Your PowerPoint needs a STAR

Over the past few years, I’ve delivered a CLE presentation called “Why your PowerPoint presentation sucks, and how to fix it.” In a nutshell, I’ve argued that slides based on the principles seen a web sites like Presentation Zen are far more effective than slides full of bullet points and dozens of words.

If you really want to give a good presentation to your client’s board of directors, you need to come up with one more thing: a STAR. What’s that, you ask? STAR is the acronym for Something They’ll Always Remember. Nancy Duarte, a leader in presentation design, talks about it in her book Resonate. Give the audience Something They’ll Always Remember.

The best example of this I can think of comes from the late, great Steve Jobs. He was a master presenter, and he understood the concept of STAR well. When Steve introduced the MacBook Air several years ago, he picked up a manilla inter-office mail envelope and slid the laptop out of it.

The audience gasped (or maybe it was just me gasping that I recall). Yes, Steve could have shown photos of how thin the laptop is, but instead he put it into the context of something we could all grasp. It’s small enough to fit in an inter-office mail envelope.

Nancy Duarte gave a TED presentation late last year that was just published on the TED web site. In her 20-minute talk, she explains how great presentations can be analyzed and mapped against a single shape. She looks at the presentation where Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. She also shows us where Jobs gave the audience the STAR in the iPhone presentation. I highly recommend taking the time to watch this.

Finding the STAR in a legal presentation may not always be easy. In fact, I would say in most instances it’s pretty damn hard. But you need to look for it and use it. If your presentation to a board or CEO hopes to explain why the business should hire your firm, you want your pitch to stand out. A powerful STAR will do that for you—and it implies that your firm will have the same powerful persuasion in the courtroom. Find that STAR and use it—in the boardroom or in the courtroom. You’ll be glad you did.


Cloud computing for lawyers

I will be speaking at the St. Joseph County Bar Association‘s biennial Local Practice Seminar this Thursday, November 10, on the topic of cloud computing for lawyers. Chuck Leone and I will cover some basic information and the ethical issues raised by cloud computing. If you’re in the area, stop in to say hello.

iPad Apps for Lawyers presentation materials

This past week I spoke on a panel of attorneys and consultants about mobile apps for lawyers and law firms at the Indiana State Bar Association Annual Meeting. Much to my dismay, I learned that the written materials I submitted didn’t make it onto the flash drive given to attendees. Somehow, the materials didn’t make it onto the web page either.

So, to help anyone who might stumble across this post after attending the presentation, here are the written materials I prepared.

Overall, we had a very good panel discussion. Kranti Kambhampati and Cindy LeClaire of Web Perseverance opened my eyes to the next wave that lawyers will need to confront: mobile apps for attorneys/lawfirms and the need to have .mobi web sites. Derrick Wilson showed that the Android platform is no slouch when it comes to mobile apps for attorneys. Steve Terrell proved that there are plenty of apps for the iPhone that are useful for lawyers in the office and on the road. (Steve also proved that evening that he shows no mercy on the go-kart track.)

I used my time of the presentation to demonstrate TrialPad. (I probably sounded like a shill for the company, but I’m nothing more than a huge fan of this app.) I think a couple people in the audience were more than impressed by TrialPad’s abilities.

For the next couple of weeks, new posts here are unlikely as I’ll be cramming some work in before leaving for vacation. I will continue to keep my eyes peeled for new useful apps and share more information that may be of interest.