Advising an Oncology Expert Witness about the Importance of Proper Communication Skills When Giving Depositions or Trial Testimony

An oncology medical expert witness can add tremendous value to a legal case, but he or she may not be accustomed to the preferred speaking style and communication skills necessary to succeed in court.

It is just as important to determine how an individual will communicate with the court and provide testimony as it is to carefully evaluate the expert’s background. Remember that the jury will be made up of people who have to make a determination about both the credibility of the expert witness and the testimony.

What follows are several tips to discuss with an oncology medical expert witness to ensure that their speaking tone, style, and the information provided is valuable and persuasive.

Conduct a Practice Round

Even if the expert has testified in court before, it is worthwhile to walk through sample questions on your own.
Have someone else take notes while you work through the practice round so that you can circle back and help the expert understand any communication challenges that could distract from their testimony. Most people are not aware of their natural speaking habits, such as looking up to the ceiling or failing to maintain eye contact. In court, these issues make a difference.

Remind the Oncology Medical Expert to Speak Slowly

Doctors, in particular, tend to speak quickly, and the tense nature of a courtroom paired with cross examination can exacerbate the issue. Appearance, delivery style, and diction are all important when preparing for testimony, whether it is at deposition or in trial.

Speaking slowly and taking the appropriate time to consider the question before framing a response is essential. Trial preparation with your oncology medical expert witness is strongly recommended.

Advise Him or Her about Being Comfortable with “I Don’t Know”

One way that the opposing side may attempt to discredit or raise questions about an expert’s knowledge is to ask questions outside the scope of his or her area of expertise.

An oncology expert who does not have enough background serving in depositions or trials may be uncomfortable using “I don’t know” as an answer because many experts feel the need to answer all questions posed to them.

If the individual is not comfortable with the topic at hand, an appropriate response is “I would have to speculate.” This can be extremely important in crafting a response that maintains the expert’s credibility if the expert is unsure of the answer.

Recommend Complete Answers

Although technical terms are commonly used by an oncology medical expert witness, providing a complete answer in a way that is readily understood by the entire jury is critical.

The attorney may need to ask follow-up questions to clarify the testimony of the medical expert witness, but the person providing testimony should be prepared to give complete, full, and clear answers.

These tips allow an expert’s testimony to be heard and understood clearly by the jury. At Elite Medical Experts, we hand select top-tier oncology experts for your case and provide strategic support throughout the case. Contact us today to secure a practicing, university-faculty oncology medical expert witness.

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