Posts tagged ‘leading questions’

Designing your Questions to Get the Answer You Want

As an advocate, particularly in a courtroom setting, it is important to think out in advance the answer you want to hear and then design your questions to present a view toward obtaining that desired answer.

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Ultimately, you are seeking an answer that favors your position. And a big part of your job is to control what is said and how it is said.

You must give proper time and consideration to knowing precisely what you want to be said, in advance. Once you know what it is that you want to be said, the next step is to arrive there by asking a series of questions. Slowly, question by question, it is possible to lead the audience to the desired conclusion. Each question within the series should be designed to obtain the individual answer that you want.

The goal is to get the audience to agree to several points and then as a consequence to agree to the final point. In order to be effective, you must have a clear understanding in advance of what those points will be. You must know what it is that you want the audience to agree with.

Every question is an objective and each series of Common Sense Rules of Advocacy for Lawyers, by Keith Evansquestions leads you to the answer or conclusion you desire. Once you obtain the answer that you desire to a question, you move on to the next question. After you know your ultimate objective it is then possible to break that objective down to individual objectives so you can work on them one by one. The best way to approach this strategy is by thinking “if this, then that.”

Another approach would be to look at it as “if such and such, then so and so.” Make a point to design your questions to that you can bring out the desired conclusion and then invite the audience or the witness to agree with what must naturally follow as a result.

By using this strategy, your solution will seem to be irresistible to the audience. They will have followed you through every single step and will have seen the way you reach your objectives. It will then be natural for them to agree with you.

To learn more about advocacy and the best techniques to win others over to your issue, consider the Capitol Learning Audio Course, Effectively Using Persuasion in your Oral Presentations: A Trial Lawyer’s Perspective, or this 1-day workshop, Effective Briefings: The Art of Persuasion.

Reference: Common Sense Rules of Advocacy for Lawyers, by Keith Evans, Chapter 3 The Mandatory Rules of Advocacy, Rule 57: Think Out in Advance the Answer You Want to Hear and Design Your Questions With a View to Getting That Answer.

For more information about becoming a better advocate, see these resources from TheCapitol.Net:

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The Danger of Asking Leading Questions

As an advocate in court, you want to be careful about putting words in the mouth of your witness, also known as asking leading questions. While it can be difficult to steer away from asking leading questions, think of this rule as “do not put words into the mouths of your witness.”

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What exactly is a leading question? A leading question is any question that contains its own answer. Leading questions can be asked with a simple yes or no answer. For example, you might ask a witness “You are now 25 years old?” The witness can answer “Yes.” All the witness needs to do is agree. If you change the question to eliminate the inclusion of the answer, it then becomes much safer. For instance, you would ask, “How old are you?” The witness then states their current age.

Simply because a witness can answer a question with a nod or shake of their head, that does not necessarily mean it is a leading question. The reverse is always true, however. Leading questions can always be answered with a yes, no, nod or shake of the head or even a grunt.

Common Sense Rules of Advocacy for Lawyers, by Keith EvansThe danger of leading questions is that testimony comes from the advocate and not the witness. The advocate should never provide evidence or testimony — that is the job of the witness. There are also two other reasons why leading questions are dangerous.

First, when evidence comes from an advocate, it is difficult for the factfinder to assess the credibility of the witness. In addition, if the advocate provides testimony by placing words into the mouth of the witness, the value of that testimony can be spoiled. The effect of the witness’s testimony is diluted.

To learn more about advocacy and the best techniques to win others over to your issue, consider The Capitol Learning Audio Course, Effectively Using Persuasion in your Oral Presentations: A Trial Lawyer’s Perspective, or this 1-day workshop, Effective Briefings: The Art of Persuasion.

Reference: Common Sense Rules of Advocacy for Lawyers, by Keith Evans, Chapter 3 The Mandatory Rules of Advocacy, Rule 18: Never Put Words in the Mouths of Your Own Witness.

For more information about becoming a better advocate, see these resources from TheCapitol.Net:

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