You pride yourself on being a tech-savvy attorney, saving time and streamlining your professional life with the latest apps, smartphones and computers. So it completely makes sense to incorporate your iPad into your opening arguments, right? After all, it is lightweight, easy to use and allows you to jazz up your arguments with the swipe of a finger.
But is your iPad really an asset during opening arguments?
Setting aside the issue of possible technology failure (we’ll get to that later), there are valid reasons to skip the iPad. These reasons have nothing to do with technology and everything to do with your audience.
Have you ever witnessed someone using an iPad to check people into a concert venue or take an order at a restaurant and then thought “Oh, they are using an iPad for that. Interesting, I wonder…?” Now, if you as a tech-savvy attorney are having that internal dialogue, imagine what people unfamiliar with technology (the people perhaps sitting on your jury) could be thinking when they watch you swiping your iPad screen. They are focusing on the technology when they should be paying attention to what you are saying. Exactly how much of a distraction is your iPad?
That is really what it comes down to – distraction. Anything that takes away from your opening presentation is bad for your case. In the thirty seconds that a juror spent pondering what was happening on the tablet you are holding, they have missed two or three of your key points. Is that potential loss worth the slickness of swiping left for your next slide? And that is only what might happen if everything goes right.
Now consider a technical glitch. If you swipe left for that next slide and your iPad doesn’t respond as you expect, you are immediately switching roles from persuasive advocate to IT troubleshooter. Once you start focusing on your iPad to resolve the issue, you are no longer connecting with your jury. Your presentation has derailed and all eyes are on you. What impression does that leave?
The truth is that every reputable presentation technician runs two computers in the courtroom, controlled with a simple switch. If something goes wrong with one computer, a seamless transition to the functioning computer means no disruption to a carefully planned presentation. No single point of failure is the rule for any technology specialist worth their salt, and following it precisely has saved many of us over the years.
The bottom line is that your iPad has a valuable place in your professional life, but opening arguments is not one of them. Let someone else handle the technical side of the presentation so you can focus on your audience and your case.
Leave the iPad on counsel table, and stay connected with your jury.