Worth a thousand words: testing visual aids in pretrial research

projectorWe’ve highlighted the role of storytelling in the trial process before, but storytelling is more than verbal, it should be visual as well.

Today’s trials are filled with modern technologies that just 30 years ago could not even be predicted.  Yet, the use of these technologies and its impact on jurors is unpredictable.

The visual storytellers of Hollywood, with their depth of expertise in movie making, still use screening rooms, testing whole movies and even alternate endings with audiences.

According to The Science of Courtroom Litigation: Jury Research and Analytical Graphics (Gallant, Solomon & Esser):

“Research shows that jurors and other triers of fact want to hear a persuasive story – one that is supported and bolstered by a visual story that engages them and convinces them that one story line is more plausible than the alternative.  Although a clear fact pattern is crucial to developing this story, a simple listing of case facts will not suffice.  Only by building a rich, engaging story through developing case themes that resonate with your audience members and presenting this story in a multimedia fashion that will direct and hold the viewer’s attention – in a way that is inherently tied to case strategy – can the story successfully be told, and received, by your audience.”

The power of the visual can not be understated, but what visuals?  And, how can it be used most effectively?

Testing graphics, visual displays, and methods of presentation is critical to determining the best course for courtroom success, which can be accomplished with focus groups and pretrial research.

Consider this:  more than 40-percent of juries are now made up of generation X and Y jurors and that these individuals are more inclined to respond to multi-sensory stimulation.  Looking at today’s icon-driven android and iphones, its not hard to understand why.  Society at large has embraced computer technology at a staggering rate.  Online access to information has become standard in the myriad smartphones, tablet computers and laptops that virtually every person has access to in today’s wired world.

Younger jurors particularly understand and retain more information when it is presented in a method that extends beyond just a verbal presentation, so the place for technology during trials is secured.

Success during trial means appealing to this societal technological trend by incorporating one of effective visuals into your next trial.  Using it in pretrial research presents an ideal opportunity to work out the kinks in the technology and gauge the response from potential jurors.