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Communication Skills, Report Writing, and Courtroom Testimony for Forensic Analysts

Presentation Skills

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Photo of presenter in a courtroom
National Institute of Justice (NIJ) (see reuse policy).

Presentation skills are difficult for an analyst to master. The ability to balance the highly technical field of expertise while ensuring the jury comprehends the content is not as easy as one would initially think. It is easy for the testimony to become overly technical and scientific, well beyond the grasp of the jury's ability to understand. Conversely, it is equally easy to oversimplify the subject matter and become condescending or insulting to the jury. Witnesses should remember to enunciate clearly and loudly enough to be heard by the jury. Always check with the attorney to get an idea of the jury composition and education level. Remember that the most precise, technically correct, and jargon-laden statement doesn't mean anything if the jury doesn't understand it correctly. The analyst should double check any materials that they expect to use in their presentation for accuracy and clarity.


The ability to communicate effectively in court can be difficult and intimidating, yet it is a critical aspect of the analyst's responsibilities. Of equal importance is remaining objective and professional during the process of giving testimony. Properly preparing for court is an obligation that will result not only in the analyst's ability to give accurate testimony, but will also deflect the efforts of an aggressive attorney. Professionalism, competency, objectivity, and integrity are the landmark components to effective courtroom testimony. Shortcomings in any of these components may lead to potential ammunition for attack by attorneys.

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