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I love what we can do with data at A2L, particularly when we couple well-chosen words with well-designed litigation graphics. I think this area of our litigation consulting work is one place we add tremendous value. We can overplay a threat, or we can make something seem harmless. The latter is MUCH harder to do. Today, I'll focus on how one can use language and data to either inflame or calm your audience selectively. Why would you want to do this? Frankly, it's one thing trial lawyers and trial consultants do every day. Litigants on both sides of a case work with highly creative people who find ways to message the truth in a way that favors the client. Virtually every type of case benefits from this kind of statistical messaging. Fear is the best lever we have to motivate decision-making. We've written about this sort of thing before in articles like: 6 Ways to Convey Size and Scale to a Jury 5 Demonstrative Evidence Tricks and Cheats to Watch Out For What Trial Lawyers Can Learn From Russian Facebook Ads Trial Presentation Graphics: Questioning Climate Change in Litigation Using Trial Graphics & Statistics to Win or Defend Your Case Numbers in Litigation Graphics Do Not Lie, People Do The coronavirus is no joke, and I don't intend to be lighthearted or flippant about it. But, most of us are talking about every day now, right? And, the cacophony of those discussions will only get louder over the next month. It's an accessible and relevant example to use to make a point, and this article might even give you a talking point or two. As you read this article, remember, the point of this post is to point out how easy it is to use (arguably) accurate data to influence decision-making, not to use false data to make your point. Anyone can do that. So, should you be scared of the coronavirus? Presented below are two sets of five talking points, and all of them are true. As you read through them all, ask yourself, which side won out? Fear or peace. 5 Reasons to Be Terrified of the Coronavirus It's everywhere, and there is no cure. COVID-19 is probably very widespread already, and more frighteningly, we just don't know how widespread. We've all heard that testing in the U.S. was flubbed very badly. Source. So, given that we've only seen 135 cases in the United States, why might we worry that it is everywhere? Well, the old lily pad adage explains why worrying about the spread is well-founded. If you know a pond will be fully covered by lily pads after 48 days, and that lily pads will double in coverage every day (as the coronavirus does), how many days will it take before the pond is half covered? Our readers are some of the smartest, most educated people in the world, so I bet you figured that one out. It's day, forty-seven. But, the point of this example is the troubling follow-up question: at what point would you really notice the lily pad coverage? The answer is somewhat scarily, maybe, day forty-three, forty-four, or day forty-five when coverage is around 5-10%. So, we only may be at day five or so in this metaphor, which is why we don't really notice the virus close to us yet. The incubation time before symptoms show up may be weeks, and many never show symptoms. Maybe we will understand how widespread it is once actual testing starts in a week. One expert believes there may already be 100,000 cases in the U.S. Source. Brain damage. Announced yesterday, it can cause brain damage. Source.

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I recently read two studies by Professor Jeffrey Loewenstein of the University of Illinois that offer extremely valuable persuasion tools for trial lawyers. They were not written with trial lawyers in mind, but the lessons they teach are universal when it comes to persuasion. Together they provide an important toolset for those of us who craft or hone opening statements for a living. The first of these studies, The Repetition-Break Plot Structure Makes Effective Television Advertisements [paywall], helps answer the question of why some advertising campaigns outperform others. It turns out there exists an ages-old and highly persuasive storytelling structure often seen in folktales around the world.  Advertisers who use it tend to win more awards, generate more purchases, and see their advertisements shared virally -- much like a folktale. It is my experience that techniques that sell products sell arguments just as well. We've written about this before in articles like Could Surprise Be One of Your Best Visual Persuasion Tools? and Repeat a Simple Message Repeatedly to Maximize Courtroom Persuasion. It is exactly these types of inherently persuasive language tools that arouse core human instincts that we must deploy in the courtroom for our clients benefit. After all, if we can give our jurors an easily memorable story, we give them a potent weapon to argue in favor of our position with other jurors.

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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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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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Last month I wrote about trial technology lessons trial lawyers could learn from the impeachment hearings. In that article, I highlighted a (common) technology mistake one congressman made using PowerPoint as part of their effort to question a witness. As the impeachment hearings moved into the next phase in front of the Judiciary Committee,even more PowerPoint presentations were being used to help question witnesses. Unfortunately, since most of the members of congress are not routinely presenting and persuading with PowerPoint, they made many of the same litigation graphics mistakes that a novice trial lawyer might. PowerPoint is a funny thing. Anyone can use it (even trial lawyers, paralegals, and associates), but almost no one can use it well when persuasion is the goal. Since anyone can make a slide that looks pretty good, they often don't know they are damaging their persuasiveness in the process of creating a slide. In many trial presentations I see, lawyers who do their own work would have been far better off not using trial graphics at all. If you are an expert in the field (like the team at A2L), you know there are simply too many rules of psychology, technical challenges, and skill sets to keep track of it all -- unless you do this kind of work every day. We have written about this many times in articles like: 12 Reasons Litigation Graphics are More Complicated Than You Think 17 Reasons Why Litigation Consultants Are Better at Graphics Than Law Firms Trial Lawyers: Only Do What Only You Can Do In the judiciary phase of the impeachment hearings, I noticed the same kinds of mistakes were made over and over. Many relate to the most common type of litigation graphic -- the call-out. A call-out litigation graphic is one where a portion of a document is highlighted or magnified in someway to draw attention to some aspect of the document, often just some key phrases. We’ve written about best practices involving call-outs many times before: Should You Read Documents Out Loud at Trial? Font Matters - A Trial Graphics Consultant's Trick to Overcome Bias 3 Styles of Document Call-outs Used at Trial During a single day of hearings, I noticed at least five key problems that were repeated over and over. 1. Font size.  The font size used throughout most of the hearings was generally not large enough. I try to encourage people not to let their font size dip below 28 points in PowerPoint. It’s a common rule that gets broken, but when you see your witnesses or jurors squinting, you know you’ve got an issue (as seen in the photo below).   2. Font Clarity. I think many call-outs are better when they are re-typed. Re-typing just makes the text more clear in most cases. I understand that many trial lawyers want a jury to feel that they are seeing the real document, but I believe this is best achieved by showing an image of the complete document and coupling that with a re-typed call-out in a font that matches the document. No one can read the tiny, fuzzy, and low-contrast text in the document call-out below when it is projected onto a screen. The designer would have been much better off showing the slide below, then highlighting, then doing a re-typed version of the text in a call-out that filled the screen.

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