Being deposed in a case or testifying in a trial can be nerve-wracking for your client. Everyone handles pressure differently. Some of your clients may do just as well or better than they did during practice while others will struggle on the day of when it is time for them to speak. Alan Fanger provided some tips on preparing anxious clients to testify in an article for Attorney at Work.
Inquire about how they are feeling and validate those feelings.
The first suggestion Fanger makes is to ask your client how they feel about testifying. Find out if they are nervous or afraid about anything. This will help you get an idea of how to ease their anxieties and prepare them in the best way possible. For the clients that are more anxious, you may want to practice more with them. Let your clients know that you acknowledge it can be a nerve-wracking experience and tell them how you will prepare them.
Give your client a full run-down of what will occur on the day of the deposition, arbitration, or trial so they will know exactly what to expect.
Steer your client's focus to the process.
Once your client is comfortable with what their role is, tell them to try to focus on the process and what they have practiced without thinking about the results. Fanger says," I advise my clients to let me worry about how the answers would impact the case. Too many cases go off the rails when clients obsess over testifying in a manner that they believe will please counsel or enhance their position."
For more tips on preparing your anxious clients for deposition and trial, click here to read Fanger's Attorney at Work article.