Direct examination of an expert witness is often more challenging than cross examination of an expert witness. This is because during direct examination of an expert witness the expert needs to persuade without appearing to be an advocate or hired gun. Additionally, the expert witness may need to explain complicated concepts in a potentially dry field of study to a lay audience.
We recommend the following:
• Keep it short and interesting. Jurors, like most people, have limited attention spans and want the case to proceed efficiently. Don’t disrespect their time.
• Start strong and finish strong. The beginning and end of your direct examination are what is likely to be most remembered. A strong start and finish is essential.
• Deal with any potential problems during direct examination. Every expert witness has weaknesses. These should be dealt with during direct. There are two main reasons for this. First, you will be able to put into proper context for the jury any potential problem areas. Second, you will steal opposing counsel’s thunder on cross examination by bringing this out yourself during direct examination.
• Use visual aids. A picture says a thousand words. More importantly, research shows that jurors remember far more of what they see and hear than what they hear alone.
Direct examination of an expert witness can be more challenging than one would think. Lawyers often try to find expert witnesses who can excel during direct examination. Experts who wish to improve their expert witness testimony should consider expert witness training or mentoring.