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5 Tips for Preparing Your Witness for Video Deposition

175649389Preparing your witness for a video deposition has a few more wrinkles—or more accurately, the ironing out of a few more wrinkles—than a deposition recorded only by stenography.

A witness’s demeanor, tone of voice, and general appearance are critical in a video deposition. The camera will magnify any nonverbal mannerisms, which may enhance or detract from the deponent’s credibility.

Here are five tips to help your witness become video-ready:

  1. Address distracting nervous habits. Observe your witness during preparation with a particular eye toward spotting nervous habits such as hair-pulling, lip-biting, twitching, or making evasive glances or sounds. Such habits can be extremely distracting generally, and certainly on video. Bring such mannerisms to the witness’s attention during preparation so that they are (hopefully) eliminated or at least reduced when the video recording begins.
  2. Advise against long pauses. Although long pauses in responding to a question are generally not reflected in a stenographically recorded deposition, such pauses in a video deposition may reflect adversely on the deponent’s testimony.
  3. Stress importance of appearance. Remind the witness not to slouch, to speak clearly and evenly, and to look directly at the examining attorney rather than at the camera. Also tell the witness to dress in a neat, conservative manner in the dark, solid colors and blue tones that appear best on video.
  4. Foresee and prevent distractions. Some distractions wouldn’t be on the record in a stenographically recorded deposition, e.g., smoking, telephone calls, or other interruptions, but can derail a video deposition. Consider all possible distractions and do whatever is possible to eliminate them.
  5. Make an expert look good. If a deposition will be taken at an expert’s place of business, the setting should be organized and “under control,” reflecting the authority and standing of the expert as a professional.

For more tips on effective use of discovery, turn to CEB’s California Trial Practice: Civil Procedure During Trial, chap 12. And for everything you need to know about taking and defending depositions, as well as deposition procedures, check out CEB’s California Civil Discovery Practice, chaps 5-6.

Other CEBblog™ posts on depositions:

© The Regents of the University of California, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

6 replies on “5 Tips for Preparing Your Witness for Video Deposition”

Also, remind the witness not to look at their attorney when they are unsure of how to answer. The jury may miss some of the subtleties of video playback, but they will instantly recognize the deer in the headlights look of a witness looking for a lifeline.

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