I recently testified telephonically for the United States Army. During my testimony I realized that there are several ingredients to a testimony by telephone. The following blog post will outline what I consider very important tips when testifying via telephone.
First, like all testimony, do your homework. Read all documents supplied repeatedly and nearly memorize them. Like testifying live, the lawyers, prosecutors and judges want to know what you are looking at while testifying. That is not to say looking at notes is bad, but instead to stress the importance of connecting your communication with the notes that are involved in the case. Remember, when on the phone, you are using only 20% of your communication tools. Body language and facial expressions are not being used during telephone testimony.
This segues nicely into the next tip; use voice tone and inflection to your advantage. For example, when we smile it lights up our face as well as our voice (if we are speaking). When testifying telephonically keep in mind the smile factor. Pay close emphasis to your voice tone and inflection when you are speaking since the majority of your other communication tools are not present. When making a strong point, use pausing and voice inflection to help the court feel your message since they cannot see you delivering your message.
Third, like when providing a testimony in person, it is crucial to rehearse with your lawyer and client. By rehearsing I mean practice a direct line of questioning as well as anticipate cross examination questions. Some of the lawyers I have worked with in the past insist on skipping this very important step. At Primeau Forensics, we take every step to make sure we are available for both our clients and lawyers during our time working together. Before the testimony we take extra care to organize, practice and rehearse; that way when it comes time to testify, there will be little to no mistakes, stutters or hesitations.
Remember, when testifying telephonically, the first rule is to always tell the truth. Keep in mind the words you are saying and the way you are saying them. Remember, the judge and jury are listening and evaluating you by your words because they cannot see your face or body language.