While many are becoming acquainted with remote technology through Zoom happy hours with family, friends, and colleagues, people may need pointers for being deposed through the inter-web. Some of these tips apply for in-person depositions as well, so keep them handy when this crisis is over. We’re all about bang for our buck, right? Keep reading if you want practical tips for your witness to make that upcoming remote deposition go a little smoother for all parties.
Beware technical issues
It can be a wonderful thing, or pure hell. Connection is everything. Verify with your witness that they have reliable, stable internet to attend the remote deposition. Confirm they have a VPN, double-check their email address so they get the link to show up on time, and don’t forget the test call! You want to be certain there are no technical difficulties when you’re all assembled to take your witness’ testimony.
You also want to make sure their microphone and web camera are working, their audio is good, and they are equipped to attend a remote deposition. Time is precious to everyone involved in your remote deposition. Don’t waste any by not taking the time to ensure everyone can successfully connect and stay continuously connected throughout the proceeding.
Dress to impress
Any witness should want to be taken seriously. True, we’re all at home. This is still a deposition, and no one has any excuse to show up looking sloppy, or in inappropriate clothing. Dark, solid colors are best. They don’t distract, so people can focus on what is being said. None of the objections should have anything to do with anyone’s attire. Grooming matters. Remind your witness to be tidy, professional, and keep it simple.
Not everyone is a great orator. They are few and far between in history, and no one expects your witness to be Churchill. But they should speak clearly and slowly. Speaking too quickly over videoconference can be painful to everyone’s ears, and particularly hard on the court reporter taking down the record from their home.
All parties should take extra care to enunciate and slow it down just a bit. Don’t be surprised if the reporter requests people to slow down. We are used to speaking quickly in conversation. But as attorneys know and constantly remind witnesses in depositions, a deposition is not a conversation. Remind your witness beforehand and at the start of the deposition to speak clearly and slowly. In actuality, it will make the process move along at a better pace and be more efficient in the end.
Where should your witness sit with their laptop to give their testimony? Probably not the in kitchen near mealtime, or in the family room if they have little ones engaging in distance learning or good wholesome fun. A quiet, well-lit room is best. You and opposing counsel want to see your witness. You want to notice facial reactions and body language. You want to read them as well as hear them. It would be a good idea to have them test their proposed “deposition room” on the test call so you know that you can see them in the actual deposition.
In any deposition, in person or virtual, the witness is the star of the show. They need to be prepared. Share these tips with your witness to ensure a smooth remote deposition and to keep your case moving forward in these strange times.