When you think about presentation software, the first thing that likely enters your mind is PowerPoint. You’ve seen professors use it. You see it used in board meetings. You see it used in office meetings. PowerPoint is nearly ubiquitous with an amazing 95% of the market when it comes to presentation software. You even see it courtrooms, where the vast majority of lawyers prefer it to wheeling out TV sets and using corkboard for presentations.
Today, the best trial presenters don’t rely entirely on their body language to drive their points home. They integrate their slides into their opening and closing arguments to ensure that the jury is maintaining their attention. Here are some helpful PowerPoint tips for trial lawyers to improve their presentations.
It may be tempting to use widescreen as your default template, but the majority of courtroom technology doesn’t have a widescreen. Courtrooms that do have widescreens will have monitors filled with your slide. Those that don’t, on the other hand, will have empty space, leaving the jury feeling like they’re looking through a window. Unless you know for certain that the courtroom has widescreen monitors, you’re better off choosing the standard 4:3 layout.
A lot has been written on the psychological effects of color, and while most of this sounds New Age, there’s at least one point that can be taken to heart. You want to avoid high-contrast. That means no black on white. You also want to avoid the use of primary colors. These can both cause visual fatigue and make it more difficult for your audience to concentrate.
Avoid overly-busy templates. They can be distracting for viewers and make it more difficult for them to hone in on what’s important. For the same reason, you want to avoid too much text on the screen. When laying out your slides, strive for a balance between textual and graphical elements.
Video is a great means of illustrating a point to the jury. But you want to ensure that your video will play properly. You should ensure that the media file is saved as a file type that PowerPoint can actually play. You don’t want to get stuck explaining to the jury what the video would have played if only it had.
Other Important Tips
Here are two more PowerPoint tips for trial lawyers that sometimes fly under the radar. In some instances, an attorney may want to blank the screen so that the jury’s attention goes directly back to them. Luckily, PowerPoint offers this as an option. Simply hit the ‘B’ button, and the screen will blank out.
Additionally, you can go to any one slide directly by pushing the ‘enter’ key and then the page number. This avoids having to click through several slides in order to get from one slide to the next.
Get Help With Your Presentations
A. William Roberts, Jr. & Associates (AWR) is a leading litigation support services provider with 24/7 nationwide availability. We can provide a range of services to help you strengthen your trail presentations from animations and medical illustrations to storyboards, legal video services and more.
Contact us today to learn more and schedule services.