One of the most critical parts of preparing for a trial is witness preparation. You can't just expect your witnesses to show up and answer the questions and make the right impression on the jury. You are going to have to make sure that they are properly prepared for it. This can be a big job because the way that people speak in everyday life is very different from the way that they will need to speak during the trial. Breaking them of these habits is going to be a challenge.
Witness preparation is an important part of preparing for trial; it is how you make sure that your witnesses make the best possible presentation. Obviously you can't tell your witnesses what to say, they have to tell their own story, but you can tell them how to say it. This will help them to make the best impression on the jury. In a perfect world what the witness says would be more important than how they say it but the fact is that presentation does matter. Therefore it is necessary for any lawyer to make sure that his witnesses are prepared.
It is important to prepare your witnesses for both the deposition and the trial. They should know ahead of time what questions you are going to ask them. They need to be taught to answer those questions in a direct and concise manner. They need to look right at the jury or camera as the case may be and they need to make sure that don't hesitate or fidget. They need to be told to keep their answers short and to just answer the question asked. You will probably also want to deal with things like what they should wear since this will affect how the jury views them.
Preparing a witness for your own questions is one thing, preparing them to be cross examined is much more of a challenge. During a cross examination the witness isn't going to know what questions are coming and opposing lawyer is going to try to catch them off guard and rattle them. It is important that you make sure that your witness knows that this will happen. Make sure that he not appear to be rattled when asked a question. It is also important to make sure that they only answer the question asked and don't volunteer any additional information. As far as possible they should be sticking to yes and no answers.
It is a good idea during witness preparation to video tape the sessions so that you can over them with the witness. A lot of people don't like the idea of being videotaped but they need to get used to it since they will probably be taped during trial. More importantly a video tape can be an excellent way to show the witness what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong when they are testifying.