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The 3 C’s of Testifying: Be C lear, C oncise and C ompelling

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The 3 C’s of Testifying: Be C lear, C oncise and C ompelling. Marie Sullivan, Director of Governmental Relations NOVEMBER 21, 2013. The Legislature: Hