Tag Archives: Presentation

The Verdict Is In: Trial Presentation Software vs PowerPoint

Trialdirector by Ipro

PowerPoint has long been used by attorneys in trial, but is it the best option out there when taking your argument to the jury? An important factor during trial is holding the jury’s attention, relaying the facts of the case in a clear and effective manner and presenting evidence in the most persuasive way to convince the jury to side with your client. While PowerPoint can be a great choice for opening remarks and closing arguments, there is so much more that goes into a compelling case.

Dynamic Presentation

With the technology-heavy world we live in, it’s no surprise jurors expect a certain amount of that tech to follow them into a courtroom. The plethora of law focused TV shows like Bull and CSI helps to perpetuate that idea, so much so that there’s a term for it, The CSI Effect. As courtroom technology becomes even more pervasive, jurors will continue to expect a sophisticated argument during trial.

While it may not be realistic to implement the level of tech in fictional television dramas, it is possible to move away from foam boards and the limitations of linear presentations like PowerPoint and embrace the dynamic presentation.

Dynamic presentation lets you jump to different exhibits, zoom in on particular points in a document to draw the jury’s attention, and display synchronized deposition videos with a transcript of text for jurors to follow along. As you move effortlessly through the evidence, the jurors won’t be able to take their eyes or attention off of you.

Captivate the Jury

The course of a case can shift during trial with unexpected events. Preparation for the unexpected builds juror confidence in the evidence presented. Don’t lose them searching through slides while the expediency of your argument is diminished. Instead, adjust in real time seamlessly adapting to changes. Newly admissible evidence? It’s easily available. A witness answers differently on the stand than in the deposition? Bring up their synchronized video depo for a surefire impeachment. The jury’s attention will stay focused on the details of the case, not the logistics of attorneys sorting through case files.

The Transition

Worried about making the switch? Getting started using TrialDirector is easy. With an intuitive user interface, you can get documents loaded and start putting your case together in a snap. Or grab the resources in MyIpro to help you set up your case. Once you’re ready for more, training is available to unlock the technology’s fullest potential. And if you aren’t quite ready to walk away from PowerPoint completely, that’s okay. You can convert your PowerPoint slides to PDF and upload them to TrialDirector and take advantage of the robust tools available.

While PowerPoint has its place in the courtroom, its features are limited. Why not use a software program specifically designed for trial to prepare, deliver, and ultimately, wow the jury? When you’re ready to take your trial presentation to the next level, you’re ready for TrialDirector 360.

Learn more on our website.

Join us at the Ipro Tech Show April 29 – May 1 for training, hands-on workshops, and networking. Learn more and register today.

Ipro Announces Dates for the Ipro Tech Show, formerly Innovations

Ipro Tech Show

Tempe, Ariz. Jan 7th, 2019 – Ipro Tech, LLC, a global leader in eDiscovery software technology, announced today the 2019 dates and name change for its popular annual user conference. The new name, Ipro Tech Show, reinforces the company’s dedication to simplifying the process from within eDiscovery to Trial litigation software technology. The show provides attendees insights into quality industry knowledge, legal technology futures, productivity drivers, education and training. The Ipro Tech Show will be held April 29 – May 1, 2019. 

“It is an exciting time for Ipro and the show will provide us the platform to celebrate our future with our customers and industry friends. What differentiates Ipro from our competitors is that we offer eDiscovery software, services and support – bundled as a solution. Ipro eDiscovery is deployed the way you want it, Cloud, On-Prem or Desktop,” said Ipro CEO Dean Brown.  

Ipro is excited to announce that there will be new tracks, workshops, and more hands on opportunities for users to interact with the Ipro team. We are also pleased to announce the return of the Sedona Conference to the 2019 show. The Sedona Conference sessions are among over 50 other informative breakouts that cover eDiscovery and Trial Presentation best practices. As always the show is designed to help users get maximum use of their Ipro software technology partnership.  

In addition to the conference and training sessions, Ipro is hosting a Monday night Welcome Reception, a chance to meet and connect with Ipro professionals. Tuesday night brings a buffet style dinner, entertainment, networking opportunities with industry peers and an evening of fun with giveaways and prizes. The show wraps up midday on Wednesday. Details on Keynote speakers and a detailed agenda are to be announced. 

