10 Most Common Mistakes Lawyers Make When Presenting to a Jury
The key to presenting to a jury is to capture and keep their attention. Make them feel what your client is going through without - of course - asking them to feel what your client is going through. Lawyers can readily take away many tips from Steve Jobs's presentation techniques and skills. I know as lawyers you are all thinking it - "The one trend lawyers should not follow Steve Jobs, is in his attire."
If you had ever watched Steve Jobs speak, explain and even present a new Apple product, he knew how to entertain, educate and motivate. Following Mr. Job's example, here are some tips for lawyers on how to improve their courtroom presentations:
1. Believe in Your Product and Be Passionate - As lawyers, your product is your client and their case. If you do not believe in your client's case, then who will. Make sure you show your dedication and loyalty to your client and your case by the use of your body language and choice of words to your client.
2. Create a short and Memorable Theme Line - For OJ Simpson it was "If the glove don't fit, you must acquit." For many civil lawyers the Rules of the Road created the "Worst First." It is a quick and short punchline that lets Jurors remember the theme and stay focused.
3. Good vs. Bad - Make sure that there is villain. Our society is always ready to point the finger at someone for the blame. And in fact, your job as a lawyer is to place the blame on your opposing party. Steve Jobs always made sure that there was a reason for a new Ipod, Ipad, Iphone - there was always a problem to overcome.
4. 3 is the Magic Number - Present your case is three parts. In a negligence case for example: liability, causation and injuries. If your case is limited to damages: past treatment, current treatment and future treatment.
5. Avoid Reading From a Prepared Speech - It is okay to have notes to guide you. I would even recommend bullet points, but you do not want to stand in front of a jury a read off you closing statement. It does not appear to be sincere. When you present to the jury and you go over the content without reading it shows your conviction and how you have internalized your client's case. We also recommend using a timeline or document blow-ups used through out trial to act as your "bullet points." This will allow you to keep a theme, jurors will be able to see a demonstrative once again and allow you to point to something concrete that the jurors can refer to.
6. Prepare and Practice, Practice and Prepare - Just when you think you are ready for trial, practice your opening, closing, voir dire, direct and cross examinations once again. This also includes practicing using boards or multimedia interactives. You want to be able to smoothly transition from exhibits and demonstratives in front of a jury. It is a physical representation of your commend and control over your case.
7. Simplicity is Key - If you are using a timeline, power point presentation or an infographics make sure that you have redacted as much information as possible. Only incorporate the needed information to prove your case. It is important that you assume that every juror has the capacity of 3rd grader in order to ensure that you have made you case intelligible for ALL prospective jurors. If your jurors cannot understand your case and your exhibits, they will likely not side with your client.
8. Motivate the Jury to Do the Right Thing - Always remember your goal that the verdict be in your favor.
9. There is no Substitute for Hard Work - You cannot hope or wish that the jury finds in favor of your client. You have to hope for the best but prepare for the worst. The way you prepare for the worst is by working hard and knowing your case better than your opponent.
10. ENTERTAIN - Use exhibits, video, boards, 3Danimations, medical illustrations, and multimedia interactives to entertain your jury. Jurors are used to being constantly bombarded with different stimuli to capture their attention. Do not fight the trend, indulge the jury with what they want.
APVisuals is a full litigation support company working with lawyers and law firms in South Florida, Miami, Broward and West Palm Beach. If you are headed to trial or mediation please contact us to discuss how we can support you and help you prepare your case.