When it comes to legal videography, a picture - or video - is worth a thousand words. More can be conveyed in a video deposition via body language, emotion, inflection, silence, and non-verbal noises like sighs than in a traditional deposition. The next time you’re advising a witness about a video testimonial, consider these things that are better left at home.
What Your Face Tells
When we’re taking a traditional deposition there are only the words on a page to tell the story but when you’re being recorded, the camera captures much more.
- Agitation is often reflected as frequent or exaggerated eye movements.
- Lying or embellishment is reflected in scratching the nose while speaking.
- Hand over the mouth is a sign of lying or deception.
- Head down may signal embarrassment or shame.
- Crossed arms are a sign of defense or reluctance.
While we understand that if your arms are crossed it may mean the room was cold, a jury may see it differently. You face and body tell a story.
Your Laughter Can be Telling
When I was growing up my great-aunt laughed whenever she was nervous. I distinctly remember a medical situation happening to another relative and my aunt was sitting in a corner giggling. At the time I didn’t understand it was a nervous reaction but I do now. It’s the same for you as a witness.
A deposition is a serious undertaking. You’re not requested to give a deposition unless you have a link to the case so please don’t make light of it. While a traditional transcript may not reflect laughter, it will be for all to see in a video deposition. If you’re like my great-aunt, be conscious of your reactions and try to tone it down. A jury might see you as a witness who couldn’t take the case seriously and you could do more harm than good.
Emotions Run High
As long as we’re talking about emotions, let’s talk about when a proceeding gets contentious.
You may have a differing opinion or strong feelings about what you’re being asked, we advise that you keep your emotions in check. Instead of focusing on the emotion, focus on what you know about the case and answer only the questions you’re being asked to the best of your ability. Getting angry or frustrated is just going to make the deposition run longer or harm the case.
If you’re asked to give a video deposition for a Pittsburgh area case, remember that your actions speak louder than your words. Facial expressions, body language, tone, and volume can impact a case and change the outcome. It’s better to leave your emotions at the door.