Practice Exercises to Help Prepare Your Witness’s Voice for the Stand
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a public speaker, being able to express your thoughts clearly is essential to be understood. Unfortunately, not everyone has the same skill with articulation and diction as those who speak for a living. Varying speech patterns aren’t necessarily a handicap in the real world, but when giving a deposition or speaking in court, the possibility of being misunderstood can have dreadful consequences.
When speaking in front of a court or when giving a deposition, your witness’s words determine the outcome of a person’s future. Don’t you want those words to be clearly understood? In some cases, depending on his speech patterns, accents, or tonality, you may have to work with the witness to ensure the clarity needed during depositions.
Vocal Conditioning Exercises
Although used most often by singers and actors, vocal exercises are a great way to condition your speaking voice while also giving you confidence. As a lawyer, you can do these exercises before a trial to ensure your voice is strong and persuasive. As a witness, these exercises can be used to promote clarity and help you feel more comfortable when speaking.
Furthermore, when all the voices in a deposition or trial are well-conditioned, the risk that a transcriptionist will mishear words or that a microphone will fail to pick up words is dramatically decreased. Therefore, before your next deposition, whether lawyer or witness, try performing the following exercises to condition your speech.
- Volume training: The Doppler effect. Mimic the sound of a car speeding past you. Keep your mouth closed and softly hum, gradually getting louder and louder. Once you feel as though you’re screaming, gradually lower the volume. Repeat several times, attempting to reach the peak faster until you sound like a passing car. Take note of the volume of the peak and mimic your speaking voice to that volume.
- Pitch training: The Wicked Witch chant. Sing the “O-Ee-Yah! Eoh-Ah!” chant that the Winkie guards sing in The Wizard of Oz. Start with the first “O” as a bass note, raise the “Ee” an octave, then repeat the third and fourth syllables as bass notes. Finally, lower the last “Ah” one more octave. Repeat entire chant several times.
- Articulation training: The Dragon Drum speech. Repeat the following dialogue, making sure to articulate each word; pay special attention to the letters T, R, and S: What a to-do to die today, at a minute or two to two. A thing distinctly hard to say, but harder still to do. We’ll beat a tattoo, at twenty to two, a rat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tattoo. And the dragon will come when he hears the drum, at a minute or two to two today, at a minute or two to two.
Speak to Be Heard
As accredited transcription and video deposition professionals, we know how important diction and articulation is to procure a strong record. Don’t allow your deposition to be misunderstood as a result of poor speech. Encourage your witnesses to perform vocal exercises before going on record and practice them yourself to ensure courtroom clarity.