The Ipro Tech Show 2019 is held at Talking Stick Resort in beautiful Scottsdale, Arizona, which also offers visitors two golf courses, a spa, several live entertainment venues and a casino. Additional details and event registration can be found at https://techshow.iprotech.com  

Ipro – Simplifying the Process from Discovery to Trial.  

Can’t wait for April to see us? Come see us at Legaltech New York at booth 302 January 29-31. Set up a meeting with us to learn more about how Ipro can be your legal technology partner.  

About Ipro Tech, LLC 

Ipro is a global leader in eDiscovery technology used by legal professionals to streamline discovery of electronic data through presentation at trial. Ipro draws upon decades of innovation to deliver high-performance software solutions and services that significantly reduce the cost and complexity of eDiscovery.

3 Tips to Hold the Audience’s Attention During Your Next Trial Presentation- Part 3

Ipro tips

In the previous installment, we reviewed the power of repetition to capture the jury’s attention. If you missed it, be sure to check it out. In this next and final post in the series, we’ll touch on a few more powerful techniques you can use in the courtroom to take your presentation to the next level and be the attorney the jury remembers.

Use Attention Getters
They’re called attention getters for a reason. You don’t want to bore your audience by talking for a long time, especially with a heavy topic, so try changing things up 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 other presentation types can still apply. Just tailor them 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 clip from a video testimony
• Use a prop or creative visual aid that you can hold or use to demonstrate what you’re talking about

Conclusion
Think about what you would want a presenter to do to keep you engaged during trial. What techniques would work best to not only maintain your attention but help you understand the many moving parts of a given case?

Fortunately, the days of file boxes of boring paper exhibits are gone (almost). It’s now possible to use technology combined with compelling storytelling techniques to present your argument to the jury in a way that connects in this modern world. Now, who doesn’t want that?

Learn more about TrialDirector 360 and how it can help you by visiting our website.

3 Tips to Hold the Jury’s Attention During Your Next Trial Presentation- Part 2

In the previous installment, we discussed the initial approach to capturing the jury’s attention. If you missed it, be sure to check it out.

In this next post, we’ll go over a few more important aspects for not only engaging the jury, but best practices to ensure they understand and remember the critical pieces of your argument so when it comes to deliberation, the outcome is in your client’s favor.

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 also help with an organized and efficient trial prep process.

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. Imagine simply typing a number into your laptop and up pops an important document, image, or video you want the jury to see.

Then, remember you can leave the document or image up. Think about how valuable it is having an image on a large screen for a long period of time as you’re relaying the critical parts of your argument. As you speak, the jury 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. You can harness the power of video tools to make an impact on the jury. Impeaching a witness? Imagine the jury’s reaction when you question the witness about signing a document, who then answers ambiguously, but then you produce a video clip of their deposition where they contradict the answer they just provided. Pair that up with the Tear out feature of their signature on the document in question. The jury won’t forget what they saw or you.

Later, if you find the need or wish to drive your point even further, all you need to do is type in that number you assigned again, and the document or image appears just like it did the first time. We cannot overstate how powerful it is using video tools, document management and trial presentation software to supplement your presentations.

Found these tips helpful? Tune in next week for the final tip in this series.

If you’re ready to take your trial presentation to the next level, read more about TrialDirector 360 here.

3 Tips to Hold the Jury’s Attention During Your Next Trial Presentation- Part 1

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. The short attention span reality doesn’t change when someone is selected for jury duty, so it’s the attorney’s job to be as engaging as those phone notifications waiting for them when court is over. As courtroom jurors called on to decide fate, where they’re expected to sit in a jury box and listen to hours of presentation and testimony, holding their attention to key facts, is critical. And let’s be real, it’s rare any of them to want to be there, let alone take the initiative to focus on the task at hand for an extended period.

Of course, any given case is 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 hanging on your words? General presentation tips are out there, but we want to talk about things that work particularly well when in the courtroom, especially when using trial presentation software.

Put Yourself in the Jury’s Shoes
Yes, the jury has a civic duty to listen to the facts of the case and issue a decision on the outcome, but that doesn’t mean you automatically have their undivided attention. So, what can you do to deliver the information you need the jury to hear, understand, and absorb to persuade them to agree with your argument?

