Alright, I get that most people don’t speak in public regularly; however, we ALL talk. When we want someone to understand us, we don’t mumble. We speak clearly. Clarity is essential in giving a deposition.
The following are few key points in clarity in a deposition.
1. Articulate. Speak clearly and distinctly. This is particularly a problem with Southerners, but I can say that because I am one! I joke and tell folks that anyone can talk like a Red-neck by just keeping your tongue at the bottom of your mouth when you talk. Try it and see if you don’t sound like Bubba. It’s not a good practice in depositions. Don’t mumble!
2. Be aware of your volume. Speaking too softly makes it hard for jurors to hear you, speaking too loudly is intimidating.
3. Use full sentences. In response to “What were your duties?” “Manager” is less accurate than “I managed 2 teams in the IT department.”
4. Use words, not sounds or gestures. Say “yes,” “no,” not “uh-huh” or “nah.” We may talk that like that normally, but the court reporter needs to ensure accurate responses. Shoulder shrugs, head nods, headshaking and other such are impossible to transcribe.
5. Know the Sequence of Events. Reviewing the sequence of events chronologically makes it easier to remember what happened when. I have recently begun to use Casemap as a source of information to keep up organization of materials.
6. Use common words and expressions we’re all familiar with. People don’t “exit from vehicles” they get out of a car.
7. Avoid jargon or industry-specific language. The jurors’ education, jobs and world experience may not match yours. Make sure you’re understood by everyone, not just a select few.
8. Translate technical terms. If your testimony requires you to use technical terms, translate those into“people-speak” as well. Doctors can be the worst with the techincal terms, but I think it’s sometimes because they want to sound smart or because they to make the lawyer look foolish. Note to lawyer: look up the words in medical before you take the depostion!
9. Leave the jokes at home. Humor is a subjective experience, and can easily be misunderstood or even used against you. This is one of the rules I get most annoyed when people break. There will often be unintentional humor in a deposition and that is fine. The intended humor never works.
10. Complete your answer. If you’re interrupted, wait until the interruption is over and say “I wasn’t finished with my answer. May I finish it now, please?” (unless the Judge or your attorney asks you not to).
Next week, I will cover some logistical things to remember when giving a deposition. If these ideas have been helpful, please let me know by making a post here or following this blogsite. It is primarily devoted to ideas in defending the trucking industry and I would like your thoughts.
As always, if there is anything I can do for your day or night, please don’t hesitate to call. For more information about the firm, check out our website at www.perkinsfirm.com.