphors as Persuasion Devices, we write about this powerful tool. In general, these tools are very persuasive as they connect something that people already understand to something complicated about the case before them. Unlike a verbal metaphor, a visual metaphor is harder to split.
  • Analogies and Metaphors: We've created lists of lists of analogies, metaphors and idioms that help us and the lawyers we work with to find just the right tool for a particular case. In this article, Lists of Analogies, Metaphors and Idioms for Lawyers, we list some of those.

Other free articles from A2L Consulting discussing how to convey complex concepts, use litigation graphics to persuade, and influencing decisionmaking with pictures:

mock jury webinar a2l kuslansky  

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Courtroom Presentations, Demonstrative Evidence, Presentation Graphics, Persuasive Graphics, Visual Persuasion, Persuasion

Should You Read Documents Out Loud at Trial?

Posted by Ken Lopez on Mon, Oct 10, 2016 @ 01:58 PM

reading-documents-call-out-trial-style.jpgby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

I’ve seen a great many lawyers read documents aloud at trials, and, not coincidentally, I’ve seen lawyers lose cases in part because they did so. Both experience and the science of persuasion tell us that reading documents to a jury is a persuasion killer. But of course there are times when you absolutely need to read a document out loud. This article will help you find the best ways to do so when it is necessary.

There are at least five good reasons why reading documents out loud is harmful. I will go through them, then offer three guidelines for reading passages of text to a jury or judge when it is necessary. After all, it’s hard to imagine trying a contract case without reading the key provisions of the contract.

  1. The split-attention effect/redundancy effect is easy to recognize, and we've all experienced it. In summary, if you are presented with a written document and it is read to you at the same time, your brain will have a hard time sorting out whether to read or to listen. What you might not know is that you actually end up far worse off reading written materials while seeing an image of those materials than you would have if you had just done one or the other -- read the materials or listened to the words. See The Redundancy Effect, PowerPoint and Legal Graphics.

  2. Related closely to the split attention the fact is the fact that people read faster than you speak. So if you present both formats, whether you know it or not, you have just started a little competition with your audience. They try to read faster than you. See 
    Why Reading Your Litigation PowerPoint Slides Hurts Jurors.
  1. People have written books about why this is a bad practice. Just read Cliff Atkinson’s Beyond Bullet Points, www.beyondbulletpoints.com.
  1. There's more science about this than you probably think. Chris Atherton's work is superb on this topic, and here's a video about it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwOuVc1Qrlg
  1. If you read out loud to people, you'll probably bore them. See Could Surprise Be One of Your Best Visual Persuasion Tools?

So, now that you have an idea about why reading documents is bad, how do we deal with the fact that some documents just need to be read? To deal with that, you will likely have to embrace new habits and learn new skills.

First, assuming that you are presenting from Trial Director or PowerPoint, you're going to need to learn when and how to turn off the projector. In PowerPoint you do this by pressing the bulb symbol, which toggles the screen to and from a black screen. In Trial Director, assuming that you are making appropriate use of a trial technician’s experience and professionalism by having a technician run the equipment in the courtroom, just say, “Dim the screen please.” When you do this, the jury should stare at you and pay close attention.

Second, you should choose passages of text to read that are as short as possible. I recommend never reading more than a sentence or two.

Third, try to become comfortable with pausing and giving people a chance to read. Look at the document yourself and read along quietly in your head. You'll get a feeling for how long people need, and you will keep the factfinders engaged. If you now want to highlight some key language, highlight it and ask the jury to focus on that piece again, then pause again. Then dim the screen, briefly reread it and then explain why it's important. Scientifically, this is your single best approach to maximize persuasion. I acknowledge it feels different and tedious, but so once did washing your hands before surgery.

Other articles from A2L Consulting discussing presenting orally and with documents, the redundancy effect, and using science to persuade:

complex civil litigation ebook free

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Demonstrative Evidence, Presentation Graphics, Psychology, Redundancy Effect, Document Call-Outs

How Many PowerPoint Slides Should You Use in a Typical Trial?

