How to use Sound Scripting to Improve Speech

For most if not all teams doing Mock Trial, you’ll be preparing a script of questions that you’re going to ask your witness – for both direct examination and cross examination.

Even if you’re a very advanced team that comes up with questions on the spot – you most likely prepared a guideline of what questions you may ask.

With that being said, if you prepared a script of questions, you should learn the techniques of Sound Scripting to help make your question flow more natural.

What is Sound Scripting?

Sound Scripting is a methodology of marking emphasis on context words in your script. For example, you can take a sentence like “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog” and when you add Sound Scripting, it will look like “The QUICK brown fox JUMPED over the lazy dog.”

Why put in the effort to Sound Script?

A lot of teams who don’t sound script often sound like they’re reading off a script even though they’ve memorized their script. When do they do this, they sound un-natural and boring. When you’re boring, your listeners will tune you out and miss what you’ve said.

By adding sound scripting, you add emphasis on context words and give your script more character. It also makes it a lot easier to come up with hand movements as you talk with more emphasis.

What does Sound Scripting look like?

Cross Examination

  1. It is  your testimony today that John Doe set the truck on fire?
  2. Is it true that John Doe was wielding a knife on Main street?

Direct Examination

  1. What did you see on Main street the night of January 13th

I saw quite a large man wearing a brown t-shirt wielding a knife on Main street that night on January 13th.

How to be an Unimpeachable Witness

Impeachment’s are a great tool at destroying credibility. While it’s a great tool at destroying credibility, it can destroy your own teams credibility if your witness is impeached and was caught lying at the stand.

Impeachment are unavoidable as all humans make mistakes. Here are a few simple tips to avoid becoming impeached while on the witness stand.

1. Know your witness statement

The number one step to avoiding impeachment is knowing your witness statement by heart. You will need to know and understand everything about your witness. This will require reading and dissecting the witness statement so you can capture every detail possible.

You may say this is common sense but most if not all Mock Trial witness statements were created by the organization running the Mock Trial program. The witness statement didn’t come from your own words and it’s your responsibility to fully understand what it’s trying to convey about the character you’re playing.

2. Don’t lie. Be careful when you twist the facts.

The number one thing about being a witness is that you should avoid lying. Even if the truth will ruin your character, it’s not worth it to lie. The best thing to do – with caution – is to twist the facts so that you’re telling the truth but diminishing the reality of what happened. However, when twisting the facts, make sure you don’t purposely lie or that will hurt you.

3. Play it off

If you do end up getting impeached – what’s done is done. The best thing to do in this situation is to say “I’m sorry, I was confused by the question” or “I’m sorry, I mixed up the events of what happened” and then restate what actually happened. This will help cool off the situation and restore a tiny bit of credibility to your witness.

If you are playing against a good lawyer who followed our Impeachment guide, then you could be saved. Once you hear the lawyer say something along the lines of “Is it your sworn testimony today that …,” then it is your sign that you’re about to be impeached and you could wiggle your way out of that situation by saying “Oh no, I’m sorry, I mixed up the events and meant to say …”

Story Time

Impeachment is probably one of my favorite aspect of Mock Trial and always gives me a good laugh. Here are a few of my favorite impeachment stories:

  • I’ve once watched a trial where the lawyer followed the Impeachment guide and the witness corrected themselves once they figured they were almost going to become impeached. However, the lawyer still went through the entire impeachment process and impeached the witness. If this happens, people will notice and the lawyer will lose points for not noticing that you’ve corrected yourself. I noticed what happened and was wondering why the lawyer was still going through the impeachment process.
  • I watched a trial in a tournament where the one team would have their witnesses lie on everything so that their witnesses could look better. Thankfully, the other team knew they were lying and impeached them on every answer they provided. We ended up going through 8 impeachments before the Judge in the trial said “enough” and made the witness get off the stand.

The morale of the story is: just don’t be messy.

Creating and Developing a Character for a Witness Role


This article will primarily cover how to create a character for a witness.

Before we begin, let’s list out the three different witnesses there are in a Mock Trial case. The three most common witness types are:

  • Fact Witnesses – A witness that can give testimony that is limited to what they’ve observed or personally experienced.
  • Character Witnesses – A witness that can give background about the defendant–both good and bad experiences.
  • Expert Witnesses – A witness that can infer opinions due to their expert knowledge in a specified field.

Developing the Character

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.~ Arthur Ashe

Developing a character may seem daunting but it’s quite simple. You use what you have based on the context clues given in the witness statement. If your character is a farmer, you may want to dress down a little (depending on if it’s allowed by the competition rules) and talk like a local farmer. If your character is a sophisticated CEO, you may want to dress up more and sound like a city slicker business person.

If you’re stuck on character development, try watching a movie or TV show. See how the main character acts and portrays their character. Look at the way they talk, dress, and use hand movements.

For example, take Forrest Gump (played by Tom Hanks). If you’ve watched Forrest Gump, you see the way Forrest Gump talks, walks, acts, and dresses fits his character. In contrast, Tom Hanks probably doesn’t talk, walk, or dress like Forrest Gump in real life. Your goal is to become an actor and play the character presented in your affidavit.

Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump in one of the famous bench scenes. Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

Another point to note! You should be careful and try not to use stereotypes. This is where character development becomes tricky because we don’t want to intentionally make anyone uncomfortable.

The Four Questions for Character Development

  • How does my witness talk?
    • Does my witness use slang?
    • Does my witness talk with a certain accent?
    • Does my witness talk professionally or not?
  • How does my witness dress?
    • Does my witness have a certain hair style?
    • Does my witness wear glasses?
    • If allowed, does my witness wear something other than a suit and tie?
    • Does my witness wear boring dress socks or interesting socks?
  • How does my witness act?
    • How does my witness walk?
    • How would my witness sit in a chair?
    • Does my witness want attention?
  • What impression do I want to give?
    • Is my witness funny?
    • Do I want to be happy? sad? anxious?
    • Does my witness want sympathy? Does my witness cry?
    • Is my witness well-mannered or ill-mannered?


Yes, this article is short.

Developing a character for a witness is like developing a character as an actor. You just use context clues in the witness statement just like an actor would use context clues in a script. Your job as a witness is to develop a character that people would easily understand and enjoy.

If you’re wondering how to develop your character even further, check out our guide on how to portray your character as a witness.