Preparing a witness for a deposition is like teaching them a new language. They need to study the vocabulary and how to construct sentences, rules of grammar and eventually be able to speak fluently in that new tongue. Your clients are learning a new language when you prep them for a deposition. If you’ve taught them how to precisely and properly respond to all types of questions typically asked by opposing council. They’re ready. Pat yourself on the back.
Wait … not so fast.
Witness prep goes beyond becoming more competent, in my view; it needs to become instinctive. I believe in taking witnesses to a level I like to call “unconscious competency.”
Witness prep is similar to learning how to drive a car. When you were a kid and got into that car for the first time, you actually know that you don’t know how to drive. What I call – Consciously Incompetent! You lacked focus, constantly thought about checking your rearview mirror, and more than likely, kept your hands in the right position. That’s the learning process for clients – at the first stage.
At some point in the prep process, your client begins to know what to do. I call this the second stage, consciously competent. They’re still having to think it through, but it’s flowing a bit better. At this stage, your client is still thinking too much. We want to get them to the third stage — driving on instinct and intuition. This is the stage I call, “unconsciously competent.”
When you’re driving a car from a place of unconscious competency, you just get in and drive. You don’t think about all those laws, rules, and techniques you used to think about when you were a 16-year-old driver on a learner’s permit. You instinctively know how to do it. This is where we take your client.
Unconscious competency is where your client must be to be successful. Their muscle memory kicks, they execute, they stay poised and make it look as easy as a Sunday drive through the park