Going through the witness preparation process for trial can be a complicated issue. Everyone reacts differently to the pressure they are put under when they take the stand. But taking the time to implement a preparation plan will help minimize the chances that your witness will be caught unprepared while they are testifying. There are a variety of things a person needs to learn during the witness preparation process, following are four of the most important:
Learning How to Answer Questions
Most people don’t realize that there is a right and wrong way to answer questions that are asked of them while they are on the stand. If they aren’t in a great mood or are not used to speaking in front of people, it can be tough for them to answer questions in an effective way. Witnesses should learn:
* How to answer each questions in a clear, concise manor that doesn’t offer more information than necessary.
* To speak loudly so that they can be heard by everyone in the courtroom.
* To always answer yes or no when possible.
It’s also important that they know how to repeat questions when they are not fully understood to ensure no inconsistent or incorrect information is provided.
Learning How to Deal With Objections
More than likely, objections will be made after one or more answers are given during the testimony so preparing for them is essential. Otherwise, the stress of the situation can make your witness lose their focus. Offer some tips and tricks such as:
* Taking a deep breath and silently count to five each time an objection is made before replying to any questions.
* Maintaining a straight face when being challenged about an answer that was given.
* Avoiding raising their voice the pressure starts to mount.
Provide a list of terms, words, and types of answers that may result in an objection during testimony.
Learning How to Avoid Arguments
One of the most important things to avoid while testifying is arguing with the judge or the lawyer who is asking questions. Doing so can put a damper on any testimony that is given throughout the entire session. Even one snide remark can change the opinions held about the witness. Make sure they’re armed with ideas such as:
* Simply repeating the question when it is perceived as snide or rude.
* Refusing to engage in back-and-forth banter with any person from the other party.
* Respectfully declining to answer any questions that make them feel uncomfortable.
It’s important that they know it is alright to ask for a break when emotions start to run high in the room.
It is always a good idea to set up a couple of meetings before the trial is to take place so that you can practice the things that were learned during witness preparation sessions. This provides a chance to see how the pressure is handled in a real-life situation.