So, your deposition has been noticed. Even if you have nerves of steel, being deposed can still be an incredibly stressful and nerve-wracking experience. Here are some tips on how to keep your cool and get through your deposition without breaking (too much of) a sweat.
- You set the pace. Go slowly. Pause. This can be taking a 3 count before answering, or making sure you take a restorative breath. Take all of the time that you need – you have a captive audience, and they aren’t going anywhere until they’ve gotten all of the information that they need from you.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. What you really want to do is make sure that you answer the question that is being asked – not giving the information that you think the attorney is looking for. If it helps you, repeat the question back to the interrogator.
- Only answer what is asked. Do not offer your opinion, unless it is specifically sought in the question. And don’t feel that you have to fill the silence if the interrogator isn’t speaking – he or she is likely gathering thoughts and trying to figure out the next question, or is purposely quiet to see if you’ll keep talking and offer valuable information that they otherwise would not have had.
- Read the documents. The attorney will likely have stacks of documentation that they will want to go through with you. You may feel the need to skim same quickly so that the questioning can commence. Resist the urge! Make sure that you actually read the document that is presented to you, so that you know what it is and what it actually says. Since you set the pace (see #1 above), you’re allowed to take whatever time you need to review the paperwork prior to proceeding.
- Make a record. Remember that the only thing that matters is the record. When I say the record, I’m referring to the verbatim record that is being taken contemporaneously by the stenographer (court reporter). There will be many people in the room – the parties to the litigation (if you are a witness and not a party yourself), their attorneys, and the stenographer. Things can get awkward – people can make facial expressions, sigh loudly, roll their eyes, etc. – but don’t let all of that be a distraction. Unless it’s a videotaped deposition (most aren’t), the only thing that matters are the words that are spoken and transcribed. The rest is just noise.
If you are noticed for a deposition and would like to consult with an attorney, do not hesitate to contact me at 732-545-4717 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.