IMPORTANCE OF EYE CONTACT
Eye Contact Communicates Vulnerability
eye contact when they don't know the answer to a question, are
confused, feel intimidated, feel vulnerable. They drop their eyes
to think of an appropriate response. In that split second they
lose their credibility. Losing eye contact is particularly devastating
in the courtroom. A good opposing counsel will pick up on the hesitation
and attack the witness with it.
|To avoid your witnesses being
nailed by opposing counsel, go over the weak parts of the testimony
with them; rehearse the arguments so that they can look opposing
counsel straight in the eye when they give their answers - without
blinking or losing eye contact. Your witnesses should feel so comfortable
with their answers that when challenged, they are able to give their
testimony without faltering - or flinching -when opposing
counsel attacks. By coaching your witnesses through the tough parts
of their testimony to keep their eyes focused on opposing counsel,
you keep your witnesses deflecting those attacks. Instead of hitting,
the attacks miss the target, falling aimlessly and harmlessly by
the wayside, out of the jurors' consciousness.
|Maintaining a steady eye contact
under assault makes your witness look steadfast and invincible in
the eyes of the jurors. Jurors often do not understand the questions
that are being asked, or the answers that are being offered, during
cross-examination. They might miss the substance of the power play,
but they are aware of the struggle. And any witness who meets the
verbal assaults of opposing counsel without batting an eye communicates
self-confidence and authority.
|So when opposing counsel
starts beating up on your witness, coach him/her to deflect the assaults
by maintaining a steady eye contact, never dodging the attacks, never
allowing them to hit.
|How your witness responds to the
assault is the message, more than the assault itself.