Posted by Ken Lopez on Mon, Sep 26, 2016 @ 01:45 PM

how-many-powerpoint-slides-too-many.jpgby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

How many slides should a world-class trial lawyer or trial presentation consultant create for use in a typical trial? That’s an interesting question that I hadn’t thought of until recently, when I had a fascinating debate with some litigators about this topic. One took the view that a trial with twice as many issues should require twice as many slides, even if the two trials are of equal length. I disagreed, and I think these litigators found my position confusing at first.

I told them that the presumption for any trial team should be to use as few slides as possible to make a point. More slides just create more complexity. And that inhibits persuasion.

There's a famous quote that has been attributed to many people, but it is correctly attributed to French mathematician Blaise Pascal: “I would have written a shorter letter if I had more time.” I think this sums up in many ways the goals of effective trial presentation. If you find yourself going to trial with 500 slides that you plan to use in a five-day trial, you are probably overdoing it. But people do that all the time.

I wrote about this topic in an article discussing how the PowerPoint slides that you do use are informed by the ones you don't. I think of it like a sculptor and Michelangelo’s famous saying how he could see the finished piece in the block of stone, he just needed to chip away the extraneous stones.

I do think trial presentation should work something like that. That's why it takes a long time to make a good presentation and why you should not find yourself at the end of the trial apologizing for not having written that shorter letter.

Here are a handful of best practices for any PowerPoint slide presentation with additional reading incorporated throughout:

  • Don't use bullet points. I've said this so many times that I'm nervous about over-repeating this stance. It's not the bullets that are bad, of course. It's that when you use them, you tend to commit all of of the PowerPoint slide sins that measurably and are scientifically known to diminish persuasion.

Other A2L articles related to using PowerPoint slides well in or out of the courtroom include:

Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Consultants, Litigation Graphics, Mock Trial, Trial Consulting, Presentation Graphics, Advocacy Graphics, PowerPoint, Persuasive Graphics

12 Things About PowerPoint You Probably Never Knew

Posted by Alex Brown on Thu, Jun 9, 2016 @ 11:47 AM


PowerPoint tips tricks lawyers opening statementsby Alex Brown
Director of Operations
A2L Consulting

The definition of power is the capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events. Graphic artists of all shapes and sizes, once they fully delve into using the Microsoft PowerPoint tool, usually end up surprised by the power inherent in PowerPoint.

When you hear people say they hate PowerPoint presentations, they usually use excuses like; “It’s too wordy, excessive effects, it puts me to sleep, Group read along, Rorschach effect, frivolous fonts, and BULLET POINTS!”

The truth is they are correct. PowerPoint is not always used to create litigation graphics to the best effect. But that doesn’t mean you should blame the tool. Here are 12 tips and features of PowerPoint that will excite and enlighten even the most creative thinker.

  1. Narrate over slides. This is especially effective when you need to create a technology tutorial or explain otherwise complicated material. We have done this for many a client using professional narrators and always with the desired effect. The audience is engaged and understanding the message as they should.

  2. Pan and zoom. Images can do more than just appear on the screen. You can create movement to keep your audience focused on what you want them to focus on. This is effective when you have a lot of images that you want to share, but in the end, you want them to focus on a specific one. You can use the zoom feature to focus them and then you can add callouts so they understand what they are seeing and what you want them to remember.

  3. Embed a functioning Excel worksheet. Suppose that your damages expert has made some brilliant worksheets. Embed them into your deck. There’s no reason to use paper handouts or to switch from one program to another. You can also manipulate the worksheet so they focus on the numbers that are key.

  4. Pop-up/call out Instead of having a slide appear completely filled with text, have it appear when needed and be replaced as you move down your key points. This is effective because you allow your audience’s eyes to focus on specific things and keep them engaged. Science dictates that they will retain more information this way.

  5. Charts. They can be used effectively to show how things relate to each other, such as a timeline, organizational chart, flow chart, or process diagram. Lawyers often are afraid to use charts because they fear that the audience will get ahead of the message. This is true in many cases, which is why you want them to build up slowly, not just sit on the screen as a static image.

    powerpoint litigation graphics consultants

  6. Pictogram or infographic images. What is expected from a trial team changes almost monthly. Today, infographics are huge, and the icons, images, and feel of infographics are comfortable and accepted. Use today’s marketing messaging to your advantage so your audience receives the message and retains the information.

