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Direct Examination: Making the Facts Understandable, Presenting Compelling and Credible Witnesses

Recording of a 90-minute CLE video webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Thursday, May 13, 2021

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE course will review how to be effective on direct examination so that the factfinder hears an interesting, articulate, and credible witness. The program will explore why direct examination is so difficult, how to work with the witnesses one has, the limits of what opposing counsel can ask about witness preparation and document review, how to deal with inevitable witness mistakes, how to approach case weaknesses, and how to use direct examination to prepare the witness for cross.


Direct examination is the most important, most difficult, and frequently overlooked element of a trial or evidentiary hearing. Without a coherent, logical statement of facts, neither the judge nor a jury is likely to accept the client's position over the alternatives. Yet time and time again, direct testimony bores everyone in the courtroom, leaving the factfinder ignoring the core facts or placing too much importance on immaterial matters.

But formidable hurdles stand between counsel and compelling direct testimony. Practitioners must tell the client's story with the witnesses they have--witnesses who may be inept, arrogant, unteachable, or inarticulate--through a game of questions and answers. Furthermore, the rules of evidence govern what can be asked, and opposing counsel will throw down roadblocks at every turn with objections.

In a good direct examination, counsel asks questions that jurors want answered and explains why some information they may want is not presented. Good direct examination anticipates what may happen on cross and softens the blow of any damaging information.

Listen as this panel of experienced trial attorneys shares best strategies and practices for direct examination, whether for the plaintiff or defense, including those related to the content and presentation of the witness' testimony and practical tools for the attorney.



  1. Deciding the role of the witness and order of presentation
  2. Using documents to refresh recollection: privilege issues
  3. Organizing direct testimony
  4. Anticipating jury questions and presuppositions
  5. Form of questions
  6. Incorporating nonverbal evidence
  7. Dealing with damaging evidence
  8. Curing witness mistakes
  9. Redirect


The panel will review these and other issues:

  • How should counsel handle facts the jury will want to know but is not permitted to have?
  • How can counsel address perceived weaknesses of the case on direct?
  • How can counsel keep questions short and simple?
  • When should a witness look at the jury?


Broda-Bahm, Ken
Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm, Ph.D.

Senior Litigation Consultant
Persuasion Strategies

Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm has provided research and strategic advice on several hundred cases across the country for the past...  |  Read More

Fournier, Kristen
Kristen Renee Fournier

King & Spalding

Ms. Fournier is an experienced mass tort and product liability litigator who provides state-of-the-art defense...  |  Read More

Lehman, Kathryn
Kathryn S. Lehman

King & Spalding

Ms. Lehman is a member of the Tort Litigation and Environmental Group. She has experience in individual plaintiff...  |  Read More

Pollock, Jeffrey
Jeffrey M. Pollock

Fox Rothschild

Mr. Pollock focuses his practice on complex litigation and Appellate practice. He is recognized by Chambers USA and is...  |  Read More

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