1. Maintain eye contact. Walk to the lectern and look at the judges. Then talk to the judges, not at them.
2. Have something in writing at the lectern. Have an outline or some list of important points to be made during the course of the argument. Without written help, you may ramble and overlook pivotal points.
3. Don't let unnecessary preparations delay your argument. Don't gulp water, shuffle papers, remove your watch, etc. Walk to the lectern, set down your watch and papers, wait for the presiding judge to recognize you, and then begin.
4. Stand upright and still, but don't be rigid. Stand, don't slouch. Stay close to the microphone. Don't wander around the courtroom.
5. Control your nonverbal communication. Be earnest, alert, and confident. Avoid distracting movements such as picking at your sleeve while a judge questions you. don't adopt combative positions such as crossing your arms.
6. Be courteous and respectful. The proper relationship to the judges is that of respectful equality. Don't be scornful or belligerent. At the same time, don't be timorous or overawed. In particular, don't buckle or concede a point just because an individual judge seems displeased with your position.
7. Enunciate clearly. Judges abhor mumbling and muttering. It may be useful to listen to your argument on a tape recorder in order to ensure that you can speak confidently and clearly.
8. Control your volume. Don't speak softly, but don't bellow. Vary your volume so you don't speak in a monotone.
9. Keep your cadence. Oral argument should move with a carefully regulated cadence. It is important to maintain a conversational tone. Avoid long pauses while you grope for your next point or look for a record cite. Equally important, do not race through an argument.
10. Address the judges correctly. Don't try to address a judge by name, unless you can do so correctly. If you address Judge Smith as Judge Jones, neither judge will be pleased.
11. Don't read to the judges. Reading from statutes, cases, or legislative history will bore the judges, even if it does not bore you. However, you may briefly quote pivotal language critical to your argument.
12. Avoid long sentences, numbers, and citations. Remember that oral and written communication are different. Keep your sentences simple and vivid.
13. Limit reliance on help from others at the counsel table. Conferring with co-counsel makes you look ill-prepared and should be done only in limited circumstances. Offer to submit a supplemental brief on a significant point that you cannot address adequately. But if you can't answer an important question and your co-counsel knows the answer, quickly consult him or her. Limit note passing with co-counsel. Passing notes distracts the judges. Pass notes only to obtain information, not to toss around ideas.
14. Remember the forum. If you are a trial lawyer, remember that appellate judges are not jurors and greatly resent being addressed as though they were. Avoid emotional rhetoric; instead, view oral argument as an intellectual exchange or debate.
15. Be prepared to modify your argument. Think of your argument as an accordion that expands or contracts based on the time available. The more the judges question you, the less time you have to present what you planned. Be ready to discard less important matters if time is running short.
16. Use the written format that works best for you. Experiment with different techniques during moot court sessions until you find the one you are most comfortable with. You might use an outline with key words and sentences. You may prefer to list key arguments on notecards. You may have a script with you, but do not read your argument. If you have a script, don't do more than glance at it to refresh your memory on key points. Remember that written and spoken communication use entirely different diction. A written argument will sound stilted unless great care is taken to use words and phrases appropriate to oral communication.
17. Be well armed with the material you may need.