No legal presentation is ever like another.
Sometimes attorneys handle dry, complicated intellectual property matters; other times, emotional personal injury cases.
But in many years of making dynamic presentations for all kinds of hearings and audiences, our team has learned that there are a few important steps that will ensure your slides have the weight and power they deserve.
1. Don’t Be Generic
Ugh. You know that jurors have seen a standard-issue PowerPoint template a bazillion times.
When using generic templates with little personality, you risk losing your audience’s attention. Instead, try some simple customization and color to make them stand out and hold attention. Curved edges, color contrast, gradients, and better fonts for more readable slides are a few simple ways you can customize your presentation.
…Don’t Worry, You Can Still Print Them
I know what you may be thinking – if you’re worried about printing slides with a dark background, PowerPoint does let you print in pure black and white, which is great for markups and saves on toner.
2. Make Images That Stand Out
If you’re not sure whether to go with a dark or light background, consider your content. For example, photos stand out more on a dark background.
In a bright room, text tends to be easier to read on a light background.
And if your content varies throughout the presentation and includes both text and images, consider using what we call an “accent box” – basically a block of white on a darker background. This works best for the text-heavy slides.
3. It Starts With a Great Title
Another important consideration for templates is the slide title. Aligning titles to the left margin ensures that they will start in the same spot every time, which makes them much easier to follow for readers than center aligning. Try to keep titles on one line, but if you must go onto a second line, make sure the top line is shorter than the bottom. Putting a soft return (shift+return) where you want the title to break onto the next line makes a big difference in readability.
4. Better Typography = More Readable Text
A presentation full of text slides can definitely get boring for audiences. But even the best presenters need the occasional bulleted list slide.
To keep your bullet point slides readable, be as concise as possible. One line per bullet is preferable, but if you must go onto two lines, it helps to have proper line spacing (leading) set up so that your ideas do not blur into a mass of text. Also be sure to avoid leaving a single word on the second line (we call that a widow).
Keep your font size large enough to read, but not too large. A good rule to follow is 46-52 characters per line (1.5 to 2 full alphabets). If you only have a couple bullet slides, consider using icons instead of plain circle or square bullets for additional visual impact.
5. No More Boring Icons and Stock Photos!
If you are struggling to find imagery for your presentation, don’t default to using cheesy clipart! Websites like the Noun Project, Vecteezy, Creative Commons, and Brands of the World can help you find great icons, stock photos and logos without licensing fees. (Pay attention to licensing – some icons and photos may require attribution.)
6. Test the Equipment
Our last, but perhaps most important tip – take a test run. It’s devastating to slave away on a presentation only to see it completely washed out and unreadable on the courtroom projector. Try to get into the courtroom during set up to test your slides on the equipment that will be used during your presentation.
If you can’t use the actual machine, test it on the worst projector or monitor you can find, just to be safe. This is especially true if your usual computer has a high quality monitor. For example, there is always a big difference between what we see on our MacBook screens versus typical projector screens.
We’re Here to Help With Trial Presentation
Most of these are simple tips, but taken together, they deliver professional, polished presentations that make sure your audience hears what you’re trying to tell them. For more help with your presentation, schedule a consultation with our services team. We can make compelling graphics, videos, and more. We can even come to your trial to run the slides and manage the technical aspects of presentation, so that you can focus on delivering a winning argument.