April 18, 2016 Articles

Technically Speaking: Sharing Complex Information with Juries

An audience-centered approach.

By Janell Walther

Winston Churchill famously said, "I'm just preparing my impromptu remarks." The most talented speakers know the importance of both practice and preparation. Indeed, public speaking professionals often echo the mandate of my grade school piano teacher: "Practice, practice, practice." For presenting technical topics, this preparation is especially crucial. Often presenters will focus on the detailed content of their presentation, rather than on how it will be expressed. However, without careful thought put into the expression of complex subjects, audiences are likely to be lost in jargon or specialized reasoning.

Experts play an important role in shaping jury decisions—and probably increasingly so, as many cases now involve questions requiring technical knowledge. Finding the right expert to provide insight into and clarification of complex and technical topics is thus vital. The presentation of technical information must be accessible and organized—and paired with the necessary nuance to share a sophisticated narrative with a jury. When communication techniques with proven cognitive impacts are employed, jury members will feel more engaged and retain more information. These techniques include telling a story, clarifying the message, and considering the audience to enhance jury understanding.

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