Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Credibility Builders

As chair of the Labor and Employment Law Section of the Orange County Bar Association, I have the privilege of serving our membership by arranging for topic speakers at each monthly meeting.  This month, the topic was "The Crown Jewel of Your Case" and that is the credibility of your client and witnesses.  The presenters were Neil Larsen Palmer, Ph.D. and Janet Larsen Palmer, Ph.D. of the Comunication Excellence Institute.

Witness preparation is therefore critical to an attorney preparing his case generally.  Credibility consists of Substance X Power X Openness.  Substance is the value of your knowledge and competency.  Power is the reach of your influence and position.  Openness is your ability to generate trust through authenticity.

In face to face situations 93% of your impact in communication comes through non-verbal channels:  body language and voice delivery.

Here are the top 15 non-verbal credibility builders in deposition and courtroom testimony:

1.  Sit upright with excellent posture, shoulders back, and leaning slightly forward.
2.  One hand should never touch the other, and never make a barrier with your arms.
3.  Take up as much body space at the table as you can comfortably.
4.  Make sure both hands are always visible and out of parallel.
5.  Lift your hand gestures off the table occasionally to make a memorable point, and show your open palms as often as possible.
6. Avoid preening and pacifying gestures (keep your hands off your face).
7.  Keep your hands/fingers away from your mouth.
8.  Hold your head straight (not tilted to the side or up, or down), with your chin parallel to the table top.
9.  Adopt a cooperative, positive demeanor to enhance your likeability.
10.  Maintain direct eye contact with your questioner, during both the question-asking and the conclusion of your answer.  During longer answers, expand your eye contact to include the jury.
11.  Take at least one "beat" before answering. (short pause)
12.  Speak with slightly increased volume.
13.  Emphasize words to avoid a monotone.
14.  Speak in a strong voice, with downward inflection at the end of sentences.
15.  Above all:  Never let 'em see you sweat.

"Give your evidence," said the King; "and don't be nervous, or I'll have you executed on the spot."  -- Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

"If the pink slip doesn't fit, get redressed!"
Click to see my wardrobe of remedies. Employee Rights Attorney

No comments: