OK- First – a short story: Often times I’ll go into a law firm and discuss their upcoming cases and the best way that their exhibits should be displayed. Naturally, I’m hoping to leverage the skills of our presentation department together with our litigation assistance and our presentation rental facilities at VR Legal Resources. Typically, if we’re brought in from the beginning, we’ll design the presentation around my software program of choice "Visionary" since, in my opinion, it encompasses the best features of CTSummation, Trial Director and Sanction which are all excellent programs in their own right but possess one commonality : a very steep learning curve.
While demonstrating our trial presentation prowess to a large firm here in Orange County I asked if they had ever considered using visual demonstratives other than PowerPoint to simplify their presentation in court. One of the junior partners quipped "we have a program called Trial Director" and then he kind of trailed off. "That’s a terrific program" I replied, "how do you like it?" Cold silence followed. Finally, the same junior partner said "Well, we’ve never used it; we bought it and installed it but no one had the time to figure it out".
Moral of my short story: If you aren’t using it, it isn’t any good!
Last month I stumbled upon a new program called ExhibitView making bold and brash claims that it was "The most powerful presentation software..allows users to present with ease, using multiple integrated technologies,( yada, yada, yada). In my line of work you hear a lot of this so I watched their 2 minute video intro and downloaded a 30 day demo from their website and proceeded to pick it apart and see what all the ranting was about……
(Oh – Full Disclosure – let me add right here that my opinion is based solely on the trial version of the product.. I have not received any compensation for what I’m about to state.)
Simply put: "WOW!"
You’ve Gotta Try This!
If your firm has ever balked at using a software presentation program my advice is to go download ExhibitView and try it now. Granted, I have the advantage of working with several different programs in our line of work and I’d have to admit that I’m fairly well versed in the different applications they all have to offer – but – this is probably the easiest program I’ve ever used. Read the info on their website and see all of its impressive capabilities.
"Learning Curve"? This one is FLAT ; if you can work a word processing program and know the basics of "drag and drop" you’re home free.
The program downloads all the tools you need to get started and then actually configures your computer to prepare it for your presentation; it really does support multiple integrated technologies – practically ANY document or image type as well as supporting an arsenal of audio and video formats.
The program is one of the most intuitive programs I’ve ever used – truly "Idiot Friendly" (and I mean that in a nice way) – I can safely say that you will not be overwhelmed with techno-babble, just concise, easy to understand, simple instructions. (Additionally they (ExhibitView) appears to have fast, online tech support however, I didn’t have any issues so I didn’t test that part out).
I imported a text synchronized video deposition created with another application (Visionary – but, it could just as well been from YesLaw , Trial Director, etc) and it imported seamlessly into the control pane. From there I discovered that I could easily "edit on the fly" the video if needed.
I then imported a variety of documents (PDFs, Excel Spreadsheets, Word Docs) and found that I could easily enlarge any portion of the document, create annotations (again "on the fly"), highlight and then print them out. The same could be said for JPEGS, GIFS, BMPs or PNGs.
I didn’t get the opportunity to see how many documents I could squeeze into a presentation, the most I’ve accomplished with Visionary is something in the 300,000 range, but I was told that the program could hold as much as a hard drive would allow and I don’t see any reason to doubt that claim.
Obviously the other presentation programs all have their places – each has applications which may be similar or unique to a situation and each of them will have their "fans". They all have additional features that you may or may not need and all of the existing programs perform incredibly well - if you use them.
(NOTE: If you’re happy and content with your exisitng solution by all means stick to the familiar, every program has its "comfort level" (even PowerPoint!) -but, if you’re technically challenged this is worth a try.)
For those of you who are still contemplating wading into the 21st Century but still reluctant to because of some old horror story you heard about some poor attorneys presentation "melting down" in front of the jury and the panic and woe that followed – GET OVER IT!
This is the program you should at least try. If you can’t master ExhibitView in 30 minutes give me a call so our firm can create your presentation for you!
To my fellow presenters: keep your eye on this program. In fact, go and download a trial copy and let me know what you think - I believe you’ll be quite impressed but I’d like to get your thoughts and comparisons in the next few weeks and maybe revisit the topic.