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Sometimes I fear that my tips for trial lawyers might be perceived as self-serving. They're not, I promise, but I understand how someone could think that. Well, for at least for the duration of this article, don't take my word for it, please. Every day, we work with some of the world's best trial lawyers. I learn a lot from watching how the very best prepare for trial, and it is a pleasure to share what I witness with other great trial lawyers. Today, I'm presenting a collection of videos (some are from A2L clients, and some are not), trial presentation examples, sample litigation graphics, and other instances where trial lawyers and other great presenters lead by example. In this article, I'm not just asking you to accept what I say. I am asking you to watch your peers show or tell how to best persuade judges, jurors, and people in general. Here are twelve tips (really, there are hundreds of best practices embedded in here) from some of the world's best trial lawyers and presenters: Persuasive Storytelling Matters! Watch three accomplished trial lawyers explain why: https://www.a2lc.com/blog/three-top-trial-lawyers-tell-us-why-storytelling-at-trial-is-so-important Litigation Graphics should not be created by trial counsel - ever. These examples show why: https://www.a2lc.com/blog/excellent-litigation-graphics-in-the-impeachment-trial Litigation Graphics - It's no longer about reading bullet points. Jurors simply expect more!: https://www.a2lc.com/blog/still-think-persuasion-is-about-talking-while-showing-bullet-points-and-not-litigation-graphics Love him, hate him, respect him, disrespect him - whatever - this politician presents better than most trial lawyers (the linked articles are a trial lawyer presentation goldmine!): https://www.a2lc.com/blog/netanyahu-persuades-and-presents-better-than-most-trial-lawyers

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Almost every day, our trial-lawyer litigation graphics consultants and our jury consultants are working to help a trial team to develop, refine, and practice their opening statements. We do this nationwide, often hundreds of times a year. Every trial team is different. One team, I recently had the pleasure of working with asked me for a model of what the best trial presenters do a week or two before trial. They didn't come out and ask that specific question, but they asked a lot of specific questions like: To practice, do we just print our opening from Word and read it? How do we integrate the slides when practicing? Do we print out the PowerPoint slides, and what about the animations where the text overlaps when we print? Should I read the opening or memorize it? Should we just work from bulleted phrases? Do I use the slides as cues for what to say next? Should I run the presentation as first-chair? These are great questions! Fortunately, there are specific best-practices that answer each of these questions. For our litigation consultants and for our clients who go to trial often (1x/year+), many of these are second nature. For most, however, there will be a tip or two of very high-value below. Here are 10 best practices and tips for the period of time immediately before trial: 1. It should look like this when you are done. Put your politics aside for a second. The impeachment trial presentations were not the very best I've ever seen, but they were certainly good enough. If you use the trial presentation style from the impeachment trials, you are well on your way towards excellence. But, in particular, I want you to watch a minute or so of two videos and consider three elements: 1. How trial presentation notebooks are used; 2. Absolutely no use of a clicker; 3. The presentations complement what is being said and don't feel like a jarring interruption. Here is an example from each side of the impeachment trial. Watch about 60 seconds of each to see the presentation style.   2. The trial presentation notebook. I think a well-prepared trial presenter works toward (at a minimum) presenting in a way that looks like those trial lawyers above. They use PowerPoint and follow many best practices for doing so. See my four-part series on trial presentation lessons from the impeachment trial. In particular, however, note that each trial lawyer presents from a trial presentation notebook. Their arguments are written out, PowerPoint slides are integrated into the language in Word, and this is printed out and placed in a three-ring binder so that the presenter never gets lost. They read their statements for the most part, but they also connect with their audiences. The printed version of your trial presentation notebook should look a bit like this as you head to trial: As you can see, your demonstrative evidence and real evidence is integrated into your written opening. Also, pauses and reminders to the presenter are included in the text. It's great when a trial lawyer memorizes their opening, but I find this only really works AFTER the entire opening has been written word-for-word in full-text form. I would MUCH rather watch a presenter who is organized and polished who reads than one wings it and stumbles about. I find that after one practices their opening from the written version enough, one cannot help but memorize it. 3. First chair really should not run the presentation.  I know you like to be in control. I know you might want to go back and say something. However, if you have practiced enough, none of that will happen, and control doesn’t matter anymore. Hand over the clicker/laptop, and you get to look polished and prepared. Please see Trial Lawyers, Relinquish the Clicker. When you have your trial presentation notebook printed and ready to go, your trial technician (or a colleague) can simply follow along and control the presentation.