Trial is all about persuasion, but it’s also a balancing act of maintaining legalities, stating the facts, not irritating the judge, and ultimately crafting a passionate compelling presentation that intricately and definitively proves your argument.

One tactic to crafting this compelling presentation is understanding where your jury is coming from in terms of the case. Representing a pharmaceutical case where the testimonies and information shared will be heavily science based may lead you to be a teacher to your jury. How do you help them understand the importance of the details and jargon without zoning out? How do you keep them engaged, informed, and interested? How do you ensure they understand without being condescending?

If you are covering a criminal case involving an accident, perhaps using a technique to engage the jury’s emotional core is the way to go. Help them relate to how the situation would impact their lives if it happened to them or a loved one. This works regardless of whether you’re prosecuting or defending.

Likeability is important. Remember jurors will start forming an opinion on you from their first interaction, so wooing them begins in the jury selection process. From the beginning, jurors will gravitate to who the better storyteller is. They will engage with who speaks their language best. They will believe who best presents the facts of the case in a way they understand. Wow them with visuals, videos, and dynamic presentations. Entertain while educating. An entertained audience is an engaged once.

Found these tips helpful? Tune in next week for the second tip in this series.
If you’re ready to take your trial presentation to the next level, read more about TrialDirector 360 here.

How to Get 10/10 on Your Next Trial Presentation

Some people just have it.

The confidence, the perfect rhythm and speed of talking, the right vocabulary and stories…everything to make a stellar presentation. They could be talking about the importance of tying your shoes with two loops instead of one, and you would still leave the room feeling inspired to be a better person.

But what about those of us who just don’t have it? You’ve spent weeks and months collecting evidence, annotating exhibits, and constructing your argument, but without a good presentation, all that effort might not matter.

In addition to having stellar trial presentation software, here are some tips to help you engage the jury and give a worthwhile presentation:

  1. Be Yourself. Yes, it’s cliché, but it has power. You have a unique personality, whether that is outgoing, soft-spoken, serious, light-hearted, confident, or more reserved. To be effective and confident while you’re presenting, you need to do what comes naturally. Talking too slow can be just as distracting as talking too fast. The jurors may not have law degrees, but they can tell when you’re faking enthusiasm or solemnity. Your strongest asset is to be natural.
  2. Don’t give them the whole pie. Imagine your favorite dessert, whether that be mint brownies, hazelnut cheesecake, or raspberry pie. You eat one bite of that dessert, and that delicious spoonful leaves you craving more. Now imagine how you would feel if you ate a whole giant pan of that dessert in one sitting. You would probably be sick to your stomach and ready to swear off sugar for the next 6 months. The same concept applies to your presentation; your videos, depositions, and annotated exhibits are great elements, but it’s possible to have too much of good thing. Make sure to give your jury a bite of the case instead of overwhelming them with too much information.
  3. Practice. You know the saying, “Practice makes perfect”. Practicing can be mundane and repetitive by nature, but the more you practice, the more confident you’ll be. Your presentation will flow smoothly, and you’ll be better able to handle any last-minute revisions or curveballs that get thrown your way during a trial.
  4. Don’t let technology control you. Your technological tools are meant to enhance your presentation, not replace you as the presenter. Ultimately your words are going to have the biggest impact on the jury, not the annotated exhibit on the screen. You provide the necessary commentary and explanations to give meaning and purpose to the evidence; without you, the jury sees a random collection of videos and images. Don’t underestimate your influence in the courtroom, and make sure the technology doesn’t overpower your argument.
  5. Involve your audience. The jurors in the courtroom have experiences and circumstances that strongly impact their perspectives and decisions. If you truly know your audience, you can communicate in a way that helps them to see the personal relevance of the trial. If one of the jurors is a middle school math teacher with three young kids, present in a way that connects his circumstances with your case.

Comment with any tips you use to have a successful trial presentation!

Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or learn more about TrialDirector and how it can help you by visiting our website. Already have TrialDirector? Check out one of our training courses.

Understanding Databases and How to Avoid the Dreaded “No Image Available” Screen in Trial Presentation

Here’s a story you may be familiar with:

Dan, a young and ambitious attorney, strides confidently into the courtroom. Sure, he’s a little nervous, but he has practiced this presentation several times, and he knows he can convince the jury in his favor. Plus, he’s using powerful trial presentation software to help him out. What could go wrong?

