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A picture is worth a thousand words…

Wednesday, December 16, 2009
posted by Rita Handrich

Pictures communicate tremendous amounts of information in digestible and comprehensible bits of visual data. Sophisticated concepts can be broken down into something anyone can understand.

Cutting $100M from the federal budget: See, for example, this classic YouTube video of what it means that Obama is going to cut $100M from the federal budget. Wow. It seemed a lot bigger when I heard it than it did when I saw it.

Lifetime risk of maternal death in developed vs developing countries: Don’t use pie charts—they don’t work well when trying to depict small numbers. Instead, use bar charts and columns to show the difference between 1 in 8,000 and 1 in 76.  Look how clear those hard-to-visualize numbers become!

Risk of being killed by animals: What are the most dangerous creatures in the world? Would it be sharks, bears or lions? Surprisingly, no. The most dangerous creature is the mosquito (killing 3M/year)!

infographic global warmingPictures stay with us. They summarize information for us in a succinct and clarifying fashion. We remember them and integrate the learning we take from them into our stored memories and experiences.

When you have a technical, complex, or simply dry and tedious fact pattern, a picture (also known as visual graphics, infographics, or demonstrative evidence) can help jurors wade through the hours and hours of testimony in words and have a visual in mind as they consider the evidence. We’ve seen the powerful graphics and the weak. Images that hit and efforts that miss.  Invest money in visual evidence and test it in pre-trial research. You’ll get invaluable feedback on the user-friendliness of the visuals and your message will be communicated clearly and carried into the deliberation room by each juror.

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