Thursday, October 4, 2007

Advice for Technophobes

Have you been reluctant to incorporate technology into your courtroom presentations? This month's Bar Bulletin has some helpful tips for getting started: Christian R. Hazelmann, Overcoming Techno-Phobia in the Courtroom, Bar Bull., Oct. 2007.

One of the best lines:

Another good tip is to start small — a Magic Marker and a white board in the hands of a skilled attorney can work wonders.
Not only does this make sense based on presentations I've witnessed, but Mr. Hazelmann also mentions a study that supports it:
In a recent research study, three separate groups were tested on the same set of facts presented by different methods — orally, on hard boards for some of the key points, and utilizing the latest in graphics technology with computerized presentation and delivery. The marked difference was between the first and second groups. It didn’t matter nearly as much how the visual materials were presented, simply that there were materials presented in a more engaging and visually stimulating manner.
A little tangent... In making the point that people are used to having lots of visual stimulation, the author comments
When the now-familiar CNN news format was first introduced, it received terrible reviews. Viewers said the screen was much too busy, horribly cluttered and swore it would fail dismally since there was simply too much information to take in. Fast forward to today’s teenagers who will sit at their computers conducting multiple IM dialogues, listening to music, texting messages on their cell phones, all while “studying” their history books for homework. Since we can’t get away from technology, we might as well embrace it, adopt it and use it to our advantage.
That rang a bell for me. I remembered a study where a professor showed students CNN with and without the "crawl" (the headlines scrolling across the bottom of the screen). The students who had the crawl remembered 10% fewer facts than those who watched without it. Well, speaking of memory, I found that it was hard to find the article even though I was pretty sure of the general point. One reason: I "remembered" that the study was by a psychology professor and it was really by two journalism professors. Oh, well. Anyway, here's the article: Noah Shachtman, "The Crawl" Makes You Stupid, N.Y. Times Magazine, Dec. 11, 2005. One lesson: even though jurors (like everyone else today) may be used to lots of visual clutter, that doesn't mean that visual clutter is the best way to communicate with them. Sure, use technology, but more is not necessarily better. As Mr. Hazelmann, a Magic Marker (or a generic felt pen) can work wonders.

No comments: