You may do more than offer a deposition in an upcoming civil case. You might have to take the stand yourself as a plaintiff or as an expert witness. If this is your first time testifying in a civil case, you may wonder how you can calm your anxieties about taking the stand.
Civil litigation will vary case by case, so what is true in your case may not be true for other people about to give testimony. Still, there are some general steps that may benefit anyone preparing to testify in court.
Preparation may help your testimony
The American Psychological Association recommends familiarizing yourself with the case and considering what your attorney will ask you on the stand. Think through what you will say when questioned. Also, consider what the opposing side will ask. Opposition council will usually focus on the limitations of a witness’s experience or education, so prepare yourself for such questioning.
Ready yourself against opposition tactics
Be aware of possible attempts by the opposing attorney to damage your testimony. During cross-examination, the other attorney might ask you a few questions in quick succession while interpreting your testimony different than you have. When you answer, you may validate the attorney’s interpretation of your remarks without intending to.
You may avoid slipping up by answering the attorney’s questions at your own pace. The other attorney may speak quickly, but you do not have to reply at the same speed. Listen carefully to what the attorney has said and formulate your responses accordingly.
Ask other witnesses for advice
You might know friends or work colleagues who have already testified in court. Ask them about the kinds of questions they have faced on the stand. It can help if they have dealt with a case like yours, but talking to anyone who has given court testimony may help.
Keep your language understandable
If you are a specialist or are bringing some professional knowledge to the case, make your terminology easy for the jury to understand. Think about what jurors may or may not know about your field. Rehearse your answers with friends outside of your field to determine whether your words confuse them or not. A jury may be more receptive if you inform them clearly and without elaborate verbiage.