Before people started wearing jeans and t-shirts to church, we used to tell people to dress for a deposition like they would for church. That may no longer be the best idea, but a witness shouldn’t wear a tie if he usually doesn’t wear a tie, but he also should not come to a deposition in his greasy work shirt.
The following are some good ideas on appearance at a deposition.
1. Be neat and clean. No matter your financial means, show up with your hair combed, your shoes shined, your clothes free of stains and your person clean, including fingernails and teeth. It’s a mark of respect.
2. Dress appropriately. Business persons generally wear suits; blue-collar workers, a shirt/blouse and pants/skirt; homemakers, PTA-meeting type outfits. Jeans are usually considered too informal for Court.
3. Dress conservatively and simply. Jurors should be interested in what you have to say, not distracted by your fashion statement. Save your wild plaids/florals, stiletto heels, cleavage-exposing, and midriff or backside-baring garments for other occasions.
4. Accessorize minimally. Less is more: keep your jewelry and bling to non-showy minimum. The same goes for make-up, hair styles and nail fashions. Leave your shades in your pocket and hair out of your face; jurors need to see your face and eyes.
6. Keep your hands off yourself. Resist the temptation to run your fingers through your hair, pluck at your mustache, twiddle your earrings or pick lint off your clothes.
7. Use the Power-Sit™. Anytime you’re sitting, at deposition or trial, unless your physical condition precludes it, sit with your rear pushed into the “L” formed by the seat and seat-back, then rest your back on the seat back, and leave your arms on the arms of the chair, or
resting loosely in your lap. This will automatically give you good posture and confident bearing.
8. Maintain a serious, neutral expression on your face. Avoid extreme expressions, such
as looking wildly distraught, rolling your eyes, scowling fiercely, or flashing broad grins.
9. Keep your body language open and undefended. Don’t cross one or both of your arms over your chest, it’s read as defensiveness. Avoid slumping, slouching, twisting your body to
one side, leaning to either side, or supporting your chin with your hand, elbow on the table.
10. Engage steady eye contact with whoever’s asking you a question or speaking to you. Look away while you’re thinking if needed, but engage eye contact before speaking.
Next week, I will cover a few ideas on actively LISTENING. I often tell my clients that after giving a deposition, they should be mentally and physically tired if they are actively listening.
As always, if there is anything I can do for you day or night, please do not hesitate to call. For more information about the firm, you can check out the webpage and www.perkinsfirm.com.