Video depositions create a visual record of the deposition testimony and offer a valuable addition to standard written transcripts. A video deposition can be beneficial to any litigation process because there’s no substitute for viewing behaviors and mannerisms with your own eyes and ears; especially when it comes to showing the testimony in court to the judge and jury.

Properly preparing your witness is crucial to a successful video deposition. After providing videography services for hundreds of depositions, our certified legal videography team has created a checklist of six tips for preparing a witness to ensure that you get the most out of your video deposition:

  1. Posture: Non-verbal body language is a major factor in witness credibility. Hunched shoulders and crossed arms project uncertainty and doubt, even without saying a word. A witness should look comfortable and natural. When preparing, direct your witness to sit up in the chair, keep both feet on the floor (no leg crossing), and rest hands on the table to help maintain ideal posture. Avoid leaning back in a chair or fidgeting with the microphone/cord as this can distort the audio. Also, understand that the certified legal videographer will occasionally ask witnesses or counsel to move water or soda bottles from obstructing the camera view. This is always to ensure a professional-looking video.

  2. Expressions: Facial expressions are arguably the most telling in a videotaped deposition. Direct your client to maintain a neutral and agreeable facial expression while listening to questions and giving answers. Avoid common pitfalls, such as smirking, eye rolling during questioning, frowns, or furrowed brows. Avoid looking up at the ceiling or down at the table while answering questions. You can see the major difference in expressions and your jury will too.

  3. Verbal Responses: The goal is to not make the witness’s responses sound rehearsed, which can be a challenge on a videotaped deposition. Instruct your witness to avoid long pauses and short one-word answers, as those behaviors can appear like your client is being elusive. If pertinent, have your witness explain why he or she cannot recall certain facts or dates during a video deposition.

  4. Fidgeting: Nervous fidgeting is another behavior that the video captures. Ask your witness to leave the microphone and microphone chord alone, and keep their hands comfortably on the table.

  5. Clothing: Pastel colors with minimal patterns are the best color choice for videotaped depositions. Unless pertinent to the testimony, suggest limiting large jewelry or flashy clothing. Your witness should appear comfortable but appropriate for a court proceeding. Any sign of discomfort from a fabric choice or fitting issue can be mistaken for the witness hiding something and can possibly lower credibility.

  6. Backgrounds & Lighting: Knowledgeable videographers will suggest the appropriate background. It is ideal to place your witness in front of a blank wall or neutral color backdrop (no paintings, frames, or windows) and away from noisy, high-traffic areas that could take the focus away from your witness. Make sure there are no shadows on a witness’s face or bright background light which can cause overexposure.

Video depositions can be very beneficial to you when presenting evidence to a jury. With these simple tips, we hope you will be able to use videography to its best advantage for you and your client. If you need to schedule a videotaped deposition, call 800-528-3335 to get set up with NAEGELI Deposition & Trial’s personable and professional staff. We have been serving the nation for over 40 years and are ready to serve you 24/7.

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By Marsha Naegeli