Witness performance is an essential, but often overlooked, part of preparing for trial. Jurors look for clues on how to judge witnesses and how much weight to accord their testimony. Steadiness, imperturbability, body language, eye-contact, appearance, attire, vocal articulation, reluctance, quarrelsomeness, evasiveness, emotionality, conviction and consistency are just some of the factors jurors consider when evaluating witness credibility, authenticity, and likeability. The presentation-effectiveness of a witness can enhance jurors’ receptivity to facts, claims, and evidence or seriously undermine jurors’ perceptions, for example, by misdirecting jurors to focus on the negative characteristics of the witness that emerge under the stress and strain of courtroom testimony or a videotaped deposition.
We can provide your trial team with an objective assessment and critical feedback on the initial impression your witness projects, to help you structure your in-court decision-making. Our consultants come with highly specialized training in advocacy, communications, legal psychology, image consulting, color analysis, linguistics, and body language analysis, and can quickly spot critical performance deficits and foresee potential performance pitfalls that will be missed by even the most astute attorney.
Additionally, we can help your witnesses overcome stage fright or presentation problems in order to deliver the most effective testimony during deposition or on the stand. We will help your witnesses project warmer, more positive images that will make them easier to connect with the jury.
Jury Research (i.e. mock trials, focus groups, or case fact and issue studies) can also be utilized as an effective tool to evaluate witness performance and receptivity with mock jurors who will be able to judge the witness in context and in relation to juror biases, experiences, value beliefs and associations already activated by the case presentations. Witness evaluation can be made a part of the research protocol, and witnesses can appear on video or in-person. This type of evaluation allows the trial team to select the best witnesses to make the case or identifies the need for further witness preparation and training.
“Perhaps your greatest feat was turning that one all important witness from a wimp into a tiger.Robert Horowitz, Denver, CO