The opposition, judge and jurors arrive, and it’s finally time for Dan to begin. He brings up the first image of his presentation on the big screen and starts to talk. He starts out strong. He already feels a rhythm. The jury is hanging on his every word, but then disaster occurs. He clicks to the next image in his presentation, but instead of the picture he’s expecting, a different image with the words “No Image Available” dominates the screen.

 

No Image Available
The dreaded “No Image Available” screen.

Dan fumbles for a precious second or two, but then he gets back on track. He’s embarrassed, but he breezes over it. He makes a quick joke, sees some of the jury chuckle, and clicks to the next image. Thankfully, the next image is there and he quickly gets back to his rhythm. It was just a hiccup, he’s not ruined.

He continues clicking through his images, building up steam for the big reveal at the end, but it happens again.

“No Image Available”

Dan is devastated, his face is flushed red. He can see members of the jury rolling their eyes. The judge is glaring at him. Dan quickly finishes up his remarks and sits down, fuming over what just happened.

Where did the images go? They were all there when he practiced yesterday, how did they just magically disappear?

What went wrong?

Dan fell victim to a misunderstanding of how the technology he was using worked. But before we get into what exactly happened to Dan, let’s go over some basics of that technology. Specifically, databases.

Understanding Database Basics

Whether Dan knew it or not, he was using a database to reach and work with his case documents.

Folders and files in a database
Databases help store and organize metadata, or information, about items.

In the most basic terms, a database is an organized collection of metadata, or in other words information, that describes items within the database. As it applies to Dan and other attorneys using trial presentation software, a database is a sort of metadata repository of all the images and other documents that Dan puts into it.

However, it is important to note and reiterate that the database doesn’t hold the actual images themselves, but the metadata or information about those images: Where the images are located, what they are named, when he entered them into the database, and any other information Dan decides to enter.

Aside from just being trial presentation software, trial preparation and presentation applications also serve as minor document management systems which often use a database. That’s what you’re actually working with when you import files into a case, organize them, and mark them up.

Working with a database is a little different than you might think because even though you’re working with the actual files, those files are not housed within the application itself.

If it helps, think of using a database like using an Elmo document projector or some other projection machine. The image that is being projected onto the screen or wall is not the real, original image. It is a reference to the real image being projected on the Elmo.

In a database, the files are only referenced. Therefore, if the referenced files are ever moved, it breaks the application’s connection.

See where we’re going with this?

When Dan opens an image in his application, the application is using the information in the database to find the image and show it to him in the document viewer.

That is one of the many things that are misunderstood about databases. When you import a file into these systems, you’re basically just telling the program where to look to find the image. If that image is ever moved, then the application won’t know where to find it.

Check out these quick tips on naming files to make working with a database easier!

Benefits of Databases

So, why do these software tools use databases? Why not just house the files right in the application so that you never have the “No Image Available” problem?

We’ll approach this question conceptually. A given case has the potential to have several thousand documents, even tens of thousands, in various states of progress. Not to mention the many many hours of deposition and evidence video. While we don’t recommend you import all your case documents into your trial presentation tool, you’re going to want to at least import several hundred that might be relevant to your presentation at trial.

Any one image file can have a large file size on its own. One video, like a deposition, can be several hours long, making the file size much much larger than an image. These large sizes present several problems.

First, it would take a large amount of time to actually get the files into the software. Then, once they are there, you need a system to keep track of all the information being processed along with each document. Having to manually look for each file as if you were looking through the Windows file explorer for each of the thousands of documents in your case would eat up a lot of precious time.

We are extremely aware of the precious time of attorneys.

Instead of all that noise, we can use a database. A database puts all the information you need about a document right in front of you in an easy-to-read manner, letting you get back to what matters: strategizing, developing arguments, and winning your case.

A database makes everything much faster, more efficient and gets you what you need. Since it only references the files that are already on your computer, the file size when importing documents becomes much smaller and much faster to import. It also makes tracking all the information related to each file much easier and provides the possibility of adding information as a document goes through the case process.

In short, databases make working with loads of case documents much more streamlined and efficient, speedily getting you the information you need. All it takes on your part is a little more basic knowledge of what a database is and how to approach using one.

What about Dan?

To sum up, after a file is imported into a trial presentation tool, if somebody moves that file, it breaks the path the database uses to find it and the application can’t find the file anymore, resulting in “No Image Available”.