  7. Highlight text to draw attention. Use a call-out to highlight a quote or a section of a contract. You want the audience to get the feel of what is being highlighted but you also want them to remember a few impact words. We all remember the old videos with the “follow the bouncing ball.” Take advantage of that familiarity and highlight the text at the moment you want them to focus on that impact word. It can be a very powerful way to get a message across to your audience.

  8. Illuminate, glow, or change the color of the text to draw attention. Like highlighting, you can also be subtle and use these options to almost subconsciously get them to remember impact words during deliberation.

  9. Embed videos. Today, your audience expects you to show them something that will wow them. If you don’t, you run the risk of disappointing them or even making them feel as if you were simply not trying hard enough. You want to keep their attention; what better way to grab it then to add video to your deck. You no longer need to bring up a different program or use a machine to play video. On a click, you can show them exactly what you want, highlight things throughout, create pop-ups or call-outs around it. This is very powerful and something we have been doing for years. See, 16 PowerPoint Litigation Graphics You Won't Believe Are PowerPoint.

  10. Animations. Many people fear animations, and they should. The courtroom is not a good place for flashing, spinning, exploding transitions. Animations are incorporated, however, in all of our decks, used sometimes without detection. The best effects are the ones that draw attention to the message, not the transition.

  11. Create custom bullets. Bullet points kill your presentation, period. But we still use lists, just in a way that does not make it LOOK like a bullet list. Create icons instead of black or colored dots. Don’t use them at the beginning, but add check marks at the end. This changes the feel and increases impact.

  12. Use 3D effects. This goes right back to what the audience expects. If you need to use a 3D image, use it. We have done this for impact and retention for years. You do not need to always use a 3D program to do it. We have used movement to backgrounds to simulate depth and perspective. All in PowerPoint. See, 16 PowerPoint Litigation Graphics You Won't Believe Are PowerPoint.

It is not your job to learn different litigation graphics packages to entertain your audience. It is your job to keep your audience engaged by employing these and hundreds of other persuasion tools so they learn and retain the information needed to achieve success when the verdict is handed down.

using litigation graphics courtroom to persuade trial graphics a2l consulting

Other articles and resources related to the use of PowerPoint at trial, litigation graphics and PowerPoint trial graphics generally:

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Animation, Presentation Graphics, Advocacy Graphics, PowerPoint, Persuasive Graphics, Visual Persuasion, Infographics

5 Things TED Talks Can Teach Us About Opening Statements

Posted by Ken Lopez on Wed, Mar 23, 2016 @ 11:20 AM


TED Talks lawyers opening statements persuasionby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

Last week, I wrote about a new book that proposes a variety of life, body, and brain hacks to make us more persuasive. That book is written by Amy Cuddy, one of the top TED speakers of all time. I think the lessons she teaches are incredibly valuable for litigators looking to maximize persuasiveness during their opening statements.

So, you might ask, what makes a good TED Talk a great one? After all, some TED Talks have tens of millions of views, while others on equally interesting topics have far fewer views. I am a big fan of TED Talks, and I have highlighted some aspects of them in previous articles such as The Top 10 TED Talks for Lawyers, Litigators and Litigation Support and The Top 14 TED Talks for Lawyers and Litigators 2014.

If you happen not to know what TED Talks are, they are simply short talks, generally combined with some visual support, that are sponsored by TED, a nonprofit foundation. TED Talks have become the gold standard for thoughtful, innovative presentations to lay people in many areas of endeavor.

Last year, Vanessa Van Edwards, an expert on presentations and on human behavior, studied what makes a great TED Talk, and the results are a mix of fascinating and frightening for most people. I say frightening since many of these results fly in the face of the conventional wisdom.

