This blog post is the second in a series that focuses on the fundamentals of trial graphics. Its content is based on a program Adam Bloomberg, Litigation Insights’ Managing Director for Visual Communications, co-presented with Bryant Spann, Partner at Thomas Combs & Spann PLLC, at the 2014 Midyear Meeting of the International Association of Defense Counsel in Carlsbad, California.
Good trial graphics can unify your presentation and drive home your most important themes. Bad trial graphics can make you and your client look unprepared; the worst can destroy your credibility. Following a few basic rules can dramatically improve the impact of your trial graphics.
Use Light on Dark. Use light lettering on dark backgrounds (especially for titles). The eye can more quickly pick up text in this format, which is one reason it is frequently used in interstate signs and television news graphics. Selecting text colors that promote easy and quick reading will help a jury to get your point quickly.
Economize Words. Jurors don’t want to, and sometimes can’t, read long passages of text or even long sentences. Filling a graphic with words can make it look too busy and lead your reader to give up. Limiting text imposes discipline on the advocate; you should be able to make your point thoughtfully and thoroughly, but also as directly and succinctly as possible. The same goes for your graphics.
• Choose Words Wisely. Remember, no matter how long you’ve worked on a case, your jury is hearing everything for the first time. Whether you are describing an obscure medical condition, a dense patent concept, or complicated contract language, word choice will have a big impact on jurors’ comprehension of these concepts. Take the time to wordsmith your graphics with your trial team and your client. Additionally, if you have terms of art that will be used throughout your case, consider a standalone graphic with just those words and short succinct definitions.
• Maximize Your Titles. A graphic’s title should tell the jury what it means and, when possible, reinforce your theme(s). There’s always a chance a judge could sustain opposing counsel’s objection, but look for opportunities to pose questions, make statements, or reinforce themes. In the event opposing counsel wins an objection, oftentimes electronic graphics permit quick and easy changes to your titles.
Tell a Story. Coordinate your graphics so they tell a story (and know for yourself what that story is). Do you want to show that your product has improved over the years as science has advanced? In this and other examples, you will need to guide jurors through establishing a knowledge base, then build on that with each additional slide. Using consistent colors and graphics forms will help jurors to follow your lead, understanding that successive images are part of the same story.
By: Adam Bloomberg, Managing Director – Visual Communications