Testifying in Court

One of the most nerve-wracking experiences that the person who suffers from performance anxiety can endure is testifying in court. Even for the individual who is slightly nervous about speaking in public, the courtroom can be a shock to the system. A shock that one does not easily recover from. Hostile and beligerent attorneys and prosecutors (and judges!) can wither the coolest of cucumbers in a matter of moments. In my twenty years with the TalkPower program, I have worked with police officers, detectives, psychiatrists, and forensic experts who suffered from intense anticipatory anxiety and public speaking phobia no matter how many times they had performed this service. Nevertheless they were required (because of their jobs) to testify in court. Finally, after attending a TalkPower workshop they were able to testify fluently, being physically comfortable and in control. 

TalkPower exercises were a lifesaver for them. I am sure they will be for you if you practice these procedures with discipline and dedication. TalkPower Workshops provide you with all the tools and exercises you will need. As an example, here are a selection of exercises from the TalkPower program that you can do in advance of your courtroom debut. They will allow you to function on all eight cyclinders, instead of the mumbling/bumbling mess of anxiety that you anticipate in your worse nightmare. 

  1. Make a list of the questions that you anticipate will be asked of you, or if your attorney has given you those questions, so much the better. Of course, you understand that questions will probably be asked that you do not expect. 
  2. Write out a brief answer to each question including those that you are not sure about. Make sure that you answer only the questions you are asked. DO NOT volunteer any additional information: not in your rehearsal and not, heaven forbid, in court.
  3. Do the basic pre-rehearsal routine beginning with the breathing exercise (see earlier blog post for basics or purchase “The New TalkPower” book for more details) and pre-talk routine (purchase “The New TalkPower” book for more details).
  4. In your rehearsal you will end up in the front of an imaginary audience, facing the chair you have just left. Squeeze your toes three times and ask yourself the first question. Squeeze your toes three times and answer the question out loud. (In answering a question, don’t forget to repeat the question before you answer to give yourself time to frame your reply carefully). It’s very important to know when to stop speaking. As soon as you have answered the question, even if you feel like continuing to talk, force yourself to stop. 
  5. Since this is a rehearsal, you can allow yourself the luxury of speaking slowly. Do not try to rush your rehearsal responses. The slower, the better. As Michael Kane said in giving advice to a young actor “speak low, speak slow and don’t talk too much.”

I suggest that you rehearse standing up for the first four days to remind you of the formal setting in a courtroom. After the four days, you can sit down if you wish. Run through your list of questions two times for at least four days before your court appearance.

For more tips and instructions, we welcome you to attend our FINAL 2016 TalkPower Workshops on November 5&6 (if not satisfied, money back guaranteed). 

© 2000-2013 by Natalie H. Rogers