TIP 2: "TELL AND SHOW" RATHER THAN "SHOW AND TELL."
One of the dangers of allowing your presentation to become a "Visual Argument" is that your story risks taking a backseat to visuals that distract the jury from the human message that you must deliver in argument. We all recognize the powerful influence that the sense of sight has to jurors. Eyes allow us to evaluate, to size up , and to confirm what our ears are hearing. Some people are eye-learners. Some are ear-learners. But the role of visuals in jury argument is to help you get your point across or tell your story. The primary focus in argument is always your spoken word. Visuals are supplementary. Visuals illustrate, support, clarify, choreograph, confirm, and position your oral story.
Trials typically attempt to reconstruct a previous event that was not otherwise recorded. If the event in question was fully filmed and recorded, then the lawyer's job at trial would be to play the tape. If the tape was unambiguous, there wouldn't normally be much to argue about. Think of those early days when our parents or teacher would read us a fairy tale. The story was about something that happened "Once upon a time, far away, and long ago." Like trials, the events in fairy tales were handed down by word of mouth. The words of the participants in the story were the key. The pictures just made it more concrete. If we looked at the pictures, we didn't have to imagine what this guy Rumpelstilskin looked like. One look and now the character had a face. But that was just icing on the cake. What Rumpelstilskin did and why he did it was the heart of the story, not how he looked. We learned about what happened by listening to the words. So it is with trials. They are mainly word stories. The visuals are there to make the story more real. We lawyers are the raconteurs (storytellers) who recount the tale, first in opening, then in direct and cross, and finally in jury argument. We use visuals as a medium to complement the words of our message.
Telling trumps showing. Visuals in argument serve the purpose of putting forms, faces and perspective into the story of your case. But, don't rely on a glitzy "show and tell," where the show (the visuals) becomes more important than the tell (the word pictures that you paint). Rely on TELL and SHOW where your visuals are there to strengthen your words. Visuals come in many forms, from flip charts to PowerPoint. In argument, keep them simple and graphic, e.g., timelines, witness inconsistency charts. Use visuals as tools that work to underscore and illustrate your spoken words. The "telling" in jury argument is more important than the "showing." The "showing" compliments the "telling" by clarifying it and making it more memorable.