Of course, as someone who lives and breathes trial presentations, I have a bit of an agenda here. I think that each of the lessons that Van Edwards gleaned from the elements of a great TED Talk are perfectly analogous to great lessons for how lawyers should make an opening statement. So, here are her five key findings:

  1. The speakers’ nonverbal body language is as important as what the speakers said. This finding is quite consistent with what Amy Cuddy found in her studies. Here however, study participants ranked speakers exactly the same whether the audio was turned on or not. That's right, what people said, did not particularly influence how much a speaker was liked. Remember a key difference here between a TED Talk and an opening statement. Jurors are asked specifically to make a decision about the facts and law - not only about whose message, style, and charisma they like best.

  2. The more hand gestures used, the more the speaker was liked. Specifically, lower ranked TED Talks had an average of 124,000 views and those speakers used an average of 272 hand gestures during an 18-minute presentation. Top TED presenters had an average of 7,360,000 views and used an average of 465 hand gestures. These first two findings point to a clear need to gesture more – but as Amy Cuddy tells us, it has to be authentic. This is no easy task, and practice is the only way to train yourself to be truly authentic. See, Practice, Say Jury Consultants, is Why Movie Lawyers Perform So Well and 3 Ways to Force Yourself to Practice Your Trial Presentation

  3. Vocal variety generates higher charisma and credibility ratings. Speakers who appeared to speak from a script were disfavored, while those who changed pitch, altered pacing, and varied volume were rated much higher than those who did not.

  4. Smiling gets more likes. The more someone smiles in a TED context, the better they are received as a speaker. Does this translate to an opening statement? I’m not so sure. It would really depend on the subject matter I would think. After all, smiling during the recitation of a terrible fact pattern certainly will not be rewarded. However, on balance, where there is opportunity to do so, smiling will add to likeability. See also, Like It or Not: Likability Counts for Credibility in the Courtroom.

  5. Your first seven seconds determine how the rest of your message is received. Clearly, this is true during opening statement or even during voir dire. You will be judged by your opening line, how you deliver it, and your appearance. That snap judgment will likely color the impression of your message for the reminder of the case.

 Here's a great video from the study's author that adds color to this topic. 

Additional articles and resources from A2L Consulting about opening statements, persuasion, practice, and whether being liked by your jury really matters:

opening statements toolkit ebook download a2l

Tags: Trial Presentation, Courtroom Presentations, Presentation Graphics, Psychology, Persuasive Graphics, Visual Persuasion, Opening, Persuasion

3 Observations by a Graphic Artist Turned Litigation Graphics Artist

Posted by Maureen Vogel on Tue, Dec 22, 2015 @ 10:30 AM

graphic design litigation artistby Maureen Vogel
Litigation Graphics Artist
A2L Consulting

Before becoming an artist here at A2L Consulting, I was what you might call a typical graphic designer. I specialized in creating visual art, primarily for nonprofit organizations in the Washington, DC area. My primary focus was usually to visually convey a single important message with each graphic. I’d never concerned myself personally or professionally with the world of litigation.

When I was a graphic designer, the software platforms Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign were my standard canvas. However, as a litigation graphics artist, I usually stick to PowerPoint as the fundamental visual presentation tool. Although graphics may often incorporate visual concepts developed outside the PowerPoint platform, this is the foundation for presentation, and much of my artwork is now done in PowerPoint itself (and sometimes in Keynote for Apple devices). PowerPoint is a surprisingly powerful tool. In addition, I have noticed that there are quite a few differences between graphic design and litigation graphics art.

Here are some of the differences I have observed that I find most interesting.

1. Color psychology is very important in litigation-focused graphics.

litigation-graphics-pyschology-color-meaning.jpgYes, color psychology is important in the graphic design realm as well. But in litigation graphics, using the wrong colors in court could offend your audience or negatively affect their mood. That would be a catastrophe.

One example I’ve encountered at work was when the client asked me to change a list of people’s names on a PowerPoint slide from black to red. Red is a color we generally try to avoid in PowerPoint slides because it can increase aggressive feelings in audience members (jurors). Also, I had my own personal aversion to red; depending on the culture, the color red can also invoke very different emotions. For example, in Japan, my home country, writing a person’s name in red means that person will die soon. This would accordingly evoke a very specific emotion in the wrong audience. Because the client’s goal in changing the black font to red was simply to make it more visible and not necessarily to invoke feelings of alarm or aggression toward the people listed, we suggested a brighter blue font instead of red. Almost any color you can think of invokes a specific emotional response, so plan accordingly for your litigation graphics.

