by Laurie R. Kuslansky, Ph.D.
Managing Director, Jury & Trial Consulting
Do movie trailers include the most boring part of a movie?
Of course not. They include something to grab your attention quickly and show what the movie is about and why you should be interested in it in a few words and images. In that brief window, many viewers decide if it is worth seeing or not.
An opening statement is similar. A common mistake is to assume that more equals more. It does not. A great presenter brings forth a winning story, including why the audience (jury) should care, and thematically gets and keeps their attention without excess words. The idea is to assemble the information into eye-catching visuals that do the work for the jury, take the guesswork out of their conclusions and aren’t just a list of words in a PowerPoint being read aloud. There is no better way to summarize, simplify, organize, condense, and contextualize information than with good litigation graphics.
That holds true at mock trials as well. A mock trial requires condensing presentation material to fit within strict time limits. Mock jurors are burdened with receiving, understanding and remembering a lot of information in a little time. Graphics help them do so, so that their interaction with the facts is not random – based on limited information, cognitive overload and an overtaxed memory – but based more closely on the key facts, issues, legal questions and the law that the sponsor of the mock trial is hoping to test.
Winning a rigged contest isn't worth it.
A key consideration for conducting a worthwhile mock trial is to ensure balanced presentations for both sides or risk distorting the outcome because the deck was stacked in your favor. An unearned “win” is a false positive. It is better to do no jury research than to do bad jury research. Part of what is required to perform good mock jury research includes presenting good litigation graphics, for both sides, by as good a presenter for the opposing side as yours, taking equal presentation time for both sides, and showing unlikable evidence as a minimum starting point to pressure test your case.
Being penny-wise, but pound foolish isn't worth it, either.
Anyone who rejects litigation graphics at a mock trial for budgetary or other reasons is probably litigation amateur. Top-tier litigators wouldn't dream of doing it that way at a mock trial. If money is the barrier, there are many ways to accomplish the goal cost-effectively, including a hybrid of in-house and outside professional support, re-allocating resources in a more productive manner, or providing the consultant with the total budget that can be apportioned for the mock trial and asking for their advice on how best to achieve the goals of the trial team and client within budget.
Don't get caught empty-handed.
The absence of litigation graphics at a mock trial creates easily avoidable problems. It is foolhardy to believe that no one will notice and it can wait “till the real trial.” On the contrary: typically during mock deliberations, foreseeable questions arise that would have been so easy to remedy with basic graphics that were missing. “When did that happen? Who did that first? Who was he? What was the name of that agreement? What did it say?”
A lot of time is often wasted trying to figure out a simple fact that was missed because it was said, not shown -- and thus, not remembered or unclear. Counsel ends up looking foolish for omitting them. As a result, the expense “saved” in not providing graphics for the mock trial is eclipsed by the unfavorable distortions that result. Their absence and the "savings" are not applauded in the end. Better to provide them from the beginning.
Other free articles and free resources about mock trials, opening statements and litigation graphics from A2L Consulting:
- 16 PowerPoint Litigation Graphics You Won't Believe Are PowerPoint
- How I Used Litigation Graphics as a Litigator and How You Could Too
- 6 Studies That Support Litigation Graphics in Courtroom Presentations
- Free Download: Storytelling for Litigators E-Book 3rd Ed.
- 25 Things In-House Counsel Should Insist Outside Litigation Counsel Do
- Podcast: 5 Ways to Maximize Persuasion During Opening Statements
- Podcast: 12 Things Every Mock Juror Ever Has Said
- Webinar: 12 Things Every Mock Juror Ever Has Said
- 5 Ways That a Mock Trial Informs and Shapes Voir Dire Questions
- 7 Ways to Draft a Better Opening Statement
- Why a litigator is your best litigation graphics consultant
- 6 Reasons The Opening Statement is The Most Important Part of a Case
- How to Structure Your Next Speech, Opening Statement or Presentation
- 10 Things Every Mock Jury Ever Has Said
- 11 Problems with Mock Trials and How to Avoid Them
- Contact A2L with a question about a mock trial
- 12 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Mock Trial
- Here are 6 good reasons to conduct a mock trial
- A2L Voted Best Jury Consultants by Readers of LegalTimes
- 5 Things Every Jury Needs From You
- Is Hiring a Jury Consultant Really Worth It?
- 12 Insider Tips for Choosing a Jury Consultant