I have long encouraged witnesses to adopt the “Power-Sit” position I developed after observing juror responses to witness body language.
Simply put, the witness sits with their rear planted firmly in the “L” of the chair, which assures good posture without having to think about it. They then are asked to avoid leaning to the left or right, and to keep their back in contact with the back of the chair at all times. The impression jurors receive from the “Power-Sit” is that of a confident, straightforward, credible witness – one whose testimony is far more likely to be believed than the testimony which issues from a witness who slumps, or leans to the left or right, or aggressively forward, to give but a few examples.
Now I’ve always known the impact of the “Power-Sit” on juries, but what I didn’t know, and science has recently discovered, is the impact of the “Power-Sit” on the witnesses themselves. According to Harvard Social psychologist Amy Cuddy’s recent research, “assuming a high power pose for just two minutes before the job interview, the body would generate hormonal changes that corresponded with feeling empowered, comfortable, and less reactive to stress.” In lay-person’s language, the person him/herself experienced greater confidence, ability, and comfort.
What a platform for effective testimony! The stronger your witness feels, the more likely they are to testify well, and the better their testimony will be received.
And all it takes is a little attention to your witness’s body language.