Most lawyers, when they prepare witnesses to testify, are understandably focused on the key substantive issues. They want to make sure the witness remembers important points. Great! But in so doing, lawyers often rely on their prepared questions, leaving little or no room for information not elicited by the lawyer’s direct questions.
As I prepare witnesses to testify, they disclose unexpected information that I then present to the lawyer–often to his/her surprise. Frequently this information has significant impact, either because it is helpful to a winning argument or it permits the lawyer to defuse potentially damaging issues. My ability to get such information is not because of any great magic done by trial consultants, it’s simply the result of a client-centered witness prep approach. Such critical information is just as available to the lawyer and readily obtainable by asking client-centered open-ended questions.
You see, a witness is highly unlikely to come up spontaneously and voluntarily with all you need to know, unless prompted with an open-ended question. Why?
            1) The client may feel obligated to answer your direct question directly
            2) Your direct question may only elicit an incomplete description of the situation
Facilitate your client’s giving you all the information you need by asking client-centered open-ended questions. These encourage the client to tell a story, or describe an event, feeling or situation however the client wishes. Such questions generally start with the words “what” or “how” as in; “What about X concerned you?” “How did you come to Y?” A good follow up is – always –  “Tell me more.”
Ask such questions and your client may very well give you the advantage you need to win your case.