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Witness Preparation for Trials and Depositions
~Consulting on Demeanor and Body Language~
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As a litigator, you want your witnesses to be seen as competent, trustworthy, and likeable. But most witnesses, under the strain of the testifying process, do things nonverbally that undercut one or all of those three qualities. A fearful expression here. An averted glance there. And maybe even a disgusted look—any of these can turn off a swing-vote juror or needlessly antagonize the other side, causing negative emotional fallout that words can’t counteract.

As more and more depositions are videotaped, smart trial attorneys are engaging consultants to help their client look just as credible and likeable in the deposition as they would in the courtroom.

When you go outside the firm for trial consulting, you expect results FAST! In a matter of a few hours, Drs. Janet and Neal Larsen Palmer of Communication Excellence Institute can coach your witnesses to be as credible in their nonverbal communication as they are in the verbal testimony they give. Jan and Neal Palmer use videotaping in a special way to quickly zero in on the primary nonverbal features that characterize high credibility in the courtroom:

  • Gestures and movement patterns
  • Body posture
  • Facial expressions
  • Vocal inflection and timing
  • Eye contact

It all happens fast. The Palmers’ average consulting time for one client is 4-6 hours, over 1 or 2 sessions.

But seeing is believing. By the end of their time together with the Palmers, your witnesses or clients will also feel as confident and comfortable inside as they look on the outside, having seen their own dramatic improvement for themselves. And the greater their internal confidence, the greater their poise and ease at the deposition table or on the witness stand.

The Palmers have brought together two career lifetimes in communication study and research to help attorneys enhance the effectiveness of their witnesses’ delivery and impression. Dr. Janet Larsen Palmer, President of CEI and graduate of the renowned School of Communication at Northwestern University, draws on her background as a Professor of Communication at Southern Illinois University and Arizona State University where she trained actors and persuasive speakers. Dr. Neal Larsen Palmer, CEI’s Executive Vice President, brings his extensive training in linguistics and public speaking to focus on witnesses’ verbal delivery, including word choices, vocal features, and verbal confidence. Together, the Palmers bring out the best in witnesses’ self-presentation.

Jan and Neal Palmer can coach your witnesses at your location or at the CEI studio in San Dimas. To protect privilege, an attorney is present throughout the coaching process. Of course, the Palmers always ensure complete confidentiality in all their work, and are happy to sign a confidentiality statement, if requested.

Although they work as a couple, the Palmers bill as one person, giving you the benefit of two consultants for the price of one. Their professional fee is $425 per hour ($3,950 per day to serve clients out-of-town). They request an initial retainer of $1,700 before the first meeting. This reflects one hour of review of case documents and 3 hours @ $425 for the first meeting. Any additional sessions are on a pay-as-you-go basis @ $425 per hour.

CEI provides all the videotaping equipment, including a playback unit, if needed, and the digital tapes become part of your work product.

If you would like to learn more about how the Palmers can help you prepare your client’s demeanor for a deposition or trial, please email the Institute at or call us at 800-410-4CEI (4234).

What do our attorney clients say about CEI's Witness Demeanor consulting?

“I spent 4 days preparing my client for his testimony, but the 4 hours the two of you spent were the most valuable.”

“I’ve never used anyone before to work with my clients on their demeanor. I was skeptical at first, but you guys were great! My client got a lot out of your comments, and I learned, too. I’ll definitely be using you again.”

“When my client entered the room for the final mediation hearing on his age discrimination lawsuit, there was an audible gasp from the other side. They hadn’t seen him in 6 months. You and Neal had shown him how to walk with a spring in his step, how to make his statement with youthful energy, and how to modulate his voice to take years off his vocal presence. The case settled that day, even though the other side had repeatedly refused to consider settling. Thank you, Jan and Neal.”

“I’ve never had this happen before. During a break in the arbitration hearing, the lead attorney from the other side complimented [client] on his excellent demeanor. He said he’d never seen someone so attentive, respectful, and in-the-moment as the plaintiff. Jan and Neal, you would have been proud of [client]. He did everything you told him to do.”

“We settled at the mediation. [Client] made a presentation and I believe did way better than he would have without the assistance from both of you.”

“I’ve made my living as an expert witness for 35 years, and I have never ever heard the things you told me today. This information on body language is fascinating. I will try to incorporate everything you said.”

“It’s amazing how differently my client came off on the videotape, after you told him what he should do nonverbally. I can’t believe the difference in the impression he made!”

"I really enjoyed working with you, and I think you really helped [client]. I I look forward to our second session."

“I’m very impressed with the work you do. We’ll use you again anytime we have clients who need to ‘tune up’ their demeanor.”

“Another great program!  We thank you for sharing your expertise on protecting our crown jewel - witness credibility - through nonverbal communication. I think our lawyers were fully engaged and learned a lot. I am hoping they used the 15 points to consider their own credibility in their interactions with clients, opposing counsel and judges (and maybe even their own partners and associates!). You both were excellent: interesting content and entertaining to boot.  My deponents and witnesses could really use the credibility skills. As I get ready for some depositions over the coming months, I'd like to be able to tell my clients about you.”


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