In Five Imperatives for Expert Witnesses, SynchronicsGroup Trial Consultants, one of the oldest jury and trial consulting firms in the country, writes on “Are good experts born, or can they be trained? In this excerpt, they write on showing an open posture to the jurors:
Show an Open Posture to the Jurors The first ingredient of a winning courtroom style is to show an open physical attitude, which illustrates an open psychological attitude. The jurors’ perceptions of an expert’s honesty, sincerity, self-confidence and leadership is formed by how open or closed the expert presents herself to them. The expert who exhibits an open attitude will elicit openness from the jurors; the expert who closes off from the jurors will see the same posture mirrored back from them. The following gestures communicate an open, honest, cooperative attitude:
Keep the abdomen open
People have a natural urge to cover up their abdomen, especially when under stress. Man’s soft, vital organs are located in this part of the body, so when the abdomen is exposed, people feel unprotected and vulnerable. One sees this behavior in the courtroom when witnesses fold their arms over their chest, wear vests and buttoned jackets, hold papers in front of them and generally try to cover up the front of their body. These obstructions, however, close them off from the jurors and create a psychological distance.
Sequestered in their chair behind the bar, experts are closed off from jurors, so they need to make a special effort to keep open. They will want to put their arms on the arm of the chair, instead of folded over their chest or in their laps; unbutton their suit jacket; and avoid stacking papers and/or books in front of them. Keeping an open abdomen is a courageous, receptive posture reflecting self-confidence and sincerity.