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How to Give Testimony on a Witness Stand

Witnesses are often nervous about testifying on the witness stand and can look foolish, dishonest, or confused. Do yourself a favor and give your testimony by making yourself aware of the possible pitfalls.


  • Step 1: Make a good impression Dress conservatively, with a minimum of jewelry and accessories. Tone down your hairstyle and makeup when you give testimony. Despite our resistance to the idea, appearances sway opinions.
  • TIP: Witnesses are often reluctant to take time to think because of the assumption that jurors will suspect they are hedging or lying.
  • Step 2: Answer truthfully, listen closely Tell the truth, but only answer the questions that are asked. Don't elaborate unless you're asked to do so. Listen closely and be sure you understand the question; don't rush to answer. Request a rephrasing of the question if you're confused.
  • Step 3: Avoid looking at your attorney Maintain eye contact with the attorney addressing you and don't appeal to or look at your own attorney or anyone else in the courtroom, which can give the impression that you doubt your account of the facts.
  • Step 4: Stick to the facts Stick to the facts as you know them, rather than offering a guess, which can reflect on your story and eventually destroy your credibility.
  • Step 5: Use clear body language Maintain an even emotional keel. Sit up, and be attentive, direct, and strong. Be relaxed enough to avoid showing aggravation.
  • FACT: In 2010, a Detroit woman was removed from a jury and fined for posting a comment on Facebook declaring a defendant guilty.

You Will Need

  • Conservative appearance
  • Truth
  • Facts
  • Calm emotions
  • Strategic pauses

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