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Finally. High-quality litigation graphics made an appearance at the impeachment trial. If you are a trial lawyer or you help trial lawyers, this article is a must-read, because it will help you see the future and help you persuade better. I've published three recent articles about the impeachment hearings/trial and the litigation graphics and technology used: 5 Litigation Graphics Lessons from the Impeachment Hearings Who Won the Impeachment Trial Initial Opening Statements? Impeachment Hearings Provide Trial Technology Lessons I thought those three articles would be my last on the subject, and then something impressive happened. Objectively effective litigation graphics were (finally) used on Day 6, and they offer a look into the future for all trial lawyers. The first five days of the impeachment trial left me feeling sad for those rare few of us who are experts in the art and science of litigation graphics. For the most part, the PowerPoints used were better than nothing but fell far short of maximizing persuasion (based on current persuasion science). They looked like what lawyers can create on their own, what you see at most trials, and what you see in most corporate conference rooms. They were ugly and flawed. Again, though, they were better than nothing. When defense counsel presented opening statements on Day 1 of the trial and used no visuals, I was confused. I know the background of some of these lawyers and have worked with some of them. I know they know better. It was disheartening.  And then came the opening defense arguments on Day 6, and finally, excellent litigation graphics made an appearance.  As I've said before, none of my articles are political in any way. I am only commenting on the quality of the litigation graphics presentations and technology used. I'm leaving the content entirely alone. Nevertheless, I know it's hard to separate the litigation graphics from the messenger if you feel strongly about one side or the other. But, if you are a trial lawyer, you really should be able to separate the two. The litigation graphics used on Day 6 were very good - both from a persuasion science standpoint and from an artistic standpoint. I appreciate the sophistication of them as they now can help me explain what good PowerPoint looks like (without getting into our presentations which are often sensitive or confidential). Let's discuss five key points and briefly discuss what you can learn from them. 1. These litigation graphics were more like a news graphic than a trial graphic. The national news industry is years ahead of most of the legal industry in creating memorable and persuasive graphics. I've written about this in articles like 10 Things Litigators Can Learn From Newscasters and Watch The Weather Channel Use Animation to Persuade.

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The Top 100 Litigation Articles

Today, we are celebrating you - our subscribers -  because we have reached a new milestone - 10,000 subscribers to this blog! To celebrate, we are releasing the list below for the very first time - A2L Consulting's Top 100 Articles of All Time. We started this publication in 2011 against my best instincts, and I delight daily in how wrong I was. Now, almost 700 articles later, being named a top blog by the ABA, and after millions of visits to our site and The Litigation Consulting Report blog (free subscription here), I now understand that we filled a significant void.  It turns out that those seeking to persuade, inside the courtroom or elsewhere, really did not have an excellent place to go and learn about persuasion science. They certainly don't teach storytelling for persuasion in law school, and the intricacies of demonstrative evidence/visual aids are too much for any one lawyer to master (while trying cases). So, I'm proud that so many have enjoyed these articles about storytelling, voir dire, jury consulting, litigation graphics, trial technology, persuasion, and much much more. These articles are ranked by the number of visits to the article. Some have been read hundreds of thousands of times. I hope you will keep reading our old and new articles, and feel free to share a free subscription with a friend. A2L Consulting's Top 100 Articles of All Time 5 Questions to Ask in Voir Dire . . . Always The Top 14 Testimony Tips for Litigators and Expert Witnesses 10 Ways to Spot Your Jury Foreman Lists of Analogies, Metaphors and Idioms for Lawyers 14 Tips for Delivering a Great Board Meeting Presentation 15 Tips for Great Customer Service from the Restaurant Industry The 50 Best Twitter Accounts to Follow for Lawyers and Litigators The Top 10 TED Talks for Lawyers, Litigators and Litigation Support The Top 5 Qualities of a Good Lawyer 10 Things Every Mock Jury Ever Has Said 12 Reasons Bullet Points Are Bad (in Trial Graphics or Anywhere) 15 Fascinating Legal and Litigation Infographics 4 Ways That Juries Award Damages in Civil Cases 16 PowerPoint Litigation Graphics You Won't Believe Are PowerPoint

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I've written two articles recently about the impeachment proceedings, and after publishing each, someone has written to me and accused me of bias. With thousands of people reading these articles, this is to be expected, I suppose. Well, in these two bias accusations, I was accused once by the left and then next by the right. I'm proud of this fact, as this suggests I'm not actually demonstrating bias. In fact, I believe my political beliefs are not relevant in my role as CEO of A2L. We're not a political entity. So, I have to warn you, this article is not political, it is not about the content of the statements the presenters made, and it is also not really about the weight of the evidence on either side of the impeachment trial. It is, however, about who won the first day of trial presentations during the Senate impeachment trial — from a trial presentation best-practices standpoint. On this question, I thought the answer was clear.

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The science around repetition is well settled, and I've always found it a little disturbing. For all the advanced degrees, experience with thousands of cases, and the wisdom litigation consultants like us have to share about maximizing persuasion at trial; the truth is one of the easiest ways to increase persuasion at trial is simply to repeat yourself - a lot. It is a technique used by politicians and trial lawyers alike. However, I think the political climate of the last few years has shown us that there are few upward limits on the number of times one can repeat themselves before it feels uncomfortable. And it works. Politicians on all sides and people of all political beliefs make false assertions, these assertions are repeated and amplified by social media, and over time, people come to believe them. This has happened for thousands of years. It's just much more accelerated now, so it feels new. The last ten years brought us this social media multiplier effect. Now, repetition comes fast and from seemingly independent sources - both factors that increase persuasion. Furthermore, assertions are often presented in a meme-like format, and the easier an assertion is to process, the more likely someone is to be persuaded by it. That's why short and simple quips frequently repeated are far more persuasive than a well-reasoned lecture delivered once.

