Being Clear on the Record During Depositions and Hearings

As an attorney preparing for any kind of deposition or hearing in the near future, you’ll likely be taking a few different steps and approaches. One that’s vital for any such setting, whether your hearing is remote or in-person and no matter its general theme: How to be as clear and straightforward as possible while on the record to ensure that your client’s message or goals come across.

At Phoenix Deposition Services, we’re proud to offer several services that play a major role in this area. We offer both general deposition and remote deposition court reporting services, plus an array of related transcription and repository services, that allow the record to be clear and concise during any kind of deposition or other court proceeding.

If you’re an attorney preparing for any kind of deposition, you also play a role here — one you should be carefully considering. Here are some basic tips on being as clear as possible for the record, including not just verbal areas, but also non-verbal cues and related concepts.

Know the Type of Reporting Being Done

First and foremost, it pays to have advanced knowledge of the type of reporting that will be done during your deposition. This includes knowing if real-time captioning or other transcriptions will be available, as well as whether there will be an audio or video recording.

Each type of recording has different considerations. For example, if you know there will only be an audio recording, you can focus more on verbal elements like your diction, intonation, and the like. But if you know there will be a video recording as well, you’ll want to also focus on non-verbal cues like eye contact, facial expressions, and gestures.

Be Aware of Your Tone

Your tone is important no matter the type of deposition being done or what’s being recorded. It can be easy to get caught up in the emotions of the moment and allow your tone to become angry, defensive, or otherwise unprofessional.

No matter what’s being asked or how you feel about it, do your best to maintain a calm and collected demeanor. This will come across better on the record — court reporters will absolutely include things like an angered tone or other such changes in their transcriptions — and will also help you to be more clear-headed as you answer.

Don’t Use Filler Words

Filler words like “um,” “ah,” and “like” can be a major distraction when trying to listen to or read a deposition. They can also make you come across as nervous, unprepared, or uncertain — none of which are good qualities for an attorney.

Practice avoiding filler words by taking some time to record yourself ahead of the deposition. Listen back to the recording and take note of any filler words you use, then work on finding alternative ways to pause or emphasize without using them.

Avoid Cross-Talk

Another important concept for keeping the record clear and concise is avoiding cross-talk. This is when two or more people are talking at the same time, making it difficult to understand who is saying what.

Cross-talk can happen easily in a deposition setting, especially when emotions are running high. Be aware of this possibility and make a conscious effort to avoid talking over others or interrupting them while taking part.

This can be a bit more difficult during remote depositions, as there can be a bit of a delay between when someone speaks and when you hear them. In these cases, do your best to wait a beat or two after the other person stops talking before beginning your response.

Use Rephrasing When Needed

There will be times during a deposition where a witness may not fully understand a question or may need clarification before they can answer. In these cases, it’s perfectly acceptable — and often encouraged — to rephrase the question.

Not only does this help to ensure that the witness understands what’s being asked, but it also gives you a chance to word the question in a way that’s more clear and concise. This can be especially helpful if the question was originally worded in a way that’s confusing or difficult to understand.

Remember, the goal is to ensure that everything that’s said during the deposition is as clear as possible. If there’s any doubt about the meaning of a question or answer, it’s better to err on the side of caution.

Preparing the Witness

Your own speech and actions are very important for the record, and so are the speech and actions of your witness.

Before the deposition, take some time to discuss with your witness how important it is to be clear and concise when answering questions. This includes avoiding filler words, cross-talk, and speaking in a calm and collected manner.

You should also emphasize the importance of paying attention to non-verbal cues. This means maintaining eye contact, using facial expressions to convey meaning, and being aware of body language. By preparing your witness ahead of time, you can help to ensure that their deposition goes smoothly and that their answers are clear and concise.

Look Professional

Even if there won’t be any video footage of the deposition, it’s important to look professional. This means dressing in business attire and making sure that your hair and makeup are well-groomed.

You should also make sure that your body language is open and confident. Sit up straight, avoid fidgeting, and make eye contact when speaking. By looking and acting the part, you can help to instill confidence in your witness and make it more likely that their answers will be clear and concise.

By following these simple tips, you can help to ensure that your deposition or hearing goes smoothly and that the record is as clear and concise as possible. For more on this, or to learn about any of the ways our Phoenix court reporters assist with this process, contact the team at Phoenix Deposition Services today.