In part two of this podcast, our host Sean Harris talks with technology consultant Brett Burney about using an iPad as a trial presentation tool and the best and easiest apps to use.
Sean: I am going to skip ahead here. This is an area on the iPad that is near and dear to my heart, whether in opening statement or giving a seminar talk, I really enjoy using the iPad as a presentation tool. It’s very powerful. This is an Apple product, so why would we sully it up by using a piece of software from the evil empire called Microsoft?
Brett: It’s funny that you should you say that. For a long time Microsoft did not make apps for the iPad. At least not Microsoft Office apps. Again, iPad comes around in 2010; every year we have had a new generation of iPad. At the same time, Microsoft had their own tablet PC that they were trying to encourage people to purchase. Their service has gotten much much better over the years as well. By the way, this wasn’t the first time that Microsoft PC had a tablet. In fact, I reviewed for a magazine called Law Office Computing several years ago, I think in 2003, where they had the tablet PC. It didn’t do so well. But now that the iPad is successful, Microsoft came back and they have the Surface line of their tablet PC. So for a long time, we did not have Microsoft Office apps on the iPad. Until, March 2014. I remember the date specifically because I was on stage at the ABA Tech Show in Chicago getting ready to give a presentation on how to use Microsoft Word on the iPad. About two hours before my presentation, Microsoft had a press conference to announce finally that they had released Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for the iPad. Now, some may say who cares, it wasn’t a big deal. This was a huge deal. As I alluded to at the beginning, a lot of people criticized the iPad for not being a tool for creation or not being something to get real work done. Now, these apps could come on to the iPad. Microsoft has done a fantastic job of porting over the Microsoft Office apps onto the iPad. Today, we can use Microsoft Word now almost as good as what you would find on a Windows computer or a MAC computer. The Microsoft Power Point presentation tool has become a phenomenal tool for people as well. So unlike you and I who use MACs 100% of the time, there are folks who use Windows and continue to use Windows. They are using Power Point to create their presentation and now it is so easy to copy the presentation from the computer onto the iPad so that you can use the iPad as an effective presentation tool anywhere that you go.
Sean: By the way, on the topic of the Microsoft Office apps, does those require the Office 365 Subscription?
Brett: Excellent question. At first they did. Microsoft Word, Power Point and Excel are all completely free, no strings attached. You can download them on your iPad today. In fact, I absolutely recommend that every lawyer have all three apps on their iPad because if you need to view a word document the free Microsoft Word app is the best way to view the document inside the iPad. Now, Microsoft initially when they first released these apps did require you to have a subscription to Office 365 before you could do any edits, changes, or anything on those documents. You could still view the documents but you couldn’t do anything unless you had access to Office 365. It was maybe about 8 months after that, end of 2014, they said we are starting to see people use this so we are going to open up a few options for people to do some basic edits on these documents without having a subscription. Since then, now, they have opened up a little bit more and a little bit more. Now there are still some things that do require you to have a subscription to Office 365 but they are advance things, like you can’t create columns on the Word iPad app. You can’t track changes, you can view tracked changes, but you can’t initiate track changes without having a subscription to Office 365. So, right now, if you don’t have a subscription to Office 365 still get the apps because they will allow you to do so much in them. Specifically in Power Point, they will allow you to present a power point presentation from the iPad without having a subscription. At first they didn’t allow you to have access to Dropbox inside of these apps and that has changed. Now it is even opened up to Boxx. You can also use inside the power point app the iCloud drive where you can bring in documents from other apps on the iPad. Microsoft continues to innovate in this way and it is fantastic.
Sean: As presentation tools, if you are comparing Microsoft Power Point to Apple’s Keynote presentation software, how do they stack up against each other?
Brett: Let me just back up quickly to areas where I see the presentation tool. We will definitely get to the formal presentations, but I want to back up and just comment. I remember visiting you at your office and walking into your lovely conference room and there was a large wide screen TV; which is not unheard of in most offices today. I remember talking with you about using the iPad in the sense that if you have an Apple TV, the small box that can buy for about $150 for the most recent version, you connect that to your television. If you set that up properly, you can walk into that conference room with your assistants and your partners and whatever you have on your iPad, a document or a YouTube video or a mind map, you can mirror that from your iPad onto the wide screen TV. What would you do before the iPad? If you wanted to show everyone a document you would make copies for everybody. But now, I walk into some many law offices across the country where they use the iPad in their conference rooms and mirror whatever is on the iPad onto the wide screen TV. If they want to stop it they stop it. Or if somebody else wants to show something on their iPad they can take over the feed basically and they can show the document that they are using.
Sean: Even though it is called the Apple TV you essentially treat it as your wireless receiver.
