Art of Facts

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  • What You Get When You Mix Timelines and George Orwell: Design, Intellectual Honesty and Control
    by Stacey Manela Originally published in The Art of Advocacy: Online with ACT of Communication August Issue 2011 Orwell said, “Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.” There is a certain curiousness to this quote when he speaks about controlling the past. It…
    Written on Tuesday, 03 April 2012 19:48
  • Secret Weapon Series #3: Videotaped Depositions—Pointers for Best Playback in Court
    As we all know, video in court can be a magnet for any number of possible failures and subsequent migraines. Here are some suggestions to help prevent disaster — because the most critical witnesses somehow always seem to have the worst videotapes. Here are some ideas to achieve success with…
    Written on Tuesday, 03 April 2012 19:45
  • Secret Weapon Series #2: Pitfalls of Powerpoint
    PowerPoint has become a standard, but not a very good one. Litigators should use caution when preparing critical presentations and avoid the software’s inherent problems. PowerPoint slide shows can shift focus to the presenter rather than the content of the presentation. The suggested structure of bullet point lists with multiple…
    Written on Tuesday, 03 April 2012 19:43
  • Secret Weapon Series #1: Getting the Most out of Data-Driven Graphics
    Statistical graphics are made to reveal data in a more sophisticated manner than spreadsheets or traditional formulas. These types of tools are commonly used in the damages portion of a case to demonstrate or repudiate values to the audience. These graphics should be done precisely with clarity, keeping in mind…
    Written on Tuesday, 03 April 2012 19:38
  • The Art of Facts Team
    The Art of Facts Team: Stacey Manela This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. During her seven year tenure with a Houston law firm Stacey earned a reputation for hard-hitting information graphics in high-stakes litigation and effective client communication materials in the mass-tort arena. In 1997, upon a strong desire to create an impact in the…
    Written on Tuesday, 03 April 2012 19:33

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Secret Weapon Series #2: Pitfalls of Powerpoint

PowerPoint has become a standard, but not a very good one. Litigators should use caution when preparing critical presentations and avoid the software’s inherent problems.

  • PowerPoint slide shows can shift focus to the presenter rather than the content of the presentation. The suggested structure of bullet point lists with multiple size fonts and indentions can distract the viewer and cause them to become preoccupied with the layout and seek it’s linear progression from slide to slide.
  • The nature of the software encourages cryptic bullet points. Don’t be lured into thinking these are effective. Bullets are generic, and often times overlook critical elements of grammar that are necessary to enforce relationships between facts or to make assumptions. Don’t confuse simplicity with a diluted message. Studies have suggested it takes 50 PowerPoint slides to generate the same amount of text found on one page of a Physicians Desk Reference. Consider handouts whenever possible.
  • Templates and the software’s own default settings facilitate poor use of typography and charting features. The application provides many features such as transitions and animations that create additional distractions to your content. Bullet point strip-tease acts, block dissolves and poor choices in clip-art, type and color can only make the bad, worse.


The overbearing slide templates provided standard with Powerpoint make it very difficult for the viewer to decipher and retain your message.


Created by Peter Norvig, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

A good presentation in the courtroom will stay true to the content and message you are trying to deliver and keep the audience focused on the facts. Graphical displays can be used, but sparingly and with specific intent, like teaching or explanation. Being recognized as the one who is promoting understanding in the courtroom will not only bring you credibility, but success.



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