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Rule of the Room Spotlight #3: Use the Purposeful Pause

7610100582_39459f8851This is the third in our ongoing series about our Rules of the Room. Don’t forget to check out the first and second posts if you missed them. This week, we’ll be discussing “The Purposeful Pause,” one of the most important techniques to surviving a deposition.

A deposition is not like a normal conversation, and it’s vital that your client understands this. The normal rhythms of conversation do not apply, and failing to see that can lead your witness right into a trap. When asked a question, instruct your witness to pause for a breath and take that time to think before answering. This technique leads to a number of advantages.

1: It allows you time to object

If a particular question falls outside of the witness’s function in appearing at the deposition (especially in the case of an expert witness,) the Purposeful Pause will give you time to object to the question. This applies to the whole range of objection-worthy questions, and if your witness properly uses the Purposeful Pause, he or she will not reveal information that is either improper or outside the scope of their expertise.

2: It allows the witness to consider the full question

By exercising the Purposeful Pause, your witness will have time to absorb the full question, as opposed to hastily responding to the question that he or she expected. If a witness is too quick to answer, he or she may misunderstand precisely what was asked and open the door to possibilities that opposing counsel may not have yet considered.

3: It allows the witness to take control of the rhythm of the deposition

Lawyers know that the deposition process can be daunting for the uninitiated, and many will not hesitate to take advantage of that fact. They may adopt a pushy demeanor and ask rapid-fire questions in an attempt to confuse the witness. By learning the Purposeful Pause, your witness will have an effective “parry” in his or her arsenal, negating the effect that this technique may have on him or her.

The Purposeful Pause is one of the most basic and most effective tools for giving a successful deposition, and is the foundation upon which a credible defensive posture can be built.

Check in in two weeks for the next Rule of the Room spotlight: Rule of the Room #4: Only answer the question asked.

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