So what happened to Dan? Remember him? Turns out, even though he had practiced and made sure his presentation was ready to go, his paralegal, Rachel, was still working well into the night on the case. While she worked, she had to move some files around on the computer. Some of those files she moved were referenced in Dan’s presentation software.

See the problem?

Yep. You guessed it. Moving the files broke the reference his application needed to find them, so when Dan tried to call them up in his presentation, he got the dreaded screen.

There are a couple solutions we recommend you use to help avoid experiences like these, but hopefully, this article gives you a better idea of how managing documents works in most trial preparation and presentation applications.

Have you seen the “No Image Available” picture come up during a presentation? What did you do to get through it?

Let us know on social media! You can connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

Learn more about TrialDirector and how it can help you by visiting our website. Already have TrialDirector? Consider participating in one of our training courses.

4 Tips to Hold the Audience’s Attention During Your Next Trial Presentation

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.

Woman Using Phone
In this age of tech, people are easily distracted and have difficulty focusing their attention.

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

Conclusion

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?

Let us know on social media! You can connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

Learn more about TrialDirector and how it can help you by visiting our website. Already have TrialDirector? Consider participating in one of our training courses.

The Top Three File Formats to Use with Case Management and Trial Presentation Software

Trial Director 360

Working with documents on the computer is usually much easier than working with physical paper, folders, notebooks and file cabinets. When you’re on the computer, you don’t have to get up out of your chair, maneuver around the stacks of paper cluttering your office, pull out the right file folder, and sift through everything until you finally find what you are looking for. All the while, precious minutes are floating by.

But as you’ve worked with digital documents, you’ve probably come across a lot of file types you are not familiar with or that you do not fully understand. Although we will not discuss every single file format option available to you, we will talk about some of the best options we’ve seen that make working through your case much more efficient and easy, especially when working with case management and trial presentation technology.

First, a word about a couple different file types you’ll come across:

Native File Types vs Image File Types

Native files are in formats that are understood by the original program a given file was created in. For example, an original document created in Word would have a “.doc” or “.docx” file extension. For WordPerfect, the native file extension is “.wpd”. These types of files can only be opened in the program they were created in unless another third-party program specifically creates functionality around opening those types of files.

Because of the information above, trying to always use native files like Word can result in a frustrating experience since the file cannot always be opened everywhere. Or, if it can, it can be slow, awkward, and can result in a frustrating experience.

That’s why it’s usually easier to work with image documents. Image documents are exactly what they sound like. They’re pictures. And pictures can usually be used most everywhere. While you do lose some ability to edit the text of a document, images are very responsive and can be easily managed and annotated.

Native file formats vs image file formats.

Plus, you probably shouldn’t be changing the text of documents anyway…

For our purposes here, we will mostly talk about common image file formats.

PDF

PDF stands for “portable document format”. PDFs are pictures that look like printed paper but appear on your computer.

While other image file formats only allow one page or picture per file, one of the main benefits of PDFs comes from their ability to house multiple pages into one file. For this reason, they are much easier to store and organize when dealing with multi-page documents, and they can be annotated just as easily as any other image file types.

Multi-page vs Single-page
A multi-page document vs a single-page document.

In some cases, you may want to use native files if you want to find the metadata of your documents, like the author and the date a document was created, to help you build the story of your case. Even in these cases, after you’re done pulling the information you need, it is still beneficial to convert native files to PDF when preparing your case for trial with presentation software.

However, PDF isn’t the only image file format you can use. There may be cases where the PDF option isn’t available, or it’s simply easier to use another format. In that case, we suggest you use PNGs.

PNG

The PNG file format provides a single image of a single picture or page of a document. While some programs may allow you to organize several pictures into a multipage document, PNG files do not provide such organization on their own like a PDF does.

PNG stands for “portable network graphics”. This file format was designed to make transferring high-quality images across the internet easier. As such, PNGs have become very popular.

If you’re not going to use a PDF, the PNG file format is great for storing high-quality photographs of evidence, especially if you plan on annotating those photographs and saving multiple versions of the photo.

With other file types like JPEG, TIFF, and GIF, you do not get as much quality out of your image, and at a relatively low file size, as you would with the PNG. Also, the quality of the image can degrade with each newly saved version using these other formats over PNG.

