Weight of the evidence slides are among the most basic argument slides. These slides, describing the standard in civil cases, are often used by plaintiff's counsel to distinguish the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard that jurors have heard about so often on television. The slide presents a white box with the words from the jury instructions — often "tipping the scales." A line appears below the box, and (with a second slide) the box itself tilts slightly as the lawyer is making the point.
Weight of the evidence slides are usually a "build," which means that two (or more) slides are used to express motion. This is a technique that has been around for many years, and it predates the animation capabilities in current presentation software. As the slide show moves from the first slide to the second slide, the viewer's eye fills in the motion. In this case, a "build" is more effective than animation.
PowerPoint defaults to starting a new presentation on startup. Use the following procedure to create your weight of the evidence slides:
Create a new presentation
- In PowerPoint, click the drop-down arrow at the top of the Getting Started task pane.
- Click Slide Layout.
- The Slide Layout task pane replaces the Getting StartedGetting Started task pane.
Set up a Title Only slide, and activate Grids and Guides
- From the Text Layouts area, click Title Only, which is in the upper-right corner.
- Activate the drawing guides. Click the View menu, and then click Grid and Guides.
- Display drawing guides on screen must be selected in the Grid and Guides dialog box for the slide to look as shown.
Complete the title box
- Click the title box to select it.
- Click the Line Style button on the Drawing toolbar, and select the line width that you want to use as a border for the text box.
- Type your text in the text box, and adjust font size and effects as necessary.
- Resize the text box to fit the text you typed, and then select and move the text box from the top of the screen to a position closer to the center.
- With the text box selected, click the Fill Color button on the Drawing toolbar. Click the arrow next to Fill Color, and select White.
Add the level line
- Click the Line button on the Drawing toolbar.
- Hold down the SHIFT key to get a straight line, and hold the mouse button to draw a straight horizontal line on your slide.
- With the line selected, click the Line Style button on the Drawing toolbar, and select a line size.
- To move the line, select it with the pointer and move it to the correct position on the screen. In this case, you want to center it under your text box.
Add background and duplicate the slide
- Click Background on the Format menu. Select a light background color that does not mask the line.
Note When discussing legal standards, it is useful to keep the slide simple so that the focus stays on the message.
- On the Slides pane, click the thumbnail of the first slide.
- Press CTRL+D. A duplicate slide appears.
Rotate the text box on the duplicate slide
- Click the text box on the duplicate slide.
- Click Placeholder on the Format menu. The Format AutoShape dialog box appears.
- Click the Size tab.
- In the Rotation box, increase the rotation to 1 degree. Click OK.
Play your slides
It is important to check your work by playing the slides to check that the "build" produces the action of tipping the scales.
- Click View Show on the Slide Show menu to view the results.
About the author This article was adapted from the Easy Tech Series: Argument Slides by the National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA) and is used by permission of NITA.