A2L is looking for talented graphic designers! Read more here.

2. Litigation design tends to have uncertain or very tight deadlines

deadlines-trial-graphics-litigation.gifWhen I was a graphic designer and did freelance graphic design work, I usually had a good idea of when the project needed to be done. This is not the case with litigation graphics. But perhaps it should be.

As a litigation graphic artist, I sometimes feel like a doctor on call. Trial dates can be changed at any time, and projects that were once due in a week can all of a sudden be due much sooner.

If you want your litigation graphic artist to create very persuasive demonstratives, make sure to devote enough time to brainstorm what graphics are needed to support your client’s story and also give the artist ample time to complete the work. This seems simple enough, but I see that that trial teams more often than not wait until what seems like the last minute to begin to develop the visual component of their trial presentation. From working with A2L, I know that this does not fit with the best practices. I suggest that trial teams begin thinking about how they’ll present their cases to a jury (or judge) many months in advance of actually needing to do so. This gives them enough time to plan for the arguments and to have a professional team craft winning graphics to go with those arguments.

3. Creativity is often influenced by the judge

demonstrative-evidence-consultant.jpgAs a graphic designer, my task was to portray information in the most creative way possible. Litigation design, on the other hand, usually isn’t a contest to see how artistic you can be (it helps, but that’s not the main focus). The judge often will determine the level of creativity required or allowed for courtroom graphics.

Before clients hire us, they typically need to get permission from the judge for the types of demonstratives allowed at trial (e.g., PowerPoint, posters, videos, etc.). Once the types of demonstratives are decided upon, we begin creating graphics accordingly. Sometimes a set of visually pleasing graphics that we’ve created need to be reduced to what one might call “bland” visuals because according to the client, “the judge is very conservative.

For those who believe they will be shot down for being too creative, consider that sometimes an element of surprise is a good thing. Creativity can be conservative, and higher style can be more engaging to even the most conservative of audiences. Words don’t persuade; arguments do. I suggest crafting visuals that convey ideas and emotions rather than pure language – asking an audience, be it a judge or juror, to remember words and more words is not engaging.

Overall, there are quite a few differences between graphic art and litigation-focused graphic art; however, in the end, they both require knowledge of the foundations of art and design – which are concepts appreciated by any audience.

A2L is looking for talented graphic designers! Read more here.

A2L Consulting articles focused on demonstrative evidence, trial graphics, and litigation graphics consulting:

using litigation graphics courtroom to persuade trial graphics a2l consulting

 

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Demonstrative Evidence, Presentation Graphics, Advocacy Graphics, PowerPoint, Persuasive Graphics, Infographics, Information Design

5 Trial Graphics That Work Every Time

Posted by Laurie Kuslansky on Wed, Dec 16, 2015 @ 02:14 PM

five-trial-graphics-that-always-work-at-trialby Laurie R. Kuslansky, Ph.D.
Managing Director, Jury Consulting
A2L Consulting

        and

Kenneth J. Lopez, J.D.
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

Having conducted hundreds of mock trials and observed and polled jurors in hundreds of actual trials, we see the jurors asking the same questions over and over again – questions that the trial presentation should have answered.

In view of that, here are five different subjects for trial graphics that are almost sure to answer some jurors' question in every case. They are so standard as scene-setters that they almost always have a place in a trial. Without them, triers of fact often feel as if they have come in after the movie started and that they can't rewind to get the answers. 

These five trial graphics fill in important blanks, prevent confusion, and create the foundation to tell your story, your way. Imagine the difference between being introduced to someone merely by name (“This is John Doe”), to whom you nod politely, but in whom you are unlikely to take interest -- and being introduced more fully (“This is Professor John Doe, who is in charge of research on meteors at M.I.T.”), whom you now likely have greater interest to get to know.

1.  An organizational trial graphic or players chart showing the major players, their relationships, and their role in the case as you see them.

players chart trial graphic

A players chart answers questions like:

Who initiated the relationship?

