For Parents: How to Testify at a Hearing
Lisa Rayner, M&O board member and mom, testifies before EPA on the Clean Power Plan.
A hearing is a meeting or session in state and national Senate, House, joint, or special Congressional committee, or regulatory agency. Hearings are open to the public to obtain opinions and information on proposed legislation or regulation, conduct an investigation, evaluate a government department’s activities, and it is an opportunity to further explore current topics of interest.
As a concerned citizen, you have the opportunity to speak directly to elected officials. Public speaking can seem scary. Relax! The proceeding information will help you effectively navigate the process.
Preparing to Testify
Find out when hearings are scheduled. You can do this by going to your state government or agency’s website or by calling the committee or agency staff.
Arrive early and sign in for the meeting or session that you wish to testify.
Write out your testimony and use this information to develop concise talking points. You can distribute copies of your testimony to committee members.
If you need accommodations, please contact the staff orchestrating the hearing.
Practice! Practice! Practice! Get in front of a group of people or a mirror. This will give you valuable feedback to perfect your testimony.
Introduce yourself to the sponsoring group/committee chair. State the purpose of your testimony.
Frame your comments around the proposed legislation or regulation, investigation, evaluation of a government’s activities, or exploration of current topics of interests.
Give clear and concise testimony. There may be many witnesses waiting to present and you may be asked to present in a group.
Try not to repeat the testimony given by previous witnesses.
Be prepared to answer questions from committee members
Be prepared to modify your testimony if a bill’s sponsor offers an amendment, which could change your position on the bill.
Focus on the testimony. Do not clap, cheer, or boo, it is considered rude to engage in this type of behavior and detracts from the effectiveness of your testimony.
Some elected officials may leave during your testimony. They have other commitments and meetings that they have to attend. Please do not be offended.