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I enjoy an interesting turn of phrase and an interesting bit of trivia more than most people. So, for me, I'm especially delighted when someone can find a way to combine trivia and language in a memorable way. Fortunately, in the litigation graphics and jury consulting business, there are many opportunities to do just that. At A2L, we are routinely challenged with finding a creative way, both visually and with words, to explain complex topics like volume, speed, amounts, and scale. We have written about some of these methods in articles like Explaining a Complicated Process Using Trial Graphics, Antitrust Litigation Graphics: Explaining Complex Information Simply, and 6 Ways to Convey Size and Scale to a Jury. Explaining time presents unique challenges. Sometimes you need to emphasize how long ago something occurred, sometimes you need to show how close in time two events are, and sometimes you want to show how far apart two events are. This is why timelines are used in most trials, but sometimes that simple litigation graphic is not enough to be memorable. These five tips with examples discuss different time comparisons that can come in handy when preparing for trial. 1. Explaining (orally) something happened a long time ago: If you want to explain something is old or occurred a long time ago with words, you can relate it to something everyone automatically agrees is old. For example,  Bernie Sanders, Michael Bloomberg, and Joe Biden were all born closer to the Civil War than today. Hard as that may seem to believe, it's true and very memorable. I don't share that with any political intent, I promise. These men are people to admire for various reasons. What's interesting is that you'll probably repeat this fact to someone else, which is exactly the same behavior we want from jurors. That's the power of an original and surprising time comparison. Oxford University is older than the Aztec Empire, The Incas, and the printing press. This fact is similarly surprising. To most, the Aztecs and the Incas seem ancient. In a way, they are. But Oxford opened its doors in 1049. Humans and the T-Rex lived closer in time than the T-Rex and the Stegosaurus. I founded A2L Consulting about a year after Jeff Bezos founded Amazon. I keep telling myself I can still catch up. 2. Explaining the passage of time: A2L was engaged by the Justice Department to help explain how several individuals conspired to win government contracts by illegally sharing information on the telephone. A defense was raised that they didn't really speak by phone that often. Using an election year reference to the home of Sarah Palin, we explained that the conspirators had spent 3,548 minutes on the phone. That number by itself would probably mean nothing to a jury. We translated that fact into a memorable litigation graphic that showed that in 3,548 minutes, someone could drive from New Orleans (site of the trial) to Wasilla, Alaska (the election year reference). The implication was, of course, that in that amount of time, a lot of conspiring could be accomplished. They were convicted.

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Over the past ten years, we have written about persuasive storytelling more than any other subject. There are dozens of A2L storytelling articles, e-books, and webinars on the topic. A2L's most popular CLE/presentation is called Storytelling for Trial Lawyers. I have presented it at dozens of major law firms, PLAC, DRI, and other conferences. The subject matter is always well received. The reason we publish and talk so much about storytelling is that trial lawyers increasingly understand that being a superb storyteller is essential for maximizing persuasion. More and more scientific studies confirm this each year, and I think most of us understand this instinctively. Storytelling is how humans have always shared information in a memorable and persuasive way. While many great trial lawyers are naturally great storytellers, I know from experience that anyone can learn to become a very good storyteller. It's a challenging thing to learn, but it is possible with practice.  In my talk on Storytelling for Trial Lawyers, I provide one framework for telling a great story known as the Pixar method. Every Pixar movie follows this format, and it works fantastically well for building an opening statement. I've written about Dan Pink discussing this topic in the past. However, that method that both Dan Pink and I speak about is actually culled from a list of 22 storytelling tips that a former Pixar employee published almost ten years ago. The original list can be found here, but I have modified that list to be trial lawyer-friendly and focused on the opening statement. In this form, I think it can serve as a useful checklist and guide for any trial lawyer preparing an opening statement. As we help other trial lawyers enhance their opening statements and opening trial presentations/litigation graphics, it is a tool that we use, and it works. I'd recommend coupling this list with some of our other publications about storytelling, especially some of these articles: Storytelling at Trial - Will Your Story Be Used? Portray Your Client As a Hero in 17 Easy Storytelling Steps Poor Litigation Character Development Will Yield Poor Results Are You Smarter Than a Soap Opera Writer? Ten Ways to Maximize Persuasive Courtroom Storytelling (Part One) A2L's 22 Rules for Litigation Storytelling in the Opening Statement - Adapted from Emma Coats' 22 Pixar Storytelling Rules Explain how the client tried and failed over and over. Keep in mind what’s interesting to the judge and jury, not what’s interesting to counsel. They can be very different. If you have a narrative and theme from the beginning great, but if you discover those along the way, go back and rewrite your opening statement with those in mind.

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