What did each need or bring to it? Why?

Who is in charge?

Who did what?

Who knows whom?

What are the coalitions and who are adversaries?

Who was a good or bad actor?

A2L is hiring! Know a talented presentation designer for our DC headquarters?


2.  A chronology and timeline of key events that shows what happened in what sequence, which leads to conclusions about cause and effect.

timeline trial graphic

A timeline or chronology answers questions like:

When did the relationship start?

What happened during the "courtship" and "honeymoon" periods?

When did things go wrong?

When did the deterioration start?

What happened just before or after it?

When did the relationship end?

How did each side react?

 

3.  What each gained or lost from the events in the case. This shows motive or the lack of it, equity, value and other important points.

elements of crime trial graphic


A gain/loss, events, or elements trial graphic answers questions like:

What did each put in or take out of the situation?

What was their value?

Does it seem fair and balanced or not?

 

4.  How the damages do or do not add up in a way that jurors can follow along by themselves, simply.

damages-trial-graphic.jpg

If lay jurors cannot “do the math” in their own terms, it’s hard to convince them to award or mitigate damages. They can't fight opposing views just by taking your word for it or decide the battle of the experts in the experts' terms.

 

5.  Who is...?

expert cv resume trial graphic

Charts that show the identity of the litigants or key players and play up or down their history, size, wealth or function can make or break how triers of fact view them, blame or credit them, determine who is the victim, apportion fault and damages, decide credibility and reach other important conclusions about liability and damages. Are they so rich that damages won't affect them?  Are they so experienced that they should have known better?  Are they so well credentialed, that you should believe them, even if you don't quite understand them?

Without answering these essential who/what/where/when/why questions that accompany any case, you may not be able to satisfy the triers of fact when it comes to the more challenging questions of the case at hand. Instead of depriving them of this important information, make it handy.

Other articles and resources related to using a trial graphic, litigation graphics, demonstrative evidence, and winning using these tools:

powerpoint litigation graphics consultants

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Litigation Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Presentation Graphics, Advocacy Graphics, Timelines

Lawyer Delivers Excellent PowerPoint Presentation

Posted by Ken Lopez on Tue, Nov 10, 2015 @ 02:42 PM


ted talk lawyers lawrence lessig presentation style litigation graphicsby Ken Lopez

Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

The title of this article shouldn't sound like a breaking news headline, but let's be honest, it does. Most PowerPoint presentations are bullet-point-riddled text-heavy electronic projections of a speaker's notes. Most lawyer-delivered PowerPoint presentations are the same — just with even more text and smaller fonts.

As a result, a significant majority of speakers (and lawyers) using PowerPoint presentations are hard to understand and dramatically less persuasive than they could be. There are exceptions of course.

The kinds of litigators and others who become clients of A2L Consulting's litigation graphics division are the first exceptions. They typically learn the rules of effective presentation and high-level visual persuasion based on well-established neuroscience principles and rigorous psychological studies.

The second exception is Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard law professor.

I had the pleasure of seeing him deliver a presentation at TEDx MidAtlantic recently. Whether or not one agrees with his message, almost everyone can learn a lot from his presentation style and the methods he used to achieve visual persuasion. Here is a video of that presentation:

Professor Lessig did so many things correctly in this presentation that it is worthy of study by litigators and presenters alike. I'm not going to suggest that this is a perfect presentation for a courtroom environment, but it is a very good model for a situation where you want to persuade an audience to act or see things your way. Still, there are important lessons for the courtroom here.

Understand that when I say this is "a very good model" that I'm not simply giving my opinion (even if it is based on 20+ years of helping litigators win cases using visual persuasion techniques). Rather, this assertion is based on the latest science about what persuades people.

In contrast to my articles pointing out what can go wrong like The 12 Worst PowerPoint Mistakes Litigators MakeThe 14 Most Preventable Trial Preparation Mistakes and 6 Trial Presentation Errors Lawyers Can Easily Avoid, here is a time-coded list of seventeen things I see that Professor Lessig did exceptionally well.

  1. 00:22: Attention Grabbing Words: His first few sentences use words designed to get you interested. When we hear "protest," "Hong Kong," and "China," most people are going to take notice given the historical inconsistency between these terms.

