Testifying in Court: A Few Simple Guidelines

As an attorney, I know that testifying in court can be very stressful for my clients.  Here are a few simple guidelines I have picked up from judges and other attorneys that can help with the process:

  1. Carefully listen to and focus on the question being asked;
  2. Pause for a few seconds before answering if you need time to think;
  3. If you have a tendency to try and answers questions quickly then slowly tap your foot three times after each question before answering;
  4. Answer the question directly;
  5. If the answer is “yes” or “no” then answer “yes” or “no”‘; and
  6. If an answer needs to be explained, explain it after making a direct answer.

Cases can often turn on the credibility of the witnesses.  A witness who directly answers questions will usually appear much more credible to a court.


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