In the courtroom, silence can be effective. There is definitely a right time and place for it. It can help you gather your thoughts, draw focus and unnerve a witness. Silence can be a great tool when used well.
“Silence is of different kinds, and breathes different meanings.”
— Charlotte Brontë, Villette
However, think about what else can happen in the silence… you can start to second guess yourself, lose trust in your next steps and decrease your confidence. The silence (which, in our mind, seems to last forever) can trap you in your head. The silence can keep you thinking about how the previous moment might not have gone as planned or how the next part of the deposition, cross or closing statement is going to be difficult. As a result, you can also lose your train of thought and knock yourself off your game.
In your work on a case, you know your plan, you worked diligently to create the right narrative and your experience will always back you up when you need it most- you just need to trust it. The best way to do that is to get out of our head and let your instincts take over.
The exercises in our Lawyer’s Improv Workshop can teach you to react more spontaneously and trust your first reaction. Learning the skills of improvisation can help train you to be a better active listener so that you can stay “in the moment” and trust everything you have worked so hard to prepare.
After all, the only moment you can control is the one you are in right now. Once you let go of everything that is out of your control, you can react with more confidence and believe in your abilities. That way, the silence becomes a tool not a crutch.