  2. 00:32: Use of Video: Showing moving pictures is more captivating than a still image, and starting off with video serves to draw the audience in emotionally from the very beginning. The fact that this is a protest by children further serves to drawn in the audience emotionally.

  3. 00:55: Text Highlighting. It is generally a bad idea to read what is on screen. Notice how you don't really understand what he is reading while you're looking at it. That's because of the split attention effect. When he takes away the unnecessary words, you see exactly what he wants you to remember. That is a good method of highlighting your key message.

  4. 1:05: Pace Change: He begins his presentation slowly to draw in the audience in the first 30 seconds and now changes his pace to start to make his case. Changing the pace of one's speech is excellent for keeping interest. You'll notice he slows down at the end as well. In fact, he slows down whenever he wants to make an emotional point and make it stick
    storytelling for judge jury courtroom best method for trial persuasion and emotion
  5. 1:07: Clear and Easy-to-Understand Persuasive Graphics: The imagery is simple and supports a simple point. There are two steps, and a small group stands in the middle to act as a filter. He uses a nice clear graphic to describe gerrymandering at 13:51 as well. Litigation graphics do not have to be complex to be effective. See Litigation Graphics: It's Not a Beauty Contest and 16 PowerPoint Litigation Graphics You Won't Believe Are PowerPoint.

  6. 1:20: Proper Font Size: Except here for making a point, Professor Lessig rarely gets below 28 point font size. See 12 Ways to Eliminate "But I Need Everything On That PowerPoint Slide."

  7. 1:28: Use of Information Design Principles: I wrote about the use of dots to represent small numbers in Securities Litigation Graphics and Juror Communication, and it is a useful technique, especially when combined with a more literal explanation and an oral explanation.

  8. 2:35: Appropriate Use of Humor: He works in a House of Cards reference without ever saying a thing and draws a big laugh. Humor certainly does not always work in the courtroom, but in this environment, it is entirely appropriate.

  9. 4:09: Analogy: Notice how Professor Lessig connects the concepts of China, Tweeds, Whites, Funders and more using the same text graphic and changing one word to carry through an analogy. He does this again at 7:50 when flipping between the America and China slides. See Courtroom Exhibits: Analogies and Metaphors as Persuasion Devices and Lists of Analogies, Metaphors and Idioms for Lawyers.

  10. 6:42: Nod to Steve Jobs: From the background used to the font size to the black mock turtleneck to the style of presentation generally, Professor Lessig is clearly a student of the extremely effective Steve Jobs-style presentation technique. See the 4th video in my article 12 Reasons Bullet Points Are Bad (in Trial Graphics or Anywhere), and you'll see exactly what I mean.

  11. 8:15: Immersive Graphics Presentation Style: We've written about the Broda-Bahm study demonstrating that the use of an immersive style (frequently changing and persistently used) of presentation has been shown to have the most persuasive effect on jurors. Professor Lessig uses this technique better than just about every lawyer that I've seen present.

  12. 11:42 and Throughout: Repetition: His use of visual repetition of charts and oral repetition is excellent. Count how many times he mentions "inequality" here. We wrote about how important repetition is for persuasion recently in A Surprising New Reason to Repeat Yourself at Trial.

  13. 17:00 Repetition and Rule of Three: Following in the footsteps of MLK, Winston Churchill, and others, Professor Lessig uses a classic rhetorical technique called Anaphora when he repeats his "you want - we will not get" phrase three times over.

  14. 17:33: Hard to Read Fonts: If you want to get your audience to pay attention, give them something hard to read. He uses that approach here with his "most important problem" slide. We wrote about this technique being used to overcome confirmation bias in Font Matters - A Trial Graphics Consultant's Trick to Overcome Bias.

    litigation consulting graphics jury trial technology
  15. 18:31: Return the Focus to the Speaker: Watch as he decelerates the volume of slides to return the focus to the speaker. This is intentional and signals he is done with the presentation of evidence and moving on to his closing.

  16. 19:25: Closing: He contrasts reality with a dream of equality and makes his emotional plea. He contrasts between potential and reality or as Nancy Duarte described it, what is vs. what could be.

