Presentation Zen

Jurors present the very most difficult audience, they usually don’t want to be there, start with the belief that everything you do is a lie geared to influence the outcome, hate to waste time anymore than necessary and yet must be taught about very difficult legal, medical, and technical issues in the stilted classroom that we call court. Although I knew enough to embrace elimination of bullet points, irrelevant and ridiculous .gif images, superfluous and magical slide transitions etc. the ability to push things onto a big screen can even lead those who know better astray. In a soft tissue injury trial a few years ago, the complete set of medical records were scanned and available for presentation. When conducting direct examination with the treating physiatrist, each record was popped onto the screen in an attempt to show (1) consistent complaints of pain (credibility); and, (2) sticking to a treatment and physical therapy plan (mitigation). About half-way through, I glanced at the jury box. The jurors not sleeping looked alternately peeved and bored. Lesson (one I already knew, but ignored): Just because technology enables you to do something, doesn’t mean you should.

Although Zen attitude didn’t seem to help the Lakers win, it can certainly have an impact on your presentation skills. Presentation Zen is a blog run by Gary Reynolds and will undoubtedly bring a huge amount of help to your trial presentation skills. Start here, here, and here for a riotous compare and contrast between Bill Gates/Microsoft and Steve Jobs/Apple approaches to presentation. A few pithy points:

The Zen aesthetic values include (but are not limited to):

  • Simplicity
  • Subtlety
  • Elegance
  • Suggestive rather than the descriptive or obvious
  • Naturalness (i.e., nothing artificial or forced),
  • Empty space (or negative space)
  • Stillness, Tranquility
  • Eliminating the non-essential

Whether you are using Circus Ponies Notebook, Keynote or another piece of software, those who ignore the rules of good presentation etiquette do so at the risk of, at best, boring their audience or, at worst, fostering hostility toward you and your client.

Presentation Zen

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