What You Need to Know About Trial Presentation

Erik Schwartz

By Erik Schwartz

In today’s visually intensive world, thousands of images and sounds are competing for our attention every day from our smartphones, laptops, televisions and other sources. Figuring out how to best cut through the clutter and capture the attention of judges and juries long enough to impress your evidence and storyline upon their memories is a crucial, yet tricky and intricate, piece of your work as an attorney. Trial presentation, when properly understood and applied, is a critical component of capturing your audience’s attention and proving your case.

What is Trial Presentation?
On the surface, defining trial presentation seems simple – the display of photos, videos, charts, timelines, graphics or exhibits to allow the trier of fact to follow along and understand all of the important and relevant evidence. In a nutshell, trial presentation allows you to visually focus in on what is really important to the case at hand.

In reality, it is far more complex. Trial presentation comes in all shapes and sizes. It can be as simple as a PowerPoint slide or as extensive as a technical setup with videos, animations and highquality graphics working together in concert to illustrate your key evidence. Considering the full spectrum of services can be intimidating, but partnering with an expert who understands the best tools for different types of evidence and sequences will make all the difference.

Who Performs Trial Presentation?
There is a reason the position for the person running the show is often referred to as the hot seat. Trial presentation is a full-time job. It requires a lot of behind-the-scenes work, which can be difficult for an associate or paralegal that has a lot of other work. Many tech savvy attorneys also make the mistake of trying to take on the role of trial presenter in addition to trying the case. While it may not seem to be too daunting a task, consider what happens when a cable goes bad or the computer is not compatible with the projector? What happens when an image fails to appear on the screen?

A trained trial presentation consultant has the experience to troubleshoot and resolve these issues quickly and easily. The attorney should stay focused on convincing the judge or jury.

Why Trial Presentation?
Our current society is used to getting information digitally and electronically. We communicate through email, text messaging and instant messaging. We conduct meetings through videoconferencing and webinars. Newspapers, magazines and books are now downloaded and viewed on smartphones and tablets. News outlets stream breaking news stories online. Because we are accustomed to receiving information in electronic format, the best way to communicate evidence to a jury is through trial presentation.

Studies show that people are more than three times likely to retain information they see and hear at the same time, versus verbal communication alone. What was once thought to be too slick has become a basic requirement. Additionally, more and more courtrooms are wired for technology and more judges are requiring electronic presentation to keep things moving quickly and efficiently. Jurors now, in fact, expect trial presentation and view a lack of presentation as a lack of preparation.

When Should Trial Presentation Be Used?
Trial presentation should not be solely reserved for cases in front of a jury that involve a large number of documents. Because of the effectiveness and efficiency of trial presentation, technology can be used during arbitrations, hearings, motions, facilitations, jury trials, bench trials and oral arguments and any other event that calls for a clear understanding of the facts at hand. Video depositions played back in court can lose their effectiveness when the trier of fact is asked to sit though hours of staring at a talking head. It is much better to highlight salient portions of testimony by displaying a document or photo that has been referenced alongside the deposition testimony. The trier of fact is then able to see the evidence, keeping it in context, as well as having something to read which keeps them awake and alert. Trial presentation is also very effective in a mock trial setting as a way to present witnesses and exhibits for both sides of a case.

Where Can Trial Presentations Set Up?
Most trial presentation consultants will have the experience to come up with an audio/visual solution for almost any setting. Because of this, presentations can be set up in almost any courtroom, conference room, meeting room or office. Attorneys are not limited to only using trial presentation services in courtrooms that are prewired with technology. Screens, projectors, monitors and laptops can be positioned within just about any room configuration. Having a professional on hand who works with technical equipment every day can be invaluable to promptly resolve any technical problems that may occur and avoid disruption in your presentation of your case.

Summing it up, trial presentation creates effectiveness, efficiency and is valuable in every litigation scenario and is one of the most cost effective ways to present your case.

Erik Schwartz is the director of the trial services group with Computing Source, an all-in-one litigation support firm with offices throughout the Midwest. Erik holds a paralegal certification from Boston University and is an NCRA credentialed trial presentation consultant. With over 10 years of experience working in the field of litigation support, Erik has experience in the areas of civil litigation, product liability, medical malpractice, personal injury, contract disputes, copyright infringement, bankruptcy and civil rights. Erik has participated in over 75 trials in over 25 courthouses across the country and has worked as a presentation consultant on many high-profile cases including the city of Detroit municipal bankruptcy proceedings. For more information, visit www.computingsource.com or call (312) 554-1500.