  17. Throughout: Surprise: From font changes to the incorporation of video to the use of humor to his constantly varying slide style, Professor Lessig uses surprise to keep the audience engaged. It may be the most important persuasion technique used throughout the presentation, and we have written about it in Could Surprise Be One of Your Best Visual Persuasion Tools? and 5 Ways to Apply Active Teaching Methods for Better Persuasion.

There is a lot more Professor Lessig did right in this presentation, but these are some of the highlights. If you have been a reader of this blog for some time, these techniques should sound familiar. They are techniques employed by the world's best persuaders, they are the techniques we incorporate into our litigation graphics work, and every one of them can be used at trial to persuade more effectively.

Other A2L Consulting articles and resources related to PowerPoint presentations, visual presentation and rhetorical techniques:

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Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Presentation Graphics, PowerPoint, Persuasive Graphics, Visual Persuasion, Persuasion

How to Make PowerPoint Trial Timelines Feel More Like a Long Document

Posted by Ken Lopez on Tue, Mar 31, 2015 @ 01:33 PM

 

trial-timeline-litigation-slidingby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

I love a good trial timeline whether it's a printed large-format trial board or whether it's in PowerPoint form. This goes for my colleagues here at A2L, as well. In fact, we love timelines so much that we've even produced a book with more than 30 types of trial timelines illustrated.

Timelines are used as demonstrative evidence in just about every trial. They serve an obvious purpose of orienting judge and/or jury to the order of events and how those events relate to one another. It's the one exhibit that helps make sense of it all, particularly in a complex case.

As our trial timine book discusses, a timeline does not have to be limited to simple chronologies. In fact by incorporating graphs, photos, color schemes and more, a timeline can transmute from being simply informative to being quite persuasive.

When I first launched A2L back in the mid-1990s, timelines were almost exclusively printed on large trial boards. There were many advantages to this approach. Sometimes we had to use as many as five tiled boards standing next to each other to make a complicated case make sense and show many events over a long period of time.

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Relative to the 1990s, very few printed trial boards get produced these days, although we still prepare a good number each month. One of the best exhibits to use a printed trial board for is the timeline, because you can often leave it up in front of a jury or judge and help them stay oriented to your case. However what happens when you can't or don't want to print a large timeline on a board?

There are a couple of good techniques for designing timelines in PowerPoint, Prezi or Keynote that allow you to create the illusion of a much bigger canvas than you can otherwise show legibly in PowerPoint. I've written about this approach in Prezi before, but I continue to advise against using that program at trial because of issues people have with motion sickness.

The sliding timeline technique is a great method to use when you have many events over a long period of time. By creating a transition between slides that mimics sliding a large piece of paper across the screen you help keep your audience oriented and in touch with the passage of time. Have a look at the simple two-slide example below to see what I mean.

sliding-timeline

In this PowerPoint trial timeline that compares the role of testifying experts and consulting experts, we move along the litigation lifecyle in a case from complaint to discovery by sliding the timeline across the screen using a push from right transition. I think it does a good job creating a fluid and elegant transition, and it helps the jury clearly appreciate when you're going forwards and backwards in time. It's a simple lesson, but it is one I see frequently underutilized. Dig into the articles, books and webinars below to learn more.

Other articles and resources from A2L Consulting discussing trial timelines, printed trial boards, PowerPoint and litigation graphics generally:

trial timeline trial graphics litigation courtroom timelines


 

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Demonstrative Evidence, Presentation Graphics, Advocacy Graphics, PowerPoint, Visual Persuasion, Timelines, Prezi

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Authors

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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.


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Tony Klapper joined A2L Consulting after accumulating 20 years of litigation experience while a partner at both Reed Smith and Kirkland & Ellis. Today, he is the Managing Director of Litigation Consulting and General Counsel for A2L Consulting. Tony has significant litigation experience in products liability, toxic tort, employment, financial services, government contract, insurance, and other commercial disputes.  In those matters, he has almost always been the point person for demonstrative evidence and narrative development on his trial teams. Tony can be reached at klapper@a2lc.com.


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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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