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I often talk about what not to do, but sometimes, I must remember to mention what you should do to achieve success at trial. In honor of leap year 2024, I have written this article offering 29 tips for successful trial preparation and execution. You can use this list as a checklist to compare yourself to your peers. I did not develop these ideas alone. Instead, they come from my experience working with the best of you over the past 30 years. 1. Conduct a mock trial. The very best litigators always conduct a mock trial when at least $10 million is at stake. Mock trials are a critical part of the Persuadius service offerings. If you want to discuss one, I invite you to email me (ken@persuadius.com) or call me (1-800-847-9330) or, ideally, fill out a client conflict check form by clicking the purple button in the upper right corner of this page. Only three people, including me, see those. 2. Conduct more than one mock trial. The ideal number is three, and that's precisely what I have observed the best trial lawyers do. It's not always affordable, but more than one mock is mandatory for cases with $25 million or more at stake. The only thing that varies is the investment in each mock trial. If $100 million or more is at stake, every mock should have every investment possible (i.e., a proper mock facility, a two-day or three-day mock, live witnesses, opening and closing statements, etc.). 3. Collaborate with litigation consultants who bring experience and insights to trial preparation. With a track record of handling hundreds of trials, we have witnessed exceptional and lackluster attorney performances. We aim to share valuable knowledge and advice, not lecture or boast about expertise. Drawing on the collective wisdom of countless cases, we strive to support you in crafting a solid and effective trial strategy. Litigation consultants can be exceptionally helpful when developing your opening statement. 4. Build a solid opening statement. In 30 years, I haven't seen anything to convince me that the opening statement is not the most essential part of the case. Some studies say that 80% of jurors make a decision about who will win after hearing opening statements. When done correctly, it should take months to develop an opening. It should be tested many times in whatever way your client can afford. We've written extensively about this. This topic is wonderfully covered in our opening statement toolkit ebook. See The Opening Statement Toolkit.

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Discover why using bullet points in PowerPoint presentations can hinder your ability to persuade and learn powerful tips to enhance your presentations. The Problem with Bullet Points: How They Kill Persuasion Bullet points have long been a staple of PowerPoint presentations. However, their overuse can actually hurt your ability to persuade and engage your judge/jury. Bullet points are often used as a crutch, allowing presenters to simply read off the slide instead of creating a compelling narrative. This can lead to a lack of connection with the judge and jury and a diminished impact of your message. Additionally, bullet points can make your presentation feel cluttered and overwhelming, making it difficult for your judge & jury to focus on key points. We have written extensively about this in articles such as, Still Think Persuasion is About Talking While Showing Bullet Points? and 12 Reasons Bullet Points Are Bad (in Trial Graphics or Anywhere) and Why Reading Your Litigation PowerPoint Slides Hurts Jurors and The Redundancy Effect, PowerPoint and Legal Graphics. They are wonderful resources all by themselves. To overcome the problem with bullet points, consider alternative ways to present information. Instead of listing out your main points in bullet form, try using visuals, storytelling techniques, effective data visualization, and memorable quotes and anecdotes to drive your message. Above all else, never read your slide aloud

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Trial Graphics and PowerPoint

PROS: PowerPoint is a versatile tool that many lawyers use for creating trial graphics. It can be used to create visual aids that can help present arguments in a clear and concise way. While there are many tools available for creating trial graphics, PowerPoint is a popular choice due to its ease of use, flexibility, and accessibility. Using PowerPoint for trial graphics can help simplify complex concepts and make arguments more compelling. For instance, you can use PowerPoint to create timelines, charts, graphs, and other visuals that can help illustrate key points. This is particularly important in cases where multiple parties, complex facts, or technical details need to be presented to the jury.

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Our blog has been thriving for nearly a decade, accumulating over a million visits during this remarkable period. As we approach the official 10-year blog anniversary next year, we also celebrate the impressive 28-year milestone of our entire company. To stay in tune with our readers' preferences, we meticulously monitor the traffic of each blog post, enabling us to identify the crème de la crème. Without further ado, here are the top 100 most engaging blog posts from the past ten extraordinary years. 5 Questions to Ask in Voir Dire The Top 14 Testimony Tips for Litigators and Expert Witnesses Ways to Identify the Jury Foreman: Insights on Leadership and Influence Lists of Analogies, Metaphors and Idioms for Lawyers 14 Tips for Delivering a Great Board Meeting Presentation 15 Tips for Great Customer Service from the Restaurant Industry

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by Ken Lopez Founder/CEO A2L Consulting Over the past three decades I've heard hundreds of lawyers say, “I won't need many graphics because my case is not very visual.” Usually, that's followed up with “It's really a case about documents” or “It’s a dispute over who said what,” or “It’s just about what someone's actions were.” Fortunately, there’s a clear and straightforward answer to these objections: What drives the need for visuals in a case is not the underlying subject matter. It’s your audience's need to see things as well as hear them. In effect, every case is a visual case today. So instead of wondering whether your case lends itself to litigation graphics, you should probably be asking yourself whether you are substituting your judgment about the need for visuals for your audience's core psychological needs. Remember, lawyers tend not to be visual learners themselves, while many or most jurors will be in that category. One trial lawyer said this particularly well in this short video about why litigation graphics are important.

