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Public testimony is an effective way to help policymakers understand how an issue, policy or situation affects people across the state, presents difficulties or addresses needs. Public testimony also gives you the opportunity to show your support for what is being considered by the legislature.
Public speaking can be somewhat scary, especially for people who do not do it all of the time. But with some preparation, giving public testimony can be simple.
Most committees will limit the time witnesses have, so expect to have three minutes. Decide what you want to say in advance, and practice, practice, practice!
Practicing what you are going to say out loud in front of a mirror can help you become comfortable with your testimony and the words you want to use.
If you practice in front of your friends or family you will feel less nervous when you speak to a larger group. This will also give you an opportunity to get feedback on how to improve your message.
It is also a good idea to prepare two versions of your testimony — one that summarizes your message in 3 minutes — and a longer, written version that you can give to the legislators. If you take written testimony, call the committee office to find out how many copies you will need. If you do not have time to type up your testimony or make copies, you should still testify.
There will be a sign-up sheet at the hearing. Speakers are taken in order of first come-first served. Legislators, state agency staff and invited speakers are allowed to testify first.
If you do not wish to speak, you have the option of filling out a testimony card to state your position on an issue. You can also submit written testimony in lieu of speaking.