Witness preparation process:
- Work with the witness to develop themes and anchors to employ while testifying
- Help the witness learn how to emphasize their strengths, while minimizing their weaknesses
- Concentrate on the dynamic relationship between what a witness says, how he/she sounds to others, and how he/she present themselves
- Educate the witness about various questioning techniques often utilized by opposing counsel to confuse the witness or damage their credibility
- Preview the effectiveness of demonstrative exhibits for supporting clear and persuasive testimony
Customized witness prep
Preparation for giving deposition testimony differs in important respects from preparation for testifying at trial. At trial, the goal is to persuade the jury. For deposition, the goal is to avoid creating a record of prior inconsistent testimony and to demonstrate to opposing counsel the strength of the witness’ testimony. With judicious use of videotaping, the witness’ communication patterns are identified and an evaluation made of both effective and ineffective patterns. By concentrating on the witness’ communication strengths rather than just the weaknesses, and on the purpose for which the testimony is to be given, it is possible to enhance a witness’ ability to testify more effectively.
The role of counsel
The witness must be prepared substantively by counsel before the preparation session so that the consultant can focus on the witness’ communication skills. Counsel should be prepared to examine the witness on critical areas appropriate to the situation: direct, cross, or adverse testimony. Any documents or visuals to be used by the witness should be available for the session. If possible, it is preferable to have another lawyer conduct the examination of opposing counsel.
Typically, a witness preparation assignment can be completed in one 4-8 hour session. It is most effective when completed in the week prior to testifying. For witnesses with especially difficult communication problems, two sessions may be needed.