Humans tend to remember pictures, not data. 72 hours after listening to information, most people retain only 10%. 72 hours after seeing information, most people retain 65%. In other words, if you want your audience to remember what you tell it, show it a picture.

This goes for client meetings as well as jury trials. If you do not already have a whiteboard, get one. If you have one, spend a few minutes turning the information you want to convey into a chart or graph. I have found that even just localizing information on the whiteboard (“which option do you prefer, the one on the right, or on the left?”) helps clients process information so that they are more comfortable with their decisions later on.

Chart Wars: The Political Power of Data Visualization | Sunlight Foundation (thanks, Mom!)

  • Laura L. Thatcher

    It’s great to see that there is science behind what I have always done. I have always used pictures and symbols to explain concepts to my clients because they help me focus their attention and when you explain that a trust is like a treasure box (and draw a picture of the box), clients go from nodding their heads, saying mmhmmmm, to telling me ok, I get it now (even though a minute before they told me that they understood!).

  • Nena Street

    Excellent video. As a regulatory compliance attorney, I use pictures in much of my work. Distilling complex regulatory regimes to flowcharts and other pictures has proven effective in helping clients understand and comply with their regulatory obligations. It is also makes me a better lawyer (you really have to understand something to turn it into a useful picture) and is a lot of fun.

  • Andy Mergendahl

    Great presentation! I couldn’t help but note how a well-placed F-bomb added an extra punch to his remarks.