Effective communication skills just as important as “the numbers” when testifying in court

BVWireIssue #102-4
March 23, 2011

“Testifying as an expert witness in court is no big deal. I just have to tell them what the numbers mean, right?”  Well, not exactly.  “It’s important to have the technical background in valuation or forensic accounting to become an expert witness, but it’s just as critical to have effective communication skills,” say Stacy Collins (Financial Research Associates) and Jim Lawrence (University of Houston Law Center).

Valuation practitioners have two opportunities to improve their communication and presentation skills as expert witnesses:

  • A faculty of judges, experts and attorneys from a broad range of disciplines will present the AICPA Expert Witness Skills Workshop on April 28-30 at the Georgetown University Hotel and Conference Center in Washington, DC. Among other things, this forum will cover:
    • testimony, demonstrations and analysis
    • participant practice sessions - direct testimony and cross examination
    • one-on-one video Review & Critique by Seasoned Attorneys
    • effective communications presentation by expert trial consultant
    • testimony at a mock trial
  • “Winning the Battle of the Experts: How to Get the Edge,” at the AICPA Family Law Conference on May 18 at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Collins and Lawrence, along with Randy Kessler (Kessler Schwarz & Solomiany) and Greg Ortiz (Ham & Ortiz), share their experience and expertise in the courtroom at the optional workshop.
    • The first part of the workshop will briefly address some background in communication theory, including the neuro-linguistic programming Model (NLP). The NLP links behavior patterns and experiences to help people become more effective communicators.  A brief case study in business valuation will be used to demonstrate effective – and ineffective - means of communication.  Depending on the size of the class, students will then have the opportunity to practice what they learn, possibly on video, with timely feedback by seasoned family law attorneys.
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