While lawyers coach clients and witnesses on the facts, as actors and directors we coach them on putting the facts into a story that they can tell with real feeling. We coach them to conquer the fears and tensions that keep them from being their own best advocates in depositions, arbitration hearings, and trials.
From a director’s perspective, true credibility occurs when the witness’s demeanor, (who he says he is, what he does, and who he appears to be) all come together in a concerted whole. For a defendant, we make sure that the personality of the witness affirms the positive trial themes and undermines those of the opponent. For a plaintiff, the most effective witness preparation technique is to bring emotional clarity to each part of their story. Each witness has their own fear that becomes an obstacle to them being themselves, owning their story, and communicating to the jury.
By using simple theater techniques, On Trial’s witness preparation strategy teaches our clients to:
- Answer questions sincerely, credibly, and honestly
- Deliver their stories vividly and memorably, making themselves the heroes
- Play offense, not defense
- View testifying as an opportunity and not as a burden
- Appear as they would like to be seen – cool, confident, and caring
- Control the spotlight throughout the trial
- Win the trust and sympathy of the jury
Our witness preparation services include:
- Individual witness preparation for deposition, arbitration and trial
- Group witness development: Do you have a company-wide litigation pending? Send your witnesses to “Witness College” for a group preparation session with On Trial.
- Legislative and congressional coaching
- Media preparation: Will your client be giving interviews or speaking at a press conference? On Trial can help prepare your witness for questions from the media and the general public.
- Video review and assessment
On Trial Associates Inc. works together with the trial team through focus groups, witness preparation, and other trial research to identify the most compelling facts in the overall case and develop influential trial themes. OTA goes beyond typical trial consultant services in some unique ways.
Our strength lies in hearing and refining those themes, then crafting them into a human narrative with both factual and emotional logic. An effective narrative will rivet the attention, make the most sense, and become the framework from which the jury will build their decisions. Our innovative techniques include storyboarding, character-assessing interview techniques, and narrative-building scenarios, as well as the traditional methods of mock examinations, concept meetings, and focus groups.
- Identify Client Themes and interweave them with Trial Themes in a story-oriented way
- Harmonize witness testimony with the Trial Themes identified in focus group research using anecdotes and emotional logic
- Reflect Witness and Trial Themes in opening and closing statements through one-on-one coaching
- Predict issues and themes that will resonate on an emotional and “common sense” level with the jury
- Develop witness testimony into a narrative-based story that portrays the witness as the hero
We also work with trial attorneys whose cases may not merit in depth jury research. In those case we use the same approach described here but through consultation, document review and witness prep.
Reading testimony into the record at trial can be incredibly boring for the jury, but it often contains some of the most important evidence for the case. ON TRIAL has the solution- drawing on our years of theater experience, we can cast highly trained professional actors to read the testimony for you, giving a clear, vivid reading that will help you stress the important information and keep the jury engaged and help them remember those vital facts.
We can also provide actors for a variety of other situations, including:
- Reading testimony (such as deposition Q&A’s) into record at trial
- Playing witnesses and lawyers at mock trials
- Role playing at training conferences
- Respondents in focus groups and concept conferences
- Portraying witnesses in witness-protection programs
Acting for Lawyers™
Our Acting for Lawyers™ and “Acting for Professionals” seminars are nationally recognized for their unique, powerful approach to teaching personal presentation and oral advocacy skills through applied theater techniques. We provide coaching for personal presentation, marketing, negotiation, advocacy, team building, and media interviewing.
In-House Seminars: On Trial will design a program to specifically meet the needs of your group. These range from half-day demonstration-lectures on basic personal presentation skills, to day-long advanced presentation training sessions, to short, intensive programs given over a few days.
Group Classes: On Trial offers several classes with an open enrollment twice a year, typically held over the course of several weeks.
- “Introduction to Performance Strategies” develops and defines a systematic approach to prepare the speaker and text for an audience.
- “Advanced Performance Strategies” uses extemporaneous, abstract performing exercises to help participants develop self-confidence, a sense of public self, a drive to perform, and the ability to be themselves in front of any kind of audience.
- Other classes include “Staging Yourself”, “Voice and Body Conditioning”, “Image, Style, and Professional Development”, “Interviewing”, and “Storytelling”
Individual Coaching: On Trial recommends private sessions for those clients who prefer not to participate in a group seminar because of time constraints, sensitivity of speech content, or high visibility practices and cases. Private sessions are more in-depth than group sessions. They enable us to focus specifically on your needs. We will discuss your concerns with you and design the program that best addresses your requirements. Individual training sessions can take place at your office, in a voice studio, or even via video-chat.
Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Workshops: On Trial offers CLE lecture demonstrations for state, local and federal meetings, bar associations and firm retreats. Topics include Acting for Lawyers™, Performance Strategies, Storytelling, Witness Preparation, 10 Steps to Dynamic Presentations, Associate Development, and Individual Marketing Skills.