Photo: Karen Neoh

Trials are often minefields, with bombs (whether large or small) exploding in your case just when you thought all was going smoothly. Your witnesses blunder, get trapped by opposing counsel, judges make decisions unfavorable to your case, etc.

But here’s the thing: no matter what is going on, you can’t let jurors know that things aren’t still going your way. And the most common way you let on, is by reacting with surprise. Not good! Jurors feel that you should know everything about the case if you are truly well-prepared, and they tend to evaluate your reaction of surprise as unprofessional. You need to find a way to mask your “Yikes!” if you are to continue to appear credible in the jurors’ eyes.
A primary way of covering your reaction to the unexpected is to use the following specific body language: simply drop your head down a little, to one side, as if thinking something over or consulting your notes. Once you’ve recovered and know where you’re going, simply raise your head, re-connect your eye focus, and resume from where you left off. Jurors will be left with the very credible impression of a lawyer who takes the time to think, rather than the unfortunate and not-credible impression of a lawyer panicking.