This tip may sound obvious, but many witnesses simply fail to listen to a question before answering. This is a big no no. Carefully listen to and think about each question before offering an answer.
2. Do Not Guess
Only answer what you know. Do not guess, speculate, theorize, or hypothesize. Never say "well, it's possible," or "that could be right." If you do not know an answer, say so. You will never get into trouble for saying "I don't know."
3. Provide First-Hand Knowledge Only
Never answer a question based on "well, this is what Mary told me. . ." Only answer questions where you have first-hand knowledge of the facts.
4. Do Not Volunteer Information
Answer only the question asked - nothing more. Volunteering information or going off on a narrative (i.e., a long-winded story) will only get you into trouble. Bottom line: do not use seven words when four will do.
5. Avoid Humor and Sarcasm
A deposition is not the place to show off quick wit. Your statements might later be taken out of context and come back to haunt you.
6. Silence is Golden
Never feel obligated to respond to silence. If the examining attorney pauses in his or her questioning, let him or her be the first to break the silence.
7. Dress Comfortably, But Well
Depositions can last several hours, so it is important to be comfortable. That said, track pants, a hoodie, and flip flops should probably be avoided. Being overly casual can affect your credibility in the eyes of the examining attorney or, if it is a video deposition, the judge or jury.
8. Pause is Power
Pause before answering each question. Not only will this give you time to think about the question, it will also give your attorney an opportunity to state any appropriate objections.
9. Do Not Be Vulgar
Swearing should be avoided because it can tarnish your credibility in the eyes of the judge or jury.
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