GUIDELINES FOR PREPARING EFFECTIVE TESTIMONY

On occasion, you may be asked to give testimony on a bill before a committee. Every presentation should be the most convincing that can be made. It should be expert, well-organized, well-documented, logical, and persuasive. The following are some suggestions for preparing effective testimony.

How to get started:

  • Know the legislative history of the issue, and the substance of any prior testimony.
  • Identify the principal proponents and opponents of the issue and the major arguments of each side.
  • Select the best possible witness or team of witnesses.
  • Prepare a testimony outline listing the major points to be covered and the rational and emotional analysis to be offered in support of each major point.

What to say:

  • Identify the witness by name, title, and explain the witness’s background and affiliation with the group he or she is representing.
  • Be brief, but comprehensive, clear, articulate, and persuasive.
  • Be as knowledgeable as possible about your subject area and be prepared to offer necessary documentation and support for your points.
  • Do not attempt to conceal a legitimate self-interest which you or your group has in the matter before the committee.
  • Be responsive and truthful in answering questions of the committee members.
  • Be familiar with the basic format of a committee hearing; monitor another hearing in advance if possible.
  • Be early: identify names with faces of committee members so that you can address them personally if questioned.
  • Do not be afraid to say, "I don't know the answer to that question, but I will certainly find out."