Judgment Day: Will You Pass the Test of First Impressions?

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In the courtroom, your attitude, your appearance, and your ability to speak clearly are all being judged. Like it or not, it is human nature to form a first impression based on these matters. So, before you go to court, you should consider how others might view you.

Dress the part. Enter the courtroom looking professional, respectable, and trustworthy.

While the people of this country often embrace a unique look in other settings, the courtroom is considered a very formal setting and should be treated as such. Failing to follow the unwritten guidelines could result in a very bad first impression.Skip the jeans, the unnatural hair color, and low-dipping necklines. Instead, opt for a professional style.

Make eye contact and be honest. If you look up, down, or away from the person speaking to you, it will read as if you are hiding something or outright lying. Don’t make this mistake. Give the judge and jury every reason to believe that you are being entirely truthful in all that you say. Don’t be afraid to make eye contact.

In addition, sit up straight, pay attention when others are speaking, and give everyone a reason to respect you.

Be respectful. Again, it must be emphasized that the courtroom is a professional arena and should be treated as such. This is not the place to speak with slang phrases. Speak clearly, concisely, and loud enough for others to hear you.

Do not lose your temper with those that address you and always refer to the judge and attorneys formally; “Your Honor,” “sir,” “mister,” “ma’am,” or “madam” as the situation warrants.

Show your interest. As stated above, it is important to give respect to others if you want it to be returned to you. For that reason, you should make every effort to pay attention throughout the trial.

This can be made easier if you have the right tools. Bring a notebook and pen with you to the trial. This way, you can take notes of what is said. They can be useful when later discussing the case and also the effort will make you more focused on what is happening around you.