A deposition requires a witness to make an oral statement under oath. It allows both parties to understand the key facts before the start of a trial, which will ensure there will be no surprises when a witness takes the stand.
If you are set to testify at a deposition, you might be unsure about how to act. If that’s the case, read the following advice on how to testify at a deposition.
Listen To Every Question
As it is important to tell the truth at a deposition, you must listen to every question to ensure you understand it. A lawyer might deliberately ask a confusing question. To ensure you answer honestly, you must understand exactly what they are asking. If you don’t, ask them to either repeat or rephrase the question to provide a truthful answer. It might also help to pause before you respond to a question, which will allow you to consider it before replying.
Don’t Make Assumptions
Never make assumptions when testifying at a deposition. It is acceptable to say “I don’t recall” or “I don’t know” if you cannot answer a question accurately. In fact, it is better for your credibility as a witness to do that, rather than provide an estimate or guess.
Only Answer The Questions Asked
Avoid volunteering information that hasn’t been asked at a deposition. Aim to stick to the following responses when possible and truthful:
- I do not recall
- I don’t know
- I don’t understand the question
It will allow you to stick to the facts and avoid filling your statement with unnecessary information. Also, there are deposition services that can transcribe a witness statement, and you can help a court reporter to record your statement by providing verbal answers and avoiding shaking or nodding your head.
Provide Consistent Answers
Opposing counsel might not be pleased with the answers you provide during a deposition. To receive the response they would like, they might ask the question in different ways. Be consistent with your answers and keep them short to avoid overcomplicating your response.
Take Control Of The Pace
A witness can help set the pace of a deposition. While the opposing counsel might attempt to bully you into providing an answer or could attempt to testify for you, you can stop them from doing so by requesting a break or asking for further clarification. You’re also free to finish your answer when counsel interrupts you or railroads your testimony.
Don’t Talk Off The Record
Opposing counsel might attempt to strike up a conversation with you away from a deposition. However, you must avoid off the record conversations, as they could be used against you during a deposition. Instead, only talk to them on the record to avoid providing them with information that may come back to haunt you.
So, if you are set to testify in an upcoming deposition, you should bear the above advice in mind, which can help you to provide clear, honest answers.