Tips for Witnesses Before an Online Deposition
1. Bring a Photo ID. The court reporter will have to ensure that the witness has been properly identified and will ask for a non-expired ID. Preferably, use a driver’s license, passport or state issued ID card. If you need to use a different form of ID, please ask in advance.
2. No Kids. No Pets. The most common distractions are kids and pets. If you had to give testimony at trial, you would not bring your dog and cat to the courtroom. Find a sitter for all pets and kids during your online deposition.
3. No Distracting Backgrounds. Make sure the room you choose for the witness has nothing distracting in the background that can distract a juror when the video is later shown at trial (posters, artwork, people walking by, etc). If you cannot find a blank wall in your house, we can ship you a backdrop to ensure a plain background.
4. Test Your Camera Angle. The witness should look directly into the camera. When jurors later watch the video, it needs to look like the witness is looking right at them. Humans rely on eye contact to assess the truthfulness of a witness. Often, the witness gets distracted and instead looks at the video feed of the person asking them questions. Put a sticker by the webcam so you remember to look at it when answering questions. Likewise, make sure that the webcam is not above or below your eyelevel. Our reporters can assist you in properly staging the camera. If the angle is not straight on, it will often appear to jurors like the witness is looking down at them. Again, we can provide a webcam if you do not have one.
5. Lighting is very important. Make sure that you are in a well-lit room and there is no light source directly behind you. In other words, make sure that you are not sitting with a window behind you. Any natural light should come from behind the camera. Our reporters can help assess the lighting in your deposition.
6. Do Not Use Your Phone. We have had many witnesses try to use their cell phone for the videoconference call. This creates countless problems. The witnesses and/or phone moves frequently, the witness becomes distracted by the phone, the phone pauses the videoconference when someone calls them. All of these are major problems. If your witness does not have a laptop or desktop, we can provide one.
7. Dress Appropriately. Dress just like you would if you were going to the courthouse. No pajamas, no swimsuits, no tops without bottoms, and wear a shit. Yes, we have had all of this stupidity occur.
8. Mute Your Mic on Breaks. If you go on a break, always mute your mic. Otherwise, everyone will hear all of your personal communications.
9. Lock your chairs so they do not rock. Your posture should be strong and professional, not lax. Keep the chair in a steady and upright position.
10. Keep a Drink Nearby. You will likely get thirsty or have a dry throat at some point during the deposition. Keep hydration options within arm’s reach.
11. Arrive Early. Make sure to login to the videoconference at least 20 minutes prior to its scheduled start time. This gives everyone time to test the system and fix any technical problems that may arise.
12. Ask for Breaks if Needed. Just like an in-person deposition, you are free (and should) ask for breaks whenever you need one.
13. Test the Connection. We will send you a test link to ensure that the videoconference link works. Please test it at least 24 hours prior to the deposition.