Brett: Yes! Great way to put it! I just think it is brilliant in that you can then collaborate so much better that way. Even just using it that way is so powerful to me. Could you do that with a laptop? Yeah, you could. But you would have to get the VGA connector, power, and stay seated close to the computer. The iPad is just so much more powerful than that. So, lets take it that one step further now. If I have that same setup, you can take that set up as simple as it may be, let’s say a widescreen TV or a projector set up with an Apple TV, you can then take that to a CLE presentation. You could take it to a client presentation. You could take it into a court room or a hotel room for an arbitration or a mediation, something like that. You can now take this idea and not just simply mirror what is on the screen but now you have access to two presentation tools, Microsoft Power Point and the Apple version of that is Keynote. Keynote I think it fairly superior to Power Point; it’s just what we prefer on the MAC side. Before Microsoft had Power Point for the iPad, Apple said we have a Keynote app, we will let you bring Power Point files into that app and show them through the app. Well now Microsoft has their own version and that is fine, it’s good for the competition. I call these linear presentations because most of the time when we are developing a presentation for power point we think slide, next slide, next slide, etc. We have a plan of what we are going to show on there. We typically aren’t going to be jumping around from document to document. We use these for openings or closings or presentations that we know will already fit this pattern that we have developed. They are both great for that. I recommend both apps. Number one, Power Point is free. Keynote for iPad is either $10 if you have to buy it. If you buy a new iPad it comes on it for free. I recommend having both apps because in some cases you might want to use Keynote if you are developing a presentation originating from the iPad. What I find most of the time is that most people are going to develop their presentation on a computer first. I wouldn’t recommend starting a presentation from scratch on the iPad; it can be frustrating and we aren’t used to doing things that way. Develop it on a computer first and then copy it over to the iPad when it is about 90-95% of the way done. You can make those last little tweaks on the iPad. Both apps work wonderfully for that. So that is the linear presentation tools.
There are a couple of apps for a more dynamic presentation as in it’s formal trial presentation applications. Most of us have used Window’s Trial Director and Sanction. These are the two most prevalent trial presentation tools that we have had for several decades.
Sean: Which used to cost us hundreds of dollars!
Brett: A single license of Trial Director starts at just under $900 now. Plus there is a annual licenses fee of $150. Sanction was bought by Lexis Nexis and may have good pricing for their current customers. But both of those applications cost what professional software applications should cost. Nothing against those applications. They are both still excellent applications and I tell people the iPad is not going to completely replace those in all circumstances. Will it replace it in many circumstances…absolutely! I have seen a lot of firms, solo or small, doing this. Instead of lugging a laptop around they have an iPad. Not only can you carry all of your exhibits and your documents on there but now you have the capability with one of my favorite trial presentation apps, which is TrialPad, to do just about everything I find most lawyers are doing in trial applications. Trial Director has more features because they have to keep adding more features to them. What I find most people are doing is zooming in or magnifying on a section of a document or they are highlighting some text, or they are circling something. That’s about it. You can do all of that on TrialPad and you can do it easier I believe. There is a Trial Director app that is available for free on the iPad. It is good but I don’t think it is as polished as TrialPad. I have talked to the CEO of InData Corp, that is who develops Trial Director, and there thinking is that if they give this app away for free people will purchase the full desktop version. Which makes sense, because if you have both of those tools the Windows program allows you to create a witness folder or an exhibit folder that you can easily copy over onto the iPad and use inside of the Trial Director app on the iPad.
Sean: I will tell you anecdotally, I used Trial Director last year in trial up in Bellefontaine and for what you said, the ability not only to call out, and highlight, and annotate, but to be able to jump around non-linearly for a free app, you can’t beat it.
Brett: Exactly. Again, I don’t find it as polished as TrialPad. Think of it as the demo version. Trial Director is a great company but I am thrilled that they have recognized that there are a lot of people using mobile devices, like the iPad. They are now embracing that a little bit. It is a gateway into somebody getting the full version of Trial Director. I find that the app is a great way to get people familiar with the idea of using it in trial. If it’s something that you want to continue to use then $130 is a drop in the bucket if it’s going to make you look better at some of the cases and where you are going from the presentation standpoint.
Sean: It’s going to take a lot more than $130 to make me look better.
Brett: I wasn’t going to go there.
Sean: Well Brett Burney it has been a pleasure and a blast having you hear on Civilly Speaking. Thank you very much.
Brett: Thank you. I am happy to answer any questions. As people can tell I get a little excited about this. This is why you and I can’t meet too much because we will just have a three hour lunch talking about all of this.
Sean: Brett, if people want to get in contact with you how would they do that?
Brett: My website is the best way: burneyconsultants.com
Sean: Brett Burney, thanks very much!
Brett: Thanks Sean, always great talking with you!