Knowing when and how to speak in court can make the difference between winning and losing. Here are five ways to make sure your side of story gets heard.
The courtroom can be a strange and stressful place. It can be more formal than you're used to. There’s an order to it that you might not understand. There's a judge who makes a decision that affects your life. And, before you know it, your time in court is over.
That’s why knowing when and how to speak in court is so important. It can make the difference between winning your case and losing it. Here are five tips to follow to make sure your side of story gets heard.
Stay on point
When speaking to the judge, try to keep your side of the story short and on point. Focus on the facts, and nothing but the facts. A good way to do this is write out what you want to say ahead of time and practice it with a family member or friend.
Be polite and calm
Stand when you speak to the judge and call them “Your Honor.” Speak clearly and loud enough for the judge and the other side to hear you. But don’t shout or react to things you don’t like. Now is not the time to express your feelings or vent your emotions. You must keep your temper under control.
Wait your turn
The judge must be able to hear both you and the other side to make a fair decision. Don’t interrupt or speak, unless the judge asks you to.
This is true even if the other side says something that’s not true. Wait until the judge asks you to tell your side of the story. If you have already told your side of the story, wait until the the other side is finished speaking.
Then say: "Your Honor, may I ask [name of person] some questions?"
After the judge agrees, make sure that you use this time to ask questions. Learn more about how to question a witness.
If the judge or anyone else says something that you don’t understand, be honest and ask them to explain it to you. The same goes for a question you don’t know the answer to. Just tell the judge that you don’t know or remember.
Take a deep breath
When we are nervous, we talk fast. Sometimes we argue. While a courtroom can be uncomfortable, it’s also the best place to work out conflicts you can’t resolve in the outside world. So, take a breath and take the opportunity to tell your side of the story the right way.