How effective are my trial presentations? It’s a common question that any good litigator will ask multiple times over the course of his or her career. As a previous trial consultant and now as a product manager for LexisNexis® Sanction®, I have spent a lot of time talking with legal teams about how they can improve their trial presentations and drive better outcomes for their clients. During landmark cases in which I was involved, we could not afford to have technology difficulties and awkward lags in momentum; it was imperative that our team was prepared before trial. As technology moves beyond novelty to an expectation in a growing number of trials, it’s important to periodically review your effectiveness and aptitude in the courtroom.
1. Keep Your Equipment Current
A sure-fire way to bomb in front of a jury is to have outdated equipment that fails during your most critical time. If your equipment (laptop, projector) is more than 3 years old, it is time to look for something new. Projectors come in many degrees of brightness as well as resolutions. Look for a projector that is at least 3,500 lumens in brightness and projects at a native 16:10 aspect ratio. That will match your new laptop when you are connecting for a presentation. A portable screen ensures that you have sufficient space to display your images and videos. If you do get a wide-screen projector at a native 16:10 aspect ratio, make sure your screen matches.
2. Mix and Match Presentation Methods
Monotony is one of your greatest enemies in the courtroom. Jurors’ minds can wander if you stick with one presentation method throughout the trial. You know that you need to be clear and compelling, but so do the various aspects of your presentation. Keep multi in mind when you incorporate multimedia into your case. In addition, don’t be afraid to incorporate traditional methods like large timelines and white boards/butcher paper. Every point to be made in a presentation does not require the use of electronic methods. Keeping things fresh and changing the focus of attention will maintain the audience’s attention.
3. Use Video Effectively and In Moderation
Few mediums are as powerful as video when it comes to illustrating facts. With the right software, you can even create and edit video clips on the fly in response to a judge’s rulings during trial. By utilizing the power of video within litigation presentation software, you can also play video testimony synchronized with deposition transcripts. But remember: it is possible for your jurors to get too much of a good thing. Watch your deposition segments in advance to gauge their impact. Save the playing of video for your best, most important points. When you encounter minor points to display, use the transcript. This will ensure your video has maximum impact when used and will also reinforce mixing presentation methods for greater effectiveness.
4. Know Your Technical Limitations—Both for You and Your Equipment
You’ve mastered the facts—make sure you master your technology. Never be afraid to ask for help, either internally within your organization or externally to trusted support companies. Invest the time you need to feel confident with the equipment that you’ll be using in the courtroom, as well as the software. Consider familiarizing yourself with and using software, such as Sanction®, to present documents, exhibits, transcripts, demonstratives, and video that will be used to present evidence throughout litigation.
5. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
They say practice makes perfect, and the high-stakes truth of that statement is rarely more apparent than in the courtroom. Software such as Sanction can help you organize evidence throughout the life of a case and create powerful visuals, along with other materials to present with confidence. Visit the venue in advance, if it is an electronic courtroom, plug in your devices and check the display on every monitor or projector in the room. If you are bringing your own projector, test it at your office and make sure you have adequate bulb life to get through your trial or proceeding. If any of your tools (such as digital pointers or remotes) require batteries, be sure to have a back-up in your briefcase. And, perhaps most importantly, take time to review every piece of evidence, every demonstrative and every video segment one last time before presenting.
Easy to use but powerful, Sanction litigation presentation software is one of the best ways to prepare for and present an effective trial presentation. Sanction offers a proven way to organize, manage, and present evidence throughout the life of a case, along with other materials that will help you present with confidence. To explore it for yourself simply register for an online demonstration of Sanction—when you do you’ll receive 20% off your purchase of the software.
Mike Hahn is senior director of product management at LexisNexis and is an original founder of Verdict Systems, creators of Sanction. Hahn has provided consulting services for landmark matters such as United States v. Timothy McVeigh, the Washington, D.C., sniper trials, and Joseph Hirko v. United States (Enron Broadband Trial). In addition to consulting, he is a frequent speaker at industry trade shows and Continuing Legal Education events.