My number five tip for how to give an effective deposition is to get clear on the question that is being asked of you.
In every day conversation, it is common that we ascertain what the person that we’re speaking with is really getting at. We know what their question is and frequently we don’t even wait for them to finish their question. We just jump right in with our answer because we already know what they’re saying.
It is really hard to turn that off when you get into a deposition. You hear the attorney asking you a question and you think you know where he’s going with that question and you just jump right in there and you start answering the question, frequently before the attorney has finished asking the question. Also frequently, without really understanding what the question is.
This is very, very dangerous. What you end up with is a transcript from the court reporter that shows that the attorney was asking one question, but that you’re really answering another. You know that you were answering another question and I may know that you were answering another question, but to anyone who is reviewing that transcript, it’s not going to appear that way. It’s really, really important that you make sure that you understand the question before you start to answer it.
It’s hard to have your deposition taken, but it is also sometimes very difficult to take an effective deposition. Attorneys can tie themselves into knots sometimes in trying to ask just the right question. Every attorney has been there before. Where they know what they’re trying to get at, but they’re having trouble formulating their question.
One part of the deposition where you can actually maybe enjoy this a little bit is watching the attorney on the other side of you tie himself into knots, or herself into knots. One interesting and funny example of this was the deposition of Justin Bieber. The attorney was attempting to ask him a very nuanced question and had really tied himself into knots as he was trying to get that question out there.
I can really empathize with the lawyer on the other end of that questioning. It was hilarious the way that Justin Bieber pointed it out and it was actually a very effective way of dealing with that question.
If you’re trying to please everyone around the conference room table, you might let the attorney off the hook and you might say, okay, I think I know what you’re getting at here, counselor. I’m going to go ahead and answer the question that I think you’re trying to ask, even though you haven’t been able to manage to ask it. Don’t do that. If the attorney’s tied up in knots, let him tie himself up into knots. That’s great. That’s fantastic for you. Make sure that the attorney asks you a clear question. Make sure that you understand that question. Pause. Give your attorney a chance to object. Then answer the question, but only after you’re clear on what that question is.
That is my fifth tip on how to give an effective deposition. Get clear on the question.
Please view my other videos on my top seven tips for giving an effective deposition. Click through on any of these options and you’ll find me going into greater detail and analysis: