Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Preparing for Court- 3 Critical Strategies You Need Before You Make A Statement

Speech Language Pathologists as Trial Consultants:  
Helping to Prepare Witnesses for Court

If you are going to participate in a significant part of litigation, such as a deposition, mediation, or trial, proper preparation is important.

Your attorney may be exceptional with his speaking skills or know her way around the courtroom with her eyes closed, but what about you, the client? You need to know what to expect, how to behave, and how to respond, and this is where even the best lawyer may blow it…

they don’t tell you about the importance of your communication strategy. 

Wrapped up in other legal preparations, attorneys forget to mention how important clear and concise communication can be in achieving a positive outcome.  For this and many other reasons, attorneys often enlist the help of communication experts. Such professionals prepare clients, witnesses and experts to communicate effectively during all aspects of litigation.

Giving testimony is a scary proposition, so here are three super simple speech strategies you can use when you need to make a statement. 

#1. Be Clear

Whether you are in a deposition room or a courtroom, make sure you use good volume so that your voice projects. Also, use a slower rate of speech as you talk.  

As a witness, you have very valuable information to share.   Mumbling and speed talking can cause you to be misunderstood and make it necessary for you repeat yourself. A small, soft voice may even diminish your credibility.  

From the judge, to the court reporter, to the jury, you need to be heard and you must be understood, so if you want to be more effective, speak up and slow down.

#2. Be Concise

Ideally, witnesses need to give thoughtful responses that concisely answer the questions that were asked- giving not much more and nothing less. In order to be concise, it’s important to think before you speak

You obviously can't take 30 seconds to completely organize and edit your thoughts every time you speak, but you can make an effort to not just blurt out whatever is on your mind. Because of that, it's OK to take a few seconds to think about what you really want to say.

First, communicate the main idea, then provide supporting ideas, but don't provide irrelevant or tangential information. In other words, to be concise, keep your responses short and sweet.

#3. Be Compelling

When a person has a passion for what they’re saying, they are compelling. Putting aside drama and theatrics, a speaker is particularly compelling or effective when they use strategic pausing.  

When you’re speaking, adding brief pauses after powerful, information loaded statements allows the people listening to really absorb the details you’re sharing. Those brief moments of silence can have a real impact… and will virtually eliminate the tendency for speed talking.  

Other ways to be more confident and compelling when giving testimony include: paying attention to the tone of your voice, using inflection to add variety and interest, and displaying an appropriate demeanor.

By using this 3 part communication strategy, you will be properly prepared to give your testimony during any and all phases of litigation. 

Spontaneous Speech Coach offers professional, personalized witness preparation services. If you have additional questions or need further assistance, please contact us at 361-271-1700.  We will be happy to schedule an appointment for a private consultation.  

Be clear. Be compelling. Make a statement.

Sometimes a single phrase of testimony can set events in motion that affect someone's life for eternity.
President Dieter Uchtdorf