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It Could Happen to You: New Book Details Advice on Being a 'Better Witness'

Co-authored by Angela M. Dodge, Ph.D., and John H. Ryan, Ph.D., ‘The Better Witness Handbook: A Guide for Testifying at a Deposition, Hearing or Trial’ is a practical and fact-based ‘how to’ for those who have been called to give testimony and think, “What next?” Covering issues ranging from becoming a better communicator to surviving a barrage from an aggressive lawyer, Dodge and Ryan offer sound advice, sure to make even the most nervous witness feel better prepared and more confident.


Olalla, WA -- (SBWIRE) -- 01/14/2014 -- Being called as a witness is not a pleasant prospect for most people.

It can be a nerve-wracking experience, and it’s a rare individual who understands the legal process well enough to feel well prepared to answer effectively. Although the witness may know the case, or what they want to say, getting that information across to others may be another story.

“Every day, people give important testimony at legal proceedings without knowing the basic ground rules or having some practice in how to listen and respond effectively to questions they will be asked,” says Angela Dodge, Ph.D., who co-authored a new book entitled, ‘The Better Witness Handbook: A Guide for Testifying at a Deposition, Hearing or Trial’ with John H. Ryan, Ph.D. “They often don’t know what to expect, have fears of being manipulated into giving a misleading answer, or worry about how they will come across to judges and jurors.”

As Dodge points out, the book may be one that you hope you’ll never need, but it certainly requires a space on your bookshelf. “It can happen to anyone. I speak with people each day who are blindsided by the announcement that they will have to testify, and they feel ill-equipped for what’s to come. They wish they’d learned what to expect and how to act.”


People with little or no experience as a witness have many valid concerns and questions. This helpful guide addresses many of these concerns, and it provides practical advice for questions such as:

What is the difference between a deposition and hearing or trial? Why is my deposition being taken? Who will be there? What kinds of questions will be asked, and how can I best answer them? How can I avoid clever lawyer traps or attempts to put words in my mouth? What should I do if my memory fails me and I can’t recall an important fact? How can I get through a difficult cross-examination? What are the best ways to control worry and anxiety? How should I dress to make a good impression? Should I act differently at a deposition versus a trial? How can I become a better communicator?

After reading this book, a person will know what to expect and be well-prepared to face any questioner with confidence, whether at a deposition, hearing, or in the courtroom. In short, the person will be a better witness. It includes many examples that will help a witness understand potential traps, and how to get clarity on exactly what is being asked.

Giving testimony may seem exciting, or glamorous, but as John Ryan is well aware, it’s very serious business and something that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

“Despite television portrayals, giving testimony under oath is not the same as having a conversation. In reality, it is unlike any form of communication most witnesses have had,” says Ryan.

Continuing, “Let’s be honest – people hope that they will never be put into this situation. But if it does happen, a basic familiarity with the legal process and an opportunity to practice various question-answer formats enables a witness to enter the legal arena with less anxiety and more confidence.”

‘The Better Witness Handbook: A Guide for Testifying at a Deposition, Hearing or Trial’ is available now directly from the publisher (http://www.dodgepublications.com) or from Amazon.com

About the Authors:
Angela M. Dodge, Ph.D. is a litigation psychologist whose consulting practice is based in the Seattle-Tacoma area of Washington State. She has prepared several thousand witnesses to give more effective and compelling testimony. Her expertise in assisting with jury selection, conducting pre-trial focus groups, and in preparing witnesses for deposition and trial has earned her a solid reputation as a consultant and conference speaker. In addition to her practice, she is currently lead author on a series of handbooks on specific jury-focused strategies for contemporary trial practice.

John H. Ryan, Ph.D. is a senior partner with Dodge Consulting & Publications, LLP. An experienced consultant and clinical psychologist, Dr. Ryan has 35 years of experience in communications, group dynamics, stress management, and mediation. As an expert in interpersonal dynamics and human behavior, he provides a variety of litigation consulting services, including witness preparation, jury selection, and pre-trial focus groups.