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?
Good experts are good performers, without being theatrical. They keep an eagle’s eye on their jurors – checking out the level of interest, noting which juror is asleep, which is bored. The worst time for experts to testify is after lunch, between the hours of 1:30 and 3:00. So during that time, they have to be especially innovative – talk louder, show an interesting prop or exhibit or get out of the witness chair and address the jurors directly (with the judge’s permission, of course.) All the while, these tasks must be carried out maintaining a demeanor of “relaxed excellence,” an attitude which communicates control, leadership and power.
So, is it possible to learn the skills involved in communicating these subtle nuances? Or do you have to be born with a special sensitivity and natural talent? As complicated a job as it is, being a good expert witness can be learned. And most of the learning has to do with making the nonverbal language – which is spoken on an unconscious level – conscious. By bringing the silent, subtle messages that are communicated nonverbally to light, and examining them through the lens of reason, one can gain control over that language and begin to use it in an intelligent, purposeful way.