You drilled your client not to volunteer any information not asked for by opposing council, and yet, here he is, offering up details to the other attorney in deposition who’s politely egging him on. You’re muttering to yourself, “We discussed in the witness prep session not to do this. It went in one ear and out the other.” Why didn’t your client do what you told him to do, you’re probably asking?
Before you go off to bash your head against a brick wall wondering what you did wrong, why your client did what you repeatedly told him not to do, consider the reason might be in your approach, not what you told him that he ignored or forgot. Maybe your witness wasn’t ready to listen to you.
Everybody wants to feel that they’re being heard. When we think someone is listening and understands our feelings and our problems, we’re more open and receptive. We think and learn better when we’re being validated and able to express ourselves and our concerns.
If you want your client to follow your instructions and do well testifying, prepare them by first getting to know how they feel about the case from their perspective. What are their concerns about the deposition? What are some of their emotional triggers that could be blocking their ability to apply what you’re teaching them? If this sounds like a therapy session and a little out of your league, yes to the first; no to the second.
If they’re angry that they have to be in this situation, let them vent. You be the listener before getting down to business. If they’re afraid they’ll lose the case, assure them with a list of reasons why their chances of winning are good and that they’re in good hands. Show them you understand how they feel and how, with your guidance, they’ll be prepared to expertly testify.
THEN, with newfound rapport, let the prepping begin!
For one-on-one help prepping your client to testify at a deposition, hearing, ADR, or trial, contact us and learn more about how our process transforms your clients into great witnesses.