With the internet at our fingertips, it seems like people, in general, can’t hold their attention as long as they used to. Most can’t go a few seconds without pulling out their phone to check the latest updates, pics, or videos. These same people are called on to decide fate in a courtroom as a jury where they’re expected to sit in a pew and listen to hours of presentation and testimony.
It’s rare for any of them to want to be there, let alone take the initiative to focus on the task at hand for an extended period.
Any given case can be important to the people involved with it directly, but to the people coming in on the jury, it’s not really part of their world. Jurors have their own worries and life issues that don’t stop just because they were selected to be part of a case.
So how do you get and keep a jury’s or any audience’s attention?
There’s a lot of general presentation tips out there, but we want to talk about things that work particularly well when in the courtroom, especially when using trial presentation software.
1. Put Yourself in the Audience’s Shoes
Have you thought about where the people you’re presenting to are coming from? Sure, you may have been part of the jury selection process. But that was to determine what impressions a particular jury member would bring with them into the case.
Attempting to find and cater your presentation to your audience’s interests provides a clear direction for you as you prepare. Otherwise, your shooting in the dark and hoping something sticks.
If you don’t have a team of jury consultants to do it for you, here are some examples of questions you might ask yourself as you prepare your presentation and witness examinations:
- Where do the members of the jury come from?
- What about their origins influence their tastes?
- What influences their decisions?
- What are they more prone to listen to?
As very general examples, if your audience is mostly coming from a small town, perhaps they appreciate a more “personal” approach. Maybe they want to hear more about the story or character of the people involved in the case. Or, perhaps they would be more likely to listen if you just presented yourself while limiting any other visual aids you might bring in.
On the other hand, if members of the jury are from a large, modern city, maybe they would be more interested in hearing the direct facts and would appreciate you just getting to the point without tip-toeing around.
In either situation, maybe your think it would be better to surprise the jury and get their attention by doing something they are not used to.
The point is to think about where your audience is coming from and mold the tools and content you use to fit their compulsions and interests.
No two presentations should be the same.
2. Repeat Repeat Repeat
In any presentation, if you want your audience to remember what you’re talking about, one of the best tools in your arsenal is to say and show the thing you want them to remember several times.
There’s quite a bit of science to back up the power of repetition. Basically, every time you let your audience see, hear and, best of all, feel what you want, you strengthen the synapses firing in their brain around that thing.
You should know what you want your audience to focus on well before trial starts. In fact, you should decide what that thing is very near to the case outset and then build your strategy around it. Doing this not only helps with knowing what you want your jury to focus on, but it can make you much more efficient in your case all the way to trial.
Don’t forget the tools that help you with repetition. With trial presentation software, you can quickly display items you want to keep fresh in the jury’s mind any time you want. No digging through folders and paper to try to find the right document or image. You can set it up to where all you have to do is type in a number on your computer and the document, image, or video you want will immediately appear on a big screen.
Then, remember that you can leave it up there. Think about how valuable it is having an image on a large screen for a long period of time. The jury won’t forget it. As you speak they can look and see exactly what you’re talking about. You can zoom in on the image, mark it to focus the jury’s eyes on where you want them to go, and even have the image show side by side with something else that you want to show.
Then, if you ever want to show it again, just type it in and it appears just like it did the first time. We cannot overstate how powerful using document management and trial presentation software to supplement your presentations.
3. Set the Tone
No matter what you’re presenting, you should decide how you want your audience to feel. Then, create an environment with your presentation to create that setting where they are most likely to feel what you want.
For example, if you want your audience to feel sad, you may want to use a softer voice as you tell a story and present accompanying images.
If you want your audience to feel excited, you could talk faster or create a rapid-fire presentation where your audience is shown pictures quickly one after the other.
In the end, just try to make sure that what you are doing in your presentation isn’t hindering the tone you need to get your point across.
4. Use Attention Getters
They call them attention getters for a reason. You don’t want to bore your audience by talking for a long time, so sprinkle some flavor throughout your time in front of them.
When working with a jury, litigators cannot interact with their audience like presenters in normal presentations can, but the attention and focus strategies for normal presentations can still apply. They just have to be tailored for trial.
Use the following presentation mechanisms to put a little variety and spice into your presentations and examinations.
- Tell an engaging story
- Use a rhetorical question that makes them think more critically about the case
- State a shocking or interesting fact the audience may not be familiar with
- Use a quote from a prominent figure or even something from your case that illustrates your point and sets the mood
- Show an enthralling photo or video from the case
- Use a prop or creative visual aid that you can hold or use to demonstrate what you’re talking about
Think about what you would want a presenter to do to keep you engaged with what they are presenting.
Try taping yourself as your present, then go back and watch how you work. Do you bore yourself? Do you talk in a monotone? Do you have good eye-contact? Are you talking too much without anything meaningful to supplement what you’re saying?
Television and movies these days are extremely engaging. Why do you think that is? One reason is that three seconds doesn’t usually go by before something exciting or unexpected happens in the scene. Directors and filmmakers are constantly developing strategies to hold the audience’s attention. It might be a good idea for you to take some notes on how they do it.
How do you keep your audience’s attention when performing a presentation? What strategies have worked for different types of audiences?