I was talking to a client on the phone, and we got on the subject of perfectionism. I claimed to be a perfectionist, and she did too.
She told me an interesting story. Her firm hired a woman attorney to educate the staff on sexual harassment.
While the content of the presentation was good, there were several aspects of the attorney's work that undermined her credibility--and may end up costing her the relationship.
She used clip art.
Clip art is 1980s stuff--crude cartoons that are more of a distraction than an effective visual aid.
The use of clip art now is not acceptable. Professional presentations need professional design elements that communicate the key themes and messages of the material.
Websites such as Getty Images and ShutterStock have an almost infinite supply of photographs and images that can communicate almost any idea you have. You have to pay for your pictures, but they make you and your material look good.
Don't show up in the 21st Century with clip art from the 20th. These days, a presentation with clip art looks cheesey.
She may have broken the law
Taking free clip art from the internet, especially from Google Images, is a quick way to get yourself hauled into court.
Many of the pictures on Google Images are copyright protected. It's hard to read the small print announcing the possibility of a copyright while you're racing to grab an image to paste onto your slide.
Beware! There's a whole class of lawyers who spend their time cruising the internet looking for someone like you who is grabbing an image identified by a name, number, or pictorial recognition.
I know this because, when I was young and foolish, I thought all the stuff on Google Images was free. I got caught, but lucky for me, my liability insurance company paid the fine. (They deserve a shout out: Franklin Mutual Insurance.)
Stay out of court. Buy your images from a reputable dealer.
Her presentation had typos
You may think typos are tiny and trivial, but they are terrible for your image--especially for a lawyer. Laws are made of words, words have powerful meanings, and meanings must be spelled out correctly to communicate clearly.
Typos are like gravy stains on an airline dinner tray. You don't want the customer to make a connection between the stains on a tray and the quality of your engine maintenance.
Scour your document for typos and get two or three other people to do the same. Don't let typos make you look bad.
She was frivolous on a serious topic
Sexual harassment is serious stuff, especially when it happens to you. It's a form of prejudice, violence, injustice, abuse, unfairness, terror, predation--I could go on. The recent case at Fox News is a case in point. The lawyer in question made light of the topic and offended her audience. I'm not proposing that levity be banished from professional education, but you persuade people only if you talk their language by speech, gesture, tone, image and attitude.
My client was disappointed in the lawyer's presentation. She was paying the lawyer a princely fee, and she expected an extraordinary attention to detail, which she did not get.
Clipart, legal risk, typos, and a frivolous approach to a serious topic impacted the lawyer's credibility.
Clients can be perfectionists. Leave no stone unturned, including doing your due diligence on the culture, vibe, traditions and mood of the audience you are addressing.