Tips on Taking the Witness Stand

Tips on Taking the Witness Stand

This past week, I was able to get my first up-close look at how a trial works from start to finish. Prior to this past week, the closest I have ever been to a trial is through a textbook when looking at famous cases such as Plessy v. Ferguson or Miranda v. Arizona. When reading a textbook, I can’t help but relate it to the closest depiction of what a trial looks like and how it feels to actually be in a court of law. For me, the first examples that came to mind were television shows and movies such as Law and Order and Legally Blonde. Needless to say, the first morning I was feeling quite nervous about what to expect.

After the first day of trial, my nerves were calmed and I realized how different the process was in regards to how I grew up watching it on television. Then, I started to think about all of the people who had to testify and actually be the center of attention in the courtroom, and how much pressure that would have been if I had been in that situation. Here are a few tips on how to feel confident in the courtroom when asked to testify:

1. Dress Appropriately

When appearing in court, it is important that you are dressed professionally. Wear something that you would feel comfortable wearing to a job interview. This will make you feel confident since everyone else that is appearing in court usually wears the same attire.

2.     Entering the Courtroom

When entering the courtroom to testify, be prepared for that brief moment when all eyes will be on you. Do not be afraid to make eye contact with the judge, lawyer, jury, or anyone else who may be in the room.

3.     When taking the oath

When taking the oath, remember to maintain eye contact and really listen to what the person relaying the oath is saying. Keep your body language positive and make sure to create a great first impression.

4.     Prepare for the questions you will be asked

First, remember to breathe. Listen carefully to the questions being asked, and never be afraid to admit that you may not know the answer. Answer all questions being asked to the best of your ability. In turn, remember to not ramble on and be as specific as possible to avoid confusion.

5.     Remain Calm

Entering a courtroom is intimidating enough, but being asked to testify can lead you to a whole new level of stress. Remember to remain calm and that the judge, jury, lawyers, and so on are people just like you. Never let the scenes involving Reese Witherspoon (Legally Blonde) or Jack McCoy (Law and Order) make you feel any pressure when taking the witness stand. 


This past week, I was able to get my first up-close look at how a trial works from start to finish. Prior to this past week, the closest I have ever been to a trial is through a textbook when looking at famous cases such as Plessy v. Ferguson or Miranda v. Arizona. When reading a textbook, I can�t help but relate it to the closest depiction of what a trial looks like and how it feels to actually be in a court of law. For me, the first examples that came to mind were television shows and movies such as Law and Order and Legally Blonde. Needless to say, the first morning I was feeling quite nervous about what to expect.