The Power of Storyboard Visuals in Trial Arguments: A Litigator's Secret Weapon

Oct 11, 2023 11:14:12 AM by Amanda Panagakis, PhD.
Screenshot 2023-10-11 at 10.51.31 AM

In the world of litigation, where the battle for justice is fought through words and evidence, the importance of effective communication cannot be overstated. Trial attorneys play a crucial role in persuading judges and juries to see the facts from their perspective. One powerful tool that has gained significant prominence in recent years is storyboard visuals. These visual aids provide attorneys with the means to convey complex information, engage their audience, and build a compelling narrative. In this article, we will explore what storyboard visuals are and why they are essential for trial attorneys seeking success in the courtroom. 

First of all, “What Are Storyboard Visuals?”

Storyboard visuals are a method of organizing and presenting information in a visual format, typically a sequence of images or slides, that convey a narrative. They are often used in trial arguments to help attorneys present their case in a clear and compelling manner. Storyboard visuals can include photographs, diagrams, charts, timelines, and even animations, all designed to support and enhance the attorney's spoken words. Storyboards should use as little words as possible but, instead, rely on pictures to tell the story.

What Benefits Does the Use of Storyboard Visuals Offer in Trial Arguments?

  1. Clarity and Comprehension:
    The courtroom is a complex environment, and legal cases often involve intricate details and technical information. Storyboard visuals can simplify this complexity, making it more accessible to judges and jurors who may not have a legal or technical background. When used effectively, these visuals can clarify complex concepts, making them easier to understand and remember.

  2. Engagement:
    In today's multimedia world, people are accustomed to processing information through a combination of visual and auditory cues. Storyboard visuals engage the audience, capture their attention, and maintain their interest. They break up the monotony of lengthy verbal arguments and ensure that the audience remains attentive throughout the trial.

  3. Persuasion:
    Visuals have a powerful impact on human cognition and emotion. When an attorney combines compelling visuals with a well-crafted narrative, the case becomes more persuasive. A persuasive storyboard visual can evoke empathy, clarify causation, and influence jurors' emotions and decisions.

  4. Memory Retention:
    Studies have shown that people tend to remember information better when it is presented visually. Storyboard visuals create memorable associations between the information and the visual elements presented, helping jurors recall the details of a case more accurately during deliberation.

  5. Organization:
    Storyboards force attorneys to structure their arguments and evidence coherently. By planning the sequence of visual aids, attorneys ensure that their arguments follow a logical and persuasive flow. This organization can make a substantial difference in how effectively a case is presented.

  6. Time Efficiency:
    Efficiency is paramount in the courtroom, and trial attorneys often have limited time to present their case. Storyboard visuals can save time by condensing complex information into a concise format. This allows attorneys to focus on key arguments and evidence, rather than drowning the jury in paperwork.

  7. Rebuttal and Cross-Examination:
    Storyboard visuals are equally valuable during cross-examination and rebuttal. Attorneys can use these visuals to challenge opposing witnesses or arguments, dismantling the opposition's case systematically and convincingly.

The Research & A Case Study

Empathy is a potent human emotion, one that can drive individuals to action, especially in legal cases. The connection between empathy and the motivation to help others has been extensively studied (Batson et al., 2005; Oceja et al., 2014; Van Lange, 2008). Research has shown that when people feel empathy for someone, they are more inclined to offer assistance. Furthermore, studies have revealed that individuals are more likely to help those who share similar qualities or experiences (Hauser, Preston, & Stansfield, 2014).

Limited research has explored the biological basis of emotions and their connection to visual stimuli (Ren et al., 2013). While past research has categorized emotions into discrete types, the link between visuals and emotional responses remains relatively unexplored (Ren et al., 2013). Visual stimuli have the potential to evoke empathy and motivate individuals, and this connection may have significant implications in legal cases.

This article delves into the impact of storyboard visuals on empathy and value in legal cases, specifically in the context of medical malpractice trials. The central hypothesis is that storyboard visuals can elicit empathy among jurors, leading to a greater understanding of the damages suffered by the injured party and subsequently influencing the monetary award they receive.

