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TESTIFY: at a public hearing

Testifying at a public hearing is one of the most important ways to add your voice to a debate. Testimony is generally recorded. It is the forum that the government sets up to hear from the public.

Testifying:

Why do it:

Testifying at a public hearing is one of the most important ways to add your voice to a debate.  Testimony is generally recorded.  It is the forum that the government sets up to hear from the public. 

1. Verbal testimony has an emotional impact, especially on elected officials who may not bother to read the written record.

2. Hearings are often covered by news reporters, and thus are an opportunity to get your message out to the public, not just the agency or committee.

3. The fact that you made the extra effort to come out in person sends an important message to the agency and the public regarding your level of commitment to the issue.

4. Agencies need your support to do the right thing! 

 

Tips:

  1. Prepare for short: There is usually a time limit, around 3-10 minutes.  Plan accordingly and make sure you feature a few key points.  Begin by identifying yourself  by your name and where you live.  If you are representing a group, state the name of the organization and briefly describe their mission and how many members you’ve got.  Next make sure you state your position clearly and tell why you care.  Its best to use your own words and be personal, without being melodramatic.  Try to speak from your heart rather than read from a script.  End by requesting action: tell the committee what you want them to do and say thank you.
  2. Pack yer bags: wear nice, conservative clothing, any notes or props (like pictures) that you may want, a written version of your testimony to submit.
  3. Arrive early, there is usually a sign-up to testify and on big issues it pays to get your name on the list early while the audience is fresh.
  4. Listen to the other testimony, make sure that you reinforce, rather than simply repeat things you agree with, don’t go too far out of your way to respond to another testimony that you don’t agree with.
  5. Network!  Always remember to be pleasant, hearings are a good place to make connections with others around the issues.

 

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