All in all, using a PNG is often a better option.

We suggest only using one of these other image file formats if you have a specific reason for doing so. For example, you may want to use the GIF format for an animation, since GIFs inherently support animated images, whereas with PNG you would have to muddle with image settings to do so.

MPEG 4

We have an entire white paper on the MPEG-4 video format. If you want more detailed information, we suggest you download the whitepaper. But, in general, MPEG-4 is the best file format option when working with video.

Using MPEG-4 for your video and audio files provides a better overall experience for you and everyone else you work with.

It retains a high-quality display and sound which is important for reviewing evidence and especially presenting the video to an audience.

It works with most every video-supported software today, making it much easier to transfer the files to clients or other parties in a case. It is also compatible with tablets and other mobile devices. With MPEG-4 you don’t have to worry about running it through a program to change it to another supported file type. It’ll just work.

It also produces a smaller file size, which saves on the cost of transfer as well as the cost of storage. When working with the number of hours that can add up in a single case, that saving is significant.

We’ve gone through some of the most convenient file formats, but you may be asking yourself how you can switch from one file format to the other. Let’s talk about it.

How Do I Change from One File Format to Another?

Changing a file format will be different for any type of file you are working with.

If you’re working with a native file, you can simply open the program the document was created in, and save it as one of the different file types mentioned above. For example, you can open your document in Word, click the File tab, click Save as, choose where you want the new file to go, then select the dropdown that shows all the different file types.

Word File Format Options
File format options in Word.

If you’re working with an image, you can use an image editor program to save the image as a different file type using most of the same steps as above. For example, if you want to change a JPEG image to a PNG, you can open the JPEG in Microsoft Paint (it comes free with Windows). Click the File tab, click Save As, and choose the file format you want.

When it comes to video and audio files, changing the file types isn’t quite so simple. It is usually easier to create the audio or video file in MPEG-4, to begin with. But if you didn’t do that, you’ll need to convert the file to MPEG-4. There is a litany of software options, many of which are free, that you can use to convert to MPEG-4. We suggest you search the internet for such options, talk to a trusted tech-friend, and choose the best option for yourself. Once you choose the option you want, converting your file to MPEG-4 should be quite easy.

Conclusion

Overall, when working through the documents of a case, there are only a few file formats you should worry about that will provide all the essential options you need:

  • PDF
  • PNG
  • MPEG-4

If you go outside these file formats, you should have specific reasons for doing so, like collecting metadata from native file formats or wanting to easily show an animation with a GIF.

What file formats do you use when reviewing documents for a case and why?

Let us know on any of our social media accounts! You can connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

What Is the Best Trial Presentation Software?

TrialDirector 360

Let’s reframe the question. What does the best presentation software do? More importantly, what do you want it to do?

Woman giving trial presentation
The best trial presentation software is an all-in-one tool.

The best trial presentation software needs to have instant document and deposition retrieval, and instant video playback. It should allow side-by-side document presentation and multiple display options as well as a variety of highlight and annotation tools that you can customize.

The best trial presentation program does all these things and more. It organizes. It helps you prepare. It makes your presentation engage the audience.

From the beginning of the case, you gathered and analyzed data: documents, video, depositions, photographs. Maybe you also developed animations, re-creations, or flash files. Now add the Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoints you created that explain key aspects or your opening statement. How do you manage such a multitude of items?

You use an all-in-one tool that lets you do all the things described above. You use TrialDirector.

TrialDirector is designed for and excels at trial presentation, but does much, much more. Let me show you how.

Organize

One of the main keys to success for any case, even before a trial date is set, is organization.

First, set up your case files on your computer or network drive in a way that is secure and easily accessible for you. Then, put those files and data into TrialDirector which will guide you through the case creation and import processes. It’s that simple.

Graphic of organizing and managing documents
TrialDirector helps you manage and organize documents.

Once inside, your files are automatically sorted by document, transcript, and multimedia. Looking for a PDF? Go to Documents. Want to search transcripts for a keyword? Go to Transcript Manager. Forgot where you put the surveillance video? Go to Multimedia.

With all your data now in one location, getting started is easy. Create a witness workbook and drag case items into the folder where you assign exhibit numbers and apply exhibit labels with a few clicks of the mouse. Next, export the workbook contents to a single PDF that you can email or print then generate an exhibit outline of the workbook to use in court.

