Take the Mona Lisa. Who hasn’t gazed into the eyes of this mysterious female and wondered what she’s thinking, what da Vinci thought as he painted her? And yet, although the questions are many, the image speaks for itself and words seem unnecessary. The mood is clear, the emotional effect visceral. Words would only muddy the waters.
And remember the last time you stood in front of an exhibit at the science museum, the one depicting the passage of time since Earth’s formation? Remember that small segment which represented the age when humans were introduced into the mix? Would the words, “humans are thought to have appeared a mere 200,000 years ago, while the Earth is said to be millions of years old,” produce the same effect?
Now let’s switch tracks to something less beautiful, yet even more powerful, the photos of a crime scene. There’s a reason those photos are introduced to a jury. The reason has to do with the power of images that transcends all words.
Courtroom visual aids introduced to juries in civil cases can be just as powerful. These visual aids could include annotated photographs from a forensic engineering inspection, technical illustrations showing the motion of a complicated mechanism, or scale models that put very large or very small objects into perspective.
We live in the Visual Age, there’s no denying it. And studies show that attention spans just keep getting shorter.
So the next time you want to get your message across, don’t tell them what you want them to know, show them. Give them something interesting to look at!
Posts Tagged ‘courtroom visual aids’
| Can there be any question about the fact that credibility is at the heart of every lawsuit? There is no argument that attorneys must appear credible to the jurors and that the evidence they present must be deemed credible. And those that are called to the stand to act as witnesses or experts must, undoubtedly, also be credible. So what makes for a credible expert witness? It may not be what you first think, for although the best expert witnesses demonstrate an uncanny natural ability to teach, they are, by and large not PhD’s, that is to say, they are not professional teachers. Jim McElhaney, senior editor and columnist for Litigation, the journal of the ABA Section of Litigation and author of the article, “Put Simply, Make Your Experts Teach,” which appeared in the May, 2008, ABA Journal may say it best:
In other words, the most effective expert witnesses:
1) Are down-to-earth … people who the jurors can relate to;
2) Are able to convey their message in everyday language, not the jargon of their profession, because people cannot accept as truth what they don’t understand;
3) Are effective at explaining things and enjoy demonstrating to others how things work;
4) Are able to tell a story, paint a picture, whatever it takes to enable the jurors to visualize the point;
5) Will know how to use visual aids, that is, demonstratives, to make the case facts come alive, because jurors need to “see” the facts.
In short, your best expert is someone who is an artist capable of explaining the facts, however technical, in the most visual way possible.