Number 5 of 21 for 21 – Timeline Savvy
Continuing our exploration of the use of timelines to tell a party’s story (key events in legal disputes), it occurred to me that the use of visuals (hyperlinked or not) is being taught and used with children as young as elementary school. That realization multiplies the myriad questions we already ask when diving into the task of creating a visual aid for this setting. The process of developing shapes to represent events in time is in itself a component that comes with hidden benefits. Sometimes the best graphic is the one not ultimately displayed, because its development aligned team members and deepened understanding along the way. Many times over the years, I have realized that true comprehension of facts and stories is the result of building them – creating visual representations of what we think is in our heads.
Despite a small portion of the population thought to experience aphantasia (the inability to form mental images in the mind’s eye thought to affect 1-5% of the population) the rest of us might well benefit from the practice of visualizing. If one is headed to court in a complicated civil dispute, doing so may even help those people who are unable to visualize.
Additionally, we often suggest to clients presenting complicated stories to juries that it helps to demonstrate a level of interactivity with the evidence, in measured steps revealing the information (visuals accumulating as the case story unfolds). This can be done electronically (animation clicks) or tactilely (magnetic or foam core panels on an exhibit board).
A quick search of the internet will result in varied and dynamic samples of the ways this idea is being taught to children.
Results from a “timeline design” search provide many varied examples:
Given our growing preference for bullet points over committing to the time it takes for deeper consideration, consider adding a layer of sophisticated and savvy attention to the esthetic (along with rehearsal and interspersed evidence references). This will ensure confidence and increase your chances of a favorable outcome when delivering an opening statement or closing argument in your next trial.