Be prepared when presenting evidence in court

By Payne Consulting Group

The manner and method that you choose to present evidence to a judge or jury can greatly affect the outcome of your case. One of the best ways to create a strong impression and build support for your client and case is by combining photographs, sounds, and graphics in a multimedia presentation. It has been estimated that up to 85% of visual evidence is retained by jurors — no other format even comes close.

Preparing your presentation

Before rolling out your multimedia presentation during Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), mediation, or trial, you will want to carefully prepare, arrange, and rehearse each part of the presentation. The last thing that you want is an unexpected surprise in front of your audience. Keep a few of the following points in mind as you begin putting together your presentation:

  • Keep it simple     Use the presentation as a tool to break down complex subjects to jurors who have little knowledge about the issues.
  • Keep it short     Briefly highlight the key points and relevant issues that you want to present.
  • A little goes a long way     Don't overuse effects.
  • Get help from others     If you don't have much experience using multimedia, ask for help from litigation support services or work with an outside consultant to create the presentation.
  • Practice makes perfect     Rehearse the presentation to make sure that transitions and timing work well with other visual or sound effects.

Using evidence in a multimedia presentation

As you collect and analyze evidence during the discovery phase of the trial, you can determine which pieces of evidence might be most suitable for use in a multimedia presentation. You can incorporate a wide range of information and formats into a presentation, including:

  • Digitized photos
  • Graphics and clip art
  • Diagrams, graphs, maps, and charts
  • Video clips
  • Sound files
  • Scanned documents

The sky (and your creative imagination) is truly the limit. As long as the multimedia program that you are using can handle and display a particular format, you can use whatever evidence is available to create the most effective presentation.

Creating a visually effective presentation

One of the primary goals of using multimedia to present evidence is creating a strong visual impression on the jury or judge. A wide range of tools are available in programs such as Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2003 to enhance graphics and pictures, create colorful charts, or add sound and video effects. A visually appealing presentation helps you to tell your story in a way that is both effective and entertaining.

When to use multimedia

Whether you choose to use multimedia in your opening statement, closing argument, or somewhere in between depends on the nature of the case. For instance, if you are involved in a case that is highly technical, you might open with a presentation that lays out the facts in a simple fashion. In a personal injury case, you might want to close with a presentation that includes pictures or videos of the accident victims in order to generate sympathy among members of the jury.

Presenting the evidence

When the time arrives for you to present your evidence, keep a few things in mind about using multimedia to make sure that everything runs smoothly and according to plan:

  • Check that all of the equipment is connected properly and running. Get there early and do it yourself, or hire a professional to do it for you.
  • Make sure that you have access to a reliable power source and that the batteries for your portable computer are fully charged in the event of a power surge or failure.
  • Don't overpower your computer. If your presentation is video, photo, or sound intensive, make sure your portable computer has enough memory to handle it.

When you are confident that the equipment and mechanics are in place, you can spend more time focusing on the delivery of your presentation.

Which multimedia tool is right for you?

With so many different options available, you might wonder which software presentation program is right for you. Slide-type presentations, such as PowerPoint presentations, are very popular with litigators because they are easy to learn and use, and they can handle many different information formats (text, graphics, audio, and video). By using PowerPoint, you can also import Microsoft Office Word 2003 documents and Microsoft Office Excel 2003 files directly into your presentation. If you want to create a more sophisticated, custom multimedia presentation, you might want to investigate one of the many third-party programs that are available.

Make your case with multimedia

Today, more and more litigators are using multimedia software as part of their law practice. Multimedia can help you clearly lay out your case and hold a jury's attention. It can also help you to break down and simplify complex issues and highlight the important facts of the case. With the help of multimedia software, you can increase your effectiveness in court and make the strongest possible case for your client.

More information

About the author     Payne Consulting Group is a software training and development company headquartered in Seattle, Washington.

Applies to:
Excel 2003, PowerPoint 2003, Word 2003