Try Not to Put Them to Sleep
5 tips for crafting more effective legal presentations
Presentations are a way of life in the legal profession. Whether you’re arguing a case in court or hoping to land new business, it is essential that you communicate in a way that persuades the audience to your side, whether they are a jury, a judge, or a client. A good presentation can win the day; a disjointed or poorly executed one could put your audience to sleep.
Here are 5 tips to create legal presentations that work:
1. Incorporate some of the latest high-tech presentation tools
PowerPoint used to be the only option available for creating presentations. Today, there is a host of software options and apps that can help you create more dynamic and engaging presentations. They offer better organization and eliminate the need for reams of paper. They also help you easily organize slides and give you the ability to jump ahead or go back to your presentation seamlessly.
In terms of tech tools, the iPad has revolutionized legal presentations. There is also trial software such as Apple’s Keynote and Prezi, apps like TrialPad and TrialDirector, and dozens more that can help you do everything from creating 3D timelines to research case law.
Check out these past Boss Reporting blogs for more ideas about presentation software and apps:
2. Tell a good story
Human beings are storytellers. We’ve been spinning tales since the dawn of time, whether they were carved into cave walls, written on Papyrus paper or entered into a computer. Legal presentations are essentially stories. You are telling the audience what happened or why they should trust you with their business. How do you tell the best story possible story?
One suggestion is to start at the end of the presentation and then work your way back, making sure that each slide leads to the conclusion you want. It’s also important to be flexible and make adjustments along the way. If you sense restlessness, boredom, or confusion in the room, change the pace or go back and explain something more clearly.
3. Practice…a lot
Nothing will kill a presentation faster than boredom. In order for the story to flow, you’ll need to practice. Become familiar with the material so you are telling a story in a natural way. Try not to simply read the slides verbatim as this can quickly become rote.
Another tip is to be careful of using slang or phrasing that might be unfamiliar to jurors of different ages and backgrounds. What makes sense to a married, fifty-year-old man from North Carolina might mean nothing – or even be offensive – to a single, twenty-five-year-old woman from South America.
4. Make sure your presentation is carefully designed and looks good
Poorly designed slides can kill a presentation as fast as boredom. You want to create simple, clean templates and graphics that are easy to read. It’s a good idea to create your slides and then view them as a juror or potential client would.
Here are some design tips:
- Use section headers that clearly identify important information and let listeners know what they’re looking at
- Choose a font that is easy to read and make sure the text is large enough to be seen from a distance
- Keep slides simple by avoiding cluttered blocks of text or multiple photos
- Stay away from long slides, distracting fonts, small fonts, and colors that make the text hard to see on a screen
- Utilize Bold, Italics, and Underline to ensure your most important points stand out
5. Incorporate different ways to communicate your story.
If you create a hundred slides filled with nothing but text, you are likely to lose your audience. Think about what happens when you visit a website that has page after page of nothing but words. Your eyes grow tired or you just get bored.
Remember…boredom is your mortal enemy.
Mix things up with key images, graphics, and videos. Try not to go crazy as too much can be overwhelming, but a blend of different elements can help emphasize a point and keep your audience engaged.
When it comes to pictures, if you don’t have original images and you can’t afford custom, professional photography, consider using royalty free stock photos from websites such as StockSnap.com, UnSplash.com, CanStockPhoto.com, iStock.com, or any of dozens of sites. Some sites offer free images, while others require a subscription that allows you to download a certain number of images.
An effective legal presentation is essential. Use these 5 tips to ensure you create an engaging and informative story that will win the case – or the client.
Boss Certified Real-Time Reporting provides court reporting services for everything from trials and mediations, to dispositions and conferences. We’re accurate, fast, and in your corner. For more information call us at 954-467-6867, or connect with us online today!