After months of quarantine and social distancing, most of us are pretty familiar with remote work! However, as virtual hearings and trials become increasingly common, many participants are still feeling unsure about best practices for their virtual trial presentation. In this article, we’re going to provide tips for the different stages of trial presentation and offer advice to help you tackle common challenges.
Let’s get started!
When you’re participating in a virtual trial, organization and preparation are required for success. To begin, you’ll need to examine your own expectations. After years of TV and movie depictions of the inside of a courtroom, you’re probably subconsciously expecting virtual trials to look like a polished multi-camera production. The reality of virtual trials is very different!
You may not have your own wardrobe and lighting team, but there are some basic steps you can take to ensure a seamless presentation. Do your best to set up good lighting that does not backlight you or cast significant shadows. Ring lights are great for this! You can get a second monitor for your computer, which will be particularly useful as you monitor participant and speaker views during your presentation.
Practice makes perfect! You may need to set up multiple practice sessions with your team so that they can familiarise themselves with remote presenting. These meetings will also help you confirm internet connectivity and give you the opportunity to practice working with all of your equipment at once. (Don’t forget to leave time for a practice session with the court so that you understand any unique requirements they may have.)
Unlike the dramatic courtroom scenes of prime-time television, you probably want to plan out all of your exhibits in advance. To keep yourself organized, create an outline each day that lists the exhibits you’re presenting. Some courts will have a full-time ‘IT bailiff’ or technical lead who can help you manage back-end logistics, setting up break rooms, and coordinating jurors. Be sure to share your exhibit outline with this person. Although you won’t be in the same room, a well-written outline will help them follow your cues more closely.
During the organization process, consider the file sizes. Zoom limits file size to 512MB for sharing purposes, so you should be prepared with an alternate file-sharing method for any exhibits that exceed the limit. Courts will often disable Zoom’s breakout room and chat functionality, so you should consult with the judge in advance if you plan to rely on it. Be sure all parties can access and connect to a group file sharing platform such as Dropbox, Box, or Google Drive.
After you’ve planned out your exhibits and trial strategy, the last step is to ensure the security of the overall proceeding. Be sure to update Zoom regularly to get the latest security features. Lastly, consider using the “waiting room” functionality for the trial. This method allows you to prevent Zoom bombing, even if your trial is open to the public.
Thanks for reading! We hope these tips have given you some insight into how you can improve your virtual trial presentation workflow. If you enjoyed this article, let us know on social media!
Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns. At First Legal, we’re here for you from File Thru Trial™!