The purpose of a deposition is to procure a clear record of a particular witness’s account of events dealing with your case. However, for a record to be as useful as possible, it must be as clearly understandable as possible.
Now, of course you will want to make sure the technical facilities for recording a deposition are in fine working order. You’re well aware that, if there’s a technical glitch, a transcript can always clarify what was said. But great video is so much more compelling to a judge or jury that you would really prefer a perfect video record to printed words on a page.
To get these great results, you must properly prepare your witness—and one of the most important things you must emphasize to your witness is speaking clearly.
A deposition is pretty much useless if the witness can’t be understood. It doesn’t matter whether the statements were recorded by hand or were captured by video, if his articulation was poor, the record might be difficult to understand. For example: a mumbled “yeah” may be interpreted as a “nah”; rambling may be seen as uncertainty; and poor enunciation may make the witness seem distracted, unreliable, or a little dotty.
However, you can avoid miscommunication and deposition delays by encouraging your witness to practice and pay attention to the following:
- Articulation. Proper pronunciation and attention to vowels and consonants are extremely important for vocal clarity. Instead of “yeah,” your witness should say “yes.” Remind him that during a deposition, the ends of words can be lost or fail to be picked up by the microphone. As such, it is vital that he not only speaks loudly but that he also enunciates his consonants while speaking.
- Diction. Another serious impediment for depositions is poor diction. When a witness speaks with heavy inflection or accents it can be difficult to understand. Although an interpreter can be secured for foreign speakers, even regional dialects can be misleading. While prepping your witness, ask him a few common questions that may come up in the deposition and make sure that you can understand his speech patterns. If not, you may want to encourage different pronunciations or look into having an interpreter on hand.
- Speech patterns. How your witness carries the conversation can also disrupt clarity. In addition to being clearly articulate, he needs to be concise. Rambling, drawling, or underscoring words with repetitive “uhs” or “umms”—known as vocalized pauses to speech professionals—can project uncertainty and alter how people comprehend the witness’s responses. Try to encourage your witness to be precise with his answers, even if it means taking a few seconds to compose the exact words he wants to say in his head.
For more information on how to secure a clear deposition record, contact us today. Whether you’re looking for an accredited transcriptionist to ensure accuracy or an experienced videographer to secure a clear visual record, we have what you need. Fill out the contact form provided and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible. In the meantime, feel free to browse our extensive collection of educational articles to learn more about deposition prep and execution.