Every year since1995, Mary Meeker issues a comprehensive, exhaustive and, definitive internet and social media trends report. This Report underscores the most important statistics and technology trends on the internet. It focuses on internet usage, advertising trends, and other tech trends. Almost everyone in the tech and social media areas pays particular attention to Meeker’s findings and statistics. This year’s Report came out in June. Meeker, left Kleiner Perkins last fall after eight years at the VC firm and is now with Bond Cap LLC.

I recently listened to the Kennedy-Mighell podcast in which they discussed the Report and its findings, which caused me to wade through the 334 slides that compose Meeker’s observations and analysis. I found key metrics that should interest lawyers and particularly trial lawyers.

 

Whether you are a technology zealot or not, it is essential to know and understand the trends that demonstrate how people are and how they expect to be persuaded.

 

What’s Important to Lawyers? Why Should We Care?

There’s a lot of stuff in the Report which, while interesting, is not particularly relevant to lawyers. But lawyers are in the communication and persuasion business. Whether you are a technology zealot or not, it is essential to know and understand the trends that demonstrate how people are and how they expect to be persuaded.

And there were some very relevant findings in the Report relating to this point:

  • There is an explosion of online learning both in general and in educational institutions. People frankly expect to learn through the tools they experience online. Just one example: YouTube reports 4.5 billion annual hours are spent by people watching “how-to” videos. This is how we are learning
  • There are 3.8 current worldwide internet users, which is more than half the world’s population. More than half of humanity is online, and that number is rising. 26% of adults are always online.
  • The average daily time spent digitally in 2018 was 6.3 hours. We spend 3.6 of these hours on mobile devices.
  • For the first time, people spent more time on mobile devices than watching television
  • While Facebook still leads the pack among social platforms, Instagram and YouTube show significant usage increases that dwarfs the modest Facebook increase, demonstrating the power of video and images. Podcast usage has also increased dramatically

So?

What does this mean? As Meeker notes, “People are increasingly telling stories with edited images/video.” Images, as opposed to text, are becoming more and more the preferred method of sharing information. Meeker quotes Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom, “People have always been visual-our brains are wired for images. Writing was a hack, a detour. Pictorial languages are how we all start to communicate-we are coming full circle.”

 

It’s hard to persuade someone who isn’t listening by the way.

 

It’s no secret that pictures can replace 1000 words. And in a world where people spend so much time online and on social media and where they learn and consume information through images and video, be assured they will expect and demand the same thing in the courtroom or in any presentation. They will expect and require that the tools by which they learn online be employed. If you don’t use visuals or the technology people have grown used to seeing online, you risk, at best, a bored audience that doesn’t listen. It’s hard to persuade someone who isn’t listening by the way. At worst, you lose credibility: if you don’t try to persuade using the tools people are used to seeing, you will not persuade, period.

Want Some Examples?

Want to market effectively? Consider the Meeker statistics: your potential clients are online and learning through video. The mega-firm Shook Hardy recently launched a new video series entitled  “60 Seconds of Legal Science.” The series is composed of short videos on topics ranging from dietary supplements to voice over internet protocol (VOIP).

How did Shook Hardy do with this series? Here’s a link to a video explaining blockchain and narrated by Shook IP attorney Keith Bae that garnered 22,000 views on Twitter and 29,000 on LinkedIn. That’s a lot of potential clients.

Here’s another. For the past several years, I have been fortunate enough to be part of the faculty of the Evolve program for the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel (FDCC). The FDCC is composed of highly skilled trial lawyers whose stock and trade is persuasion. Membership is by invitation only.

Two years ago, the FDCC, (of which I am a proud member) recognized the need for its members to use state of the art technological tools and skills and it designed a rigorous on hands attorney training module. The module was designed to teach trial lawyers how to use technology to better tell stories in the courtroom and, for that matter, in any presentation. To further help its members, the FDCC also curated a group of technologies and featured them on the FDCC Evolve website along with comprehensive step-by-step instructions on their setup and use.

In our course, we teach lawyers how to use various technological tools to move into the new teaching and persuasion mainstream. We want to be sure our members create effective presentations similar to that people see and expect to see from those seeking to inform and persuade. And mastering use of these tools also helps lawyers use technology to enhance the story they want to tell. Here’s a link to my post on the course.

 

Persuasion is all about teaching, and all lawyers are in the communication and persuasion business.

 

Some Advice

Want to be an effective and impactful communicator? Think about the Meeker reports and how people get and consume information and how they learn. Persuasion is all about teaching, and all lawyers are in the communication and persuasion business.

Here’s three vary basic suggestions:

  • To the maximum extent possible use images and video in any presentation, It’s not enough to tell someone what happened, you have to show them.
  • Use the tools you see yourself online: animations, graphics and visuals that make the point clearly and succinctly. To paraphrase a quote attributed to St. Francis Assisi: Persuade always. Only when necessary use words.
  • Get to the point quickly. Like it or not, we all have very short attention spans