Here’s one more skill that law students will probably have to master on their own: how to present information in a visual way. It turns out that lawyers differ from the general public in the way they learn and communicate. According to the Attorney Communication Style Study conduced by Animators at Law, attorneys are 10% more likely to be auditory learners, 4% more likely to be kinesthetic learners and 14% less likely to be visual learners than the general public. 61% of the general public learns visually, 53% of practicing attorneys are either auditory or kinesthetic learners. (Thanks to Idealawg for pointing me to this research).
What do these results mean to law students and lawyers? On one hand, if you happen to be a visual learner (that’s still 46.9% of practicing attorneys), you may be at disadvantage in law school, which emphasizes verbal and auditory skills, but you have an advantage when you communicate with your clients or jurors. On the other hand, non-visual learners need to adapt to the preferred visual style of their audience. (Here’s a link to my previous post on how to communicate “on TAP”: topic, audience, purpose.)
How do you communicate visually?
You can use charts, graphs, pictures, slides or draw on a whiteboard. Check out a Periodic Table of Visualization Methods for ideas on how to visualize information. Another good resource to engage you spatial intelligence is the information aesthetics blog.
Pay attention and “mirror” the language patterns of visual learners. They may say phrases, such as “I see…,” “Imagine that…,” “Look at it this way.” If you are an auditory learner, you are likely to use phrases, such as “I hear…,” “That sounds good.” Kinesthetic learners may say: “I feel that…”, “Can you grasp this concept?”
Interestingly, when people interpret metaphors, they make connections across senses in the cross-modal areas of the brain where information from touch, hearing and vision comes together to form abstractions. Jaron Lanier explores the relationship between images and sounds in "Jaron’s World: The Meaning of Metaphor" for Discover.
Finally, if you need an excuse to play video-games or simulations once in a while, now you have it: you are developing you spatial skills to be a more versatile communicator. Here’s a long list of free online flash games.