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by Ken Lopez Founder/CEO A2L Consulting We recently asked three top trial lawyers about what makes them so successful in the courtroom. They are quite a successful trio. One of them is Bobby Burchfield of King & Spalding, whose bio notes, “Mr. Burchfield has never lost a jury trial.” That's an especially impressive track record as he's been in practice more than 30 years. So what does winning take? Well, as we saw in previous clips from the same interviews, these trial lawyers believe, as we do, that storytelling is at the heart of building a successful case. Furthermore, as all demonstrative evidence consultants and most trial lawyers will tell you, combining persuasive visual evidence with persuasive oral communications produces a truly synergistic persuasive effect. Persuasion is a rare circumstance where 1+1 really does equal more than 2. Of course, as we have long counseled, just because something is projected on a screen does not make it helpful at a trial. In many cases, as in the case of lawyers who use bullet points to summarize their arguments on screen, some visuals actually make you less persuasive. If yours looks like the image here, then you are certainly doing more damage than good. For more on why that's true, please see our articles 12 Reasons Bullet Points Are Bad (in Trial Graphics or Anywhere), The 12 Worst PowerPoint Mistakes Litigators Make, and Why Reading Your Litigation PowerPoint Slides Hurts Jurors. In this three-minute clip, we hear from the best of the best -- Bobby Burchfield of King & Spalding, Rob Cary of Williams & Connolly, and Patrick Coyne of Finnegan. And we certainly don't hear them talking about the power of bullet pointed lists. Instead, you hear these trial-tested litigation experts talking about the use of animation, the value of timelines, and the importance of showing real evidence to ground your argument in credibility. Burchfield said, “People learn both by seeing and by hearing, and if you can combine those two in one presentation, the more sensory perceptions you combine, the better off you are. Timelines are powerful persuasive tools. A timeline shows from left to right who did what and to whom. Sometimes you show in a timeline above the line what your client knew and below the line what your client didn’t know. It can be a powerful story to show contrasting events that were going on simultaneously. This helps the jury put the entire case into context.” Cary noted, “When a jury can see something that visually displays the evidence, that cloaks you in credibility. That’s critical in earning their trust.” Coyne pointed out, “People are predominantly visual. Most people need an image. They need it to tie things together. Ken [Lopez] and his people did a fantastic animation for us. The judge turned to the other side and said, ‘If I credit this animation, you lose. Do you know that?’ It was a very compelling animation. That’s what I mean by appealing to the judge by giving him a visual that explains what you’re trying to say.” Watching lawyers like these work is a pleasure and their teams score high on our assessment of what makes a great trial team. Other articles related to persuasion in trial, the use of bullet points, and trial presentation best practices from A2L Consulting: Don't Use PowerPoint as a Crutch in Trial or Anywhere 6 Trial Presentation Errors Lawyers Can Easily Avoid 12 Reasons Bullet Points Are Bad (in Trial Graphics or Anywhere) 10 Criteria that Define Great Trial Teams How Much Text on a PowerPoint Slide is Too Much? 5 Ways to Maximize Persuasion During Opening Statements - Part 4 Free A2L Consulting Webinar: Persuasive Storytelling for Litigation The 12 Worst PowerPoint Mistakes Litigators Make 12 Ways to SUCCESSFULLY Combine Oral and Visual Presentations The Effective Use of PowerPoint Presentation During Opening Statement 16 PowerPoint Litigation Graphics You Won't Believe Are PowerPoint

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by Kenneth J. Lopez, J.D. Founder/CEO A2L Consulting Lawyers love words. Lawyers love words on slides - tons of words on slides. Some lawyers think that the more words they use on a PowerPoint litigation graphic, the better. They are wrong. Actually, using too many words on a slide will dramatically damage your effectiveness. This damage is not aesthetic in nature. This is not about your look and feel. It is scientifically proven damage that affects how well you inform and persuade your audience. Indeed, it can be said the higher your slide's word count, the lower your persuasiveness.

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by Ryan H. Flax, Esq. (Former) Managing Director, Litigation Consulting A2L Consulting We have discussed four important tips for maximizing persuasion during your opening statement (See parts 1, 2, and 3). The last tip is the use of demonstrative evidence in connection with the statement. You need to be aware that most people, other than lawyers, are visual preference learners. Most lawyers, in contrast, are auditory or kinesthetic preference learners.1 Most people teach the same way they prefer to learn – so lawyers typically teach by lecturing, since that is most comfortable for them. But this strategy does not help with the majority of jurors, who would prefer to be taught visually, at least in part. So bridge this courtroom gap with demonstrative evidence, including litigation graphics.

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by Ken Lopez Founder/CEO A2L Consulting A2L Consulting offered its first free litigation webinar just 18 months ago. Since then we've conducted six litigation focused webinars, all free, including: Storytelling for Litigators, Patent Litigation Graphics for Litigators, Making Expert Evidence Persuasive, Persuasion & Opening Statements, Using PowerPoint Litigation Graphics and What Mock Jurors Always Say. These webinars may be viewed on our site anytime, and they have been viewed nearly 10,000 times already. I find that amazing. Since each new webinar is a bit more popular than the one that came before it, it's a bit hard to tell which topics are really the most popular. So, I thought it would be helpful to ask our 6,500 blog readers what topic we should cover in our next webinar (likely May or June). Finding a good webinar presenter will not be difficult. On the A2L team, we have expert jury consultants, trial-tested litigators, experts in persuasion science, the top consultants in visual persuasion and many categories of litigation and persuasion experts.

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7 Things You Never Want to Say in Court

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by Ryan H. Flax (Former) Managing Director, Litigation Consulting A2L Consulting

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