Some people just have it.
The confidence, the perfect rhythm and speed of talking, the right vocabulary and stories…everything to make a stellar presentation. They could be talking about the importance of tying your shoes with two loops instead of one, and you would still leave the room feeling inspired to be a better person.
But what about those of us who just don’t have it? You’ve spent weeks and months collecting evidence, annotating exhibits, and constructing your argument, but without a good presentation, all that effort might not matter.
In addition to having stellar trial presentation software, here are some tips to help you engage the jury and give a worthwhile presentation:
- Be Yourself. Yes, it’s cliché, but it has power. You have a unique personality, whether that is outgoing, soft-spoken, serious, light-hearted, confident, or more reserved. To be effective and confident while you’re presenting, you need to do what comes naturally. Talking too slow can be just as distracting as talking too fast. The jurors may not have law degrees, but they can tell when you’re faking enthusiasm or solemnity. Your strongest asset is to be natural.
- Don’t give them the whole pie. Imagine your favorite dessert, whether that be mint brownies, hazelnut cheesecake, or raspberry pie. You eat one bite of that dessert, and that delicious spoonful leaves you craving more. Now imagine how you would feel if you ate a whole giant pan of that dessert in one sitting. You would probably be sick to your stomach and ready to swear off sugar for the next 6 months. The same concept applies to your presentation; your videos, depositions, and annotated exhibits are great elements, but it’s possible to have too much of good thing. Make sure to give your jury a bite of the case instead of overwhelming them with too much information.
- Practice. You know the saying, “Practice makes perfect”. Practicing can be mundane and repetitive by nature, but the more you practice, the more confident you’ll be. Your presentation will flow smoothly, and you’ll be better able to handle any last-minute revisions or curveballs that get thrown your way during a trial.
- Don’t let technology control you. Your technological tools are meant to enhance your presentation, not replace you as the presenter. Ultimately your words are going to have the biggest impact on the jury, not the annotated exhibit on the screen. You provide the necessary commentary and explanations to give meaning and purpose to the evidence; without you, the jury sees a random collection of videos and images. Don’t underestimate your influence in the courtroom, and make sure the technology doesn’t overpower your argument.
- Involve your audience. The jurors in the courtroom have experiences and circumstances that strongly impact their perspectives and decisions. If you truly know your audience, you can communicate in a way that helps them to see the personal relevance of the trial. If one of the jurors is a middle school math teacher with three young kids, present in a way that connects his circumstances with your case.
Comment with any tips you use to have a successful trial presentation!
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