Number 7 of 21 for 21 – Timeline Readability

Timeline graphic

Building upon the tips discussed in post number 6, file this under “every little bit helps.” Readability of any demonstrative aid used in legal presentations can be increased by tiny, valuable and often overlooked considerations. It is particularly important to the flow for any speaker relying on the use of these visuals in courtroom presentations.

I regularly see attorneys squeezing as much as possible into an exhibit board design or PowerPoint chart, seldom putting themselves in the seats of their audience. If there is white space on a slide, they tend to fill it in with important information. If entries on a timeline don’t fit, many merely flip the alignment and assume a juror will easily read right-justified text in entries that may or may not be crucial to their timeline story. So much packing of information happens that I have taken to calling their self-designed PowerPoints “briefs in color.” Additionally, typography matters more than one might think in developing visual strategies for the courtroom.[1]

While good visual design begets more than one successful and effective solution, some rules of thumb still generally apply that boost effectiveness. Consistency in design is paramount when presentation software options expand and current hybrid/remote conditions contract our communications options. Readability is a concept that requires empathy. Considerations will be best made from the seat of the intended audience, not from the pressured presenter scrambling to produce the perfect PowerPoint in order to advocate for a client under the same pressure.

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[1] Matthew Butterick, Typography for Lawyers, 2nd Edition, (Jones McClure Publishing, 2010)