The Challenge of Creating Emotional Connections in Courtrooms

In the structured setting of a courtroom, establishing an emotional connection between jurors and the injured party can be a formidable challenge. Surprisingly, very little research has investigated the use of visuals in legal decision-making processes (Park & Feigenson, 2013). To address this gap, a quantitative experimental study was conducted to determine the effect of storyboard visuals on emotional connection and monetary value in medical malpractice cases.

Research Questions

Three main research questions guided this study:

  1. Is there a significant difference in the level of emotional connection between study groups (using storyboard visuals vs. not using storyboard visuals)?
  2. Is there a significant difference in the determination of the case's value between study groups?
  3. Is there a significant correlation between a juror's emotional response to an injured client's case and the monetary damages awarded?


The study was grounded in the Appraisal theory, which suggests that emotional processes result from the evaluation of a situation, including an individual's ability to cope with it (Blanchette & Caparos, 2013). Questionnaires were used in both control and experimental settings to measure the impact of storyboard visuals on emotional connection with the injured party’s case and monetary value.


A total of 108 participants, potential jurors in medical malpractice cases, were recruited online. The control and experimental groups each consisted of 54 participants, equally divided between male and female jurors. Participants' ages ranged from 21 to 68 years, and demographic analysis confirmed that the two groups were demographically equivalent.


The analysis of the data revealed significant findings:

  1. Emotional Connection: There was a statistically significant difference in the level of emotional connection between the control group (no storyboard visual) and the experimental group (with a storyboard visual). The experimental group demonstrated a higher emotional connection with the injured party.
  2. Monetary Value: The experimental group awarded higher monetary damages to the injured party compared to the control group. This difference was statistically significant.
  3. Correlation: A strong positive correlation was observed between the emotional response of jurors to the injured client's case and the monetary damages they awarded.


The findings of this study have several implications for the legal field:

  1. Enhancing Emotional Connection: Medical malpractice attorneys can use storyboard visuals to establish emotional connections between jurors and injured parties. These visuals can evoke empathy and increase jurors' motivation to help the injured party.
  2. Support for Appraisal Theory: The study supports the Appraisal theory by indicating that empathy is formed after interpreting another person's situation, as measured through the Empathy Measure Questionnaire.
  3. Practical Use of Visuals: While visuals may not provide a direct method for calculating damage amounts, they can create emotional connections that motivate jurors to help the injured party. Visuals offer an effective means of communication with jurors.
  4. Future Practices: This study suggests that attorneys should consider incorporating visual storyboards when presenting cases to create emotional bonds between jurors and injured parties. The use of visuals can lead to increased monetary damages awarded to the injured party.


Storyboard visuals have a powerful impact on empathy and monetary value in legal cases, which this article demonstrates specifically within the context of medical malpractice trials. The study's findings offer valuable insights for attorneys and legal professionals seeking to enhance juror understanding, empathy, and ultimately, the monetary awards granted to injured parties. As the legal landscape evolves, the incorporation of visuals into legal strategies should be increasingly essential in securing justice for those in need.

In the high-stakes arena of litigation, the use of storyboard visuals is no longer a luxury but a necessity. These visual aids offer attorneys a competitive advantage in conveying their arguments persuasively, engaging the audience, and ensuring that the judge and jury fully understand the facts of the case. By leveraging the power of visual storytelling, trial attorneys can not only make their arguments more accessible but also more compelling, improving their chances of securing a favorable outcome for their clients. As technology and communication methods continue to evolve, the strategic use of storyboard visuals will become an increasingly vital skill for the modern trial attorney.

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Amanda Panagakis, PhD.

As a paralegal, Amanda was introduced to mock trials, focus groups, witness preparation, and jury selection and instantly knew that she wanted to become a trial consultant. After finishing her Doctorate of Philosophy in Psychology, Amanda worked as a trial consultant for several focus group and mock trial companies before joining our First Court team in 2023.

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