Imagine a world where you no longer have to lug around your clunky, 7 lbs. laptop computer from the office to court to your house and back again. Imagine a world where you are free from that literal baggage. Well that world is here. With modern technology, it is now easy to visually present complex concepts and ideas to audiences both large and small. In fact, today’s courtrooms are filled with people effectively using mobile devices and tablet computers as means of presentation technology.
Unfortunately, most of those people are jurors and not the trial attorneys who are speaking to them. Because these devices are designed to search and find information quickly, and to be extremely easy to use, some attorneys are already incorporating them into every facet of litigation – arbitrations, hearings and for trial itself. But you needn’t be tech savvy to incorporate presentation technology into your trial practice. In fact, you only need to remember a few simple things to ensure that you are master of your technology, and not mastered by it.
1. Know Your Presentation Technology. Most users know how to quickly turn on a tablet and start reading emails, playing a video or searching the web, but not much thought is given on how to set background features like brightness of the screen, when your screen locks up after inactivity or turning off onscreen notifications. Have your IT staff (or your son or daughter) walk you through these settings. These features are extremely important and knowing how to navigate them will help you avoid distractions in front of the jury.
2. Know Your Applications. Before stepping into the courtroom, make sure you are well versed in the applications you plan to use. Just like most PC users, most users of tablet computers only use a small portion of the features available to them. Whether you are using a PDF viewer or an exhibit/video presentation app, make sure to learn all of the “ins and outs” and shortcuts of the particular program.
3. Know Your Presentation. It is common for most attorneys to rehearse presentations and even recite them aloud before delivering them to a jury. What is less common is for those presenters to rehearse with the mobile device they will be using in court. With a PC and a remote mouse, not much can go wrong, but when you are using your fingers to navigate, it’s very easy to stumble around the device. Don’t forget that the jury is watching all of these distracting moments. Practice helps to minimize them if not eliminate them completely.
4. Know Your Court Display System. Since all tablets use a mini HDMI port to output, the quality of the image is outstanding. With that said though, most courtrooms still use projectors or monitors with VGA connections. Converting HDMI to a VGA signal is not difficult, but make sure you learn how to setup the cables ahead of time. Also, since these cables are small and delicate, make sure to position them on the podium with plenty of space and try not to move them around during your presentation.
5. Know Your Plan B. Even though tablets are quite dependable, there will always be situations where something goes wrong with your presentation technology: you run out of battery power or you aren’t able to connect to the Internet to download a file. Always have a backup plan.
Remembering these important rules of thumb will ensure that you can present your case as effectively as possible. So cast off those old laptops; you have nothing to lose but your extra baggage.
By: Adam Bloomberg, Managing Director -Visual Communications and John Wilinski, M.A. – Consultant
This article won the LitigationWorld Pick of the Week award. The editors of LitigationWorld, a free weekly email newsletter for litigators and others who work in litigation, give this award to one article every week that they feel is a must-read for this audience.