And still, there is more. Create exhibit lists in Word, apply redactions, search, print, and add identifiable names to all your files for fast recall.

Now, let’s tackle transcripts…

Use robust search features and a full word index to quickly and easily find specific words and phrases. As you review transcripts, highlight testimony that relates to specific areas of your case with issue codes. As issues are applied, the transcript is color-coded drawing your eye to areas of importance. But what if you need to submit excerpts to the judge? TrialDirector provides several print and report features so you can share only the information you want.

Prepare

Case preparation, without utilizing the right tools, can be tedious, especially when working with physical files. Coupled with the fact that teams often assume their case will settle and won’t even go to trial, they find themselves in trouble when it does. Unprepared, they have to scramble to get a presentation together, putting in extra hours and adding to the stress and cost of the whole situation.

TrialDirector cuts out the mundane, time-consuming aspects of case preparation, and allows you the freedom to focus on what’s most important – preparation and strategy.

Here’s how.

After searching, issue coding, and organizing your transcripts, you’ve decided what portions you’ll show in court. No need for a DVD player and definitely no need to fast forward or rewind to find the parts you want to play. Use TrialDirector to make clips of the excerpts you wish to present. With several options, making clips is as easy as a highlight, right click, select… and voila! Your clip is made.

Now let’s talk about one of the biggest time-saving features: the visual clip editor. It’s a wave file to fine-tune the start and end points of a clip down to the millisecond. In just a few minutes, you can distil hours of deposition testimony to only the clips you need. And, like issue codes, print a report of your clips which gives you the total run time – so if the judge gave a strict 30-minute time limit to play clips, you can use every second you’re allotted and know exactly how long your video will take.

Getting back to your documents, let’s start prepping them for court. Keep in mind, you want annotation tools that you can use ahead of trial as well as at trial. We refer to this as ‘pre-treat’ vs ‘on-the-fly’ annotation. Either way, annotations focus the jury’s attention on a specific part of the document or photograph. Remember, a jury member may get distracted or sneeze or glance around the courtroom. When they look back, they’ve lost track of the three pertinent sentences you were discussing. However, if those sentences are highlighted, the jury will know exactly where you are.

With the ability to pre-treat, you can apply exhibit labels, stamps, arrows, circles, squares, redactions, highlights and more ahead of trial. Save the annotated documents as page revisions, retaining a ‘clean’ original image as well as your marked-up copy.

A word on the iPad…

Do you want to use an iPad in court? Use our free TrialDirector for iPad app! This is a standalone application so you don’t need TrialDirector software for it to work, but use them together and you have the best of both worlds. Make a TrialDirector for iPad workbook in your TrialDirector case (it’s as easy as a right mouse click), drag and drop the material you will use, and export. TrialDirector will create a folder that you can load into TrialDirector for iPad.

Present

You made it. It’s your first day in court and you are organized and prepared. Launch your TrialDirector Presentation, take a deep breath, and begin…

Remember those witness notebooks? They’re in your presentation toolbar. Press the green (or the spacebar on your keyboard) and the first item in the workbook is displayed. Press the arrow again and the next item in the workbook replaces the image on the screen, press it again and the third item replaces the image, and so on…

When you reach the long letter that you knew was coming and the jury is squinting at the screen, you’re ready. You select a zoom tool, grab the paragraph you want the jury to focus on with your mouse, and it is projected full screen so they see exactly what you are referring to. Even better, the letter remains in the background and you scroll through it while zoomed, moving line by line through the page. Once you finish with the letter, press the green arrow and continue through your witness workbook.

There are so many display options (there are nine different display zones!) and tools (and you can change the colors) in TrialDirector Presentation that it’s impossible to cover them here. The most common and popular display options are full screen (one image, centered) and two images, side-by-side. And if you only learn two annotation tools for on-the-fly presenting, stick to zoom and highlight.

So, if you’re nervous or think presenting with TrialDirector is hard, just remember, even the most seasoned TrialDirector professionals stick to two display zones and two annotation tools.

So, What Is the Best Trial Presentation Software?

The best presentation software helps you organize, prepare, and present. It files your documents and transcripts. It creates exhibit lists and reports. It helps you create a presentation plan of attack. It does more. It’s TrialDirector.