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Trial Presentation Tips

Jeffrey M Allen and Ashley Hallene


  • Presentation software tops the list of most popular technology for trial lawyers.
  • Get familiar with the software before the trial.
  • Plan your presentation in advance by including high-quality visuals and then practice the presentation multiple times prior to the trial.
  • Be prepared for technical difficulties to occur during the trial.
Trial Presentation Tips
cscredon via Getty Images

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Presentation software tops the list of most the popular technology for trial lawyers. Tools such as Microsoft PowerPoint, Prezi, and Apple Keynote are useful for displaying visual aids such as exhibits or demonstrative evidence during trials. Diagrams, charts, and photographs can help to reinforce key points and make complex information more accessible. Below are some tips for using visual presentations at trial.

Tip 1. Get Familiar with the Software Before Trial

Make sure you have ample time to get familiar with the trial presentation software you plan to use. Practice with the software to ensure that you are comfortable with all the features and know how to use them effectively. Search for tutorials on YouTube or the software’s website to see how other users are using the software. These tutorials can provide a visual guide on how to use specific features or how to complete certain tasks. Once you have a basic understanding of the software’s features, start experimenting with the software by creating a new presentation. Use the tools and features you’ve learned to create a simple presentation to get more comfortable with the software. If you have access to training, take advantage of it. Many software companies offer online or in-person training sessions to help users get the most out of their software.

Tip 2. Plan Out Your Presentation in Advance and Practice, Practice, Practice

Organize and categorize your exhibits by topic or relevance so that they can be presented in an organized and logical manner during the trial. Grouping exhibits together can help to reinforce key arguments and make it easier for the judge and jury to understand the evidence. Organizing will help ensure your presentation runs smoothly and that you are able to focus on your arguments. Once you have a plan together, practice your trial presentation ahead of time. Make sure that you are comfortable with all the technology that you plan to use.

Tip 3. Use High-Quality Visuals

Your photographs, diagrams, and videos should be easy to see and understand. Avoid using complex charts or diagrams that may confuse the judge and jury. You should also avoid cluttering the screen with too many visual elements, which can be distracting and overwhelming. Use colors that are easy on the eyes and that contrast well with each other. Avoid using too many bright colors or using colors that clash. Use consistent fonts and formatting throughout your presentation to create a professional and cohesive look. Make sure that all text is easy to read and that there is enough contrast between the text and the background. You should also try to minimize text. Use bullet points and short phrases to convey your message, rather than long paragraphs of text. This will make your visuals more engaging and easier to understand.

Tip 4. Be Engaging

A trial presentation is an opportunity to tell a story and to engage your audience with the facts of your case. Storytelling is a powerful tool that can help you to connect with your audience and persuade them to see things from your perspective. Consider who your audience is and what will resonate with them. Tailor your story to your audience to make it more engaging and relevant. It may help to use a theme to tie your story together and make it more memorable. The theme can be a word or phrase that summarizes your story or a concept that is important to your case. When appropriate, use emotion to connect with your audience and make your story more impactful. Use vivid descriptions and sensory details to help your audience visualize your story. A law professor once said, “If you can get the jury to smell the scene with you, then you’ve got them hooked.” Use simple and concise language to tell your story. Avoid using legal jargon or technical terms that may confuse your audience. Use real-life examples and anecdotes to illustrate your story and make it more relatable. This can help to humanize your case and make it more compelling. Practice your storytelling skills to refine your delivery and make your story more engaging. Use pauses, intonation, and body language to emphasize important points and create dramatic effect.

Tip 5. Be Prepared for Technical Difficulties

Even with the most reliable software, technical difficulties can happen. Any number of things can go wrong during trial. Equipment malfunctions can occur with trial presentation software, audio or video equipment, projectors, and other technology that is used during the trial. Internet or network connections can be disrupted, which can affect videoconferencing, streaming, or accessing digital evidence. Power outages can occur unexpectedly, which can cause a loss of electricity to the courtroom and may result in delays or disruptions to the trial. Software compatibility issues can occur when different programs or versions of software are not compatible with each other, causing difficulty in presenting evidence. Security risks can arise if confidential information is stored on digital devices or transmitted over a network or Internet connection. Malware and viruses can also pose security threats and cause technical difficulties. Sometimes, the problem is just old-fashioned human error if the equipment is not used properly or staff are not adequately trained in how to use the equipment. You can prepare for these glitches by having additional equipment, having a technician available to provide support, and having hard copies of important documents and evidence on hand.

Trial presentation is just one part of a successful trial strategy. The right tools, preparation, and strategy are key to achieving your desired outcome.