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Public Testimony Tips

Public hearings are an easy way to get your perspective out to key public officials (city council members, state legislators, school board members). It is vital to develop public testimony that is clear, concise, has emotional impact and will be heard and remembered by public officials. Your testimony should be:

When using statistics to back up any testimony, make certain that they are correct and current. Use statistics and research sparingly. Do not overwhelm your testimony with data, but choose the most meaningful and powerful data.

Begin with a statement describing the issue or problem that needs to be addressed and your position on that issue. Indicate why your position provides resolution to the problem. Make a recommendation of the action that needs to be taken by the committee or board (i.e. voting in favor of a bill). Write your statement out in clear, concise language.

Greet the board or committee appropriately and maintain that protocol throughout your testimony. If you are testifying at a legislative hearing, recognize the Chair and the committee before speaking. For example, “Thank you Senator Smith and members of the Committee for the opportunity to testify today on this important topic." Always thank the committee following your testimony.

The best testimony provides public officials with useful information that they did not previously have, provides insight in helping to resolve the issue and helps to guide their decision on the issue at hand.

Plan on speaking for 3-5 minutes or less. Short, concise and well-delivered testimonies are the most effective.

Powerful testimony is a combination of personal stories and accurate, current statistics. Speak from your heart. Presenting your testimony in human terms provides public officials with a better understanding of the issue. Testimony from individuals who are directly impacted by the issue is very impactful.