As with any testimony, video deposition witness prep is essential to controlling—as much as possible—how a testimony will play out. The preparation period lets the witness get comfortable with how you will question him; at the same time, you’re also giving him reassurance and allowing him to steel himself for what he has in store from the opposing counsel.
In essence, it is a time for both you and your witness to reach a mutual understanding on how to compose yourselves and deliver honest testimony in the most compelling way for the court and jury.
When preparing a witness for a deposition, it is important to make sure that he knows how to come off as responsible, confident, and trustworthy. Providing him with the following advice is a good start to help him achieve this goal before he’s placed in front of the camera. These hints will also help show your professionalism and credibility as they’ll create a sharper and stronger video.
The witness needs to remember to…
- Speak clearly. Your witness may feel anxious, frustrated, or even scared to give his testimony. As a result, his voice may be affected. Encourage him to practice speaking loudly and as clearly as possible. Let him know that although the microphones are sensitive, he needs to be loud enough for his words to be picked up by the audio system. Tell him that, if necessary, you will allow him to take a few moments to compose himself before questioning to ensure his speech is clear.
- Ask questions to clarify. It is important that your witness understands the questions he is being asked in order to answer them correctly. However, anxiety and fear of being criticized can cause some witnesses to answer without fully understanding what is being asked, in order to finish quickly. Many attorneys rely on this reflex to get contradictory statements. In order to keep your witness focused and keep him from giving an inaccurate statement, encourage him to ask for clarity. If he doesn’t understand something, tell him to have the attorney rephrase the question. Before the deposition, role play with him by asking potential questions and seeing how he responds. The more comfortable he is asking for clarification, the less you have to worry about him becoming confused on video.
- Dress appropriately. One of the perks of a video deposition is that a witness doesn’t have to be in the same room as you during questioning. Rather than having to travel, a witness can theoretically give his testimony from anywhere. Unfortunately, this “freedom” has a way of making people think they can be as comfortable as they want since they may not be in professional surroundings. However, this isn’t the case. Although the testimony may be given in laid-back surroundings, it has the potential to be viewed in a court of law. As such, you need to encourage your witness to not only act responsibly but also dress responsibly. Even though the video may only show him from the waist up, suggest he wear slacks and dress shoes—not ripped jeans and sandals. Encourage a suit and tie, not a stained t-shirt and trucker hat. Remind him that the more responsible he looks, the more credible his testimony will appear.
You need your video deposition to be as clear and crisp as possible in order to engage the court. Don’t allow the hard work you put in to preparing your witness go to waste. You wouldn’t allow just anyone to prep your witness, so why trust an amateur to record his testimony? Call us today to set up your next video deposition and see how good your work can look.