Thinking out loud is ordinary, common, and acceptable in regular conversation. However, in a deposition, it can make the difference between solid responses, and responses that give opposing counsel more information than was required – and could damage your case.
For example, to the question: “Are your neck symptoms resolved as we sit here today?” the response was: “Well, my neck was sore from the incision for a while. And I have a pain in my shoulder from that other surgery I had back in ’10, but my neck, yeah, it hurts whenever I try to move my head, like when I drive.”
Thinking out loud gave opposing counsel information regarding residual pain from a prior surgery which could complicate matters for you. Not to say that witnesses should ever hide information, but if the witness had thought through his/her response before verbalizing it, the witness would have limited their answer to the pain experienced as a result of the second surgery – the one at issue.
Help witnesses to do their thinking inside their minds before they verbalize their response. Reassure your witness that the moment or two it takes to organize an answer in their heads will not appear like “fudging” or evading the question. Video-taped role-play as part of witness preparation helps demonstrate to witnesses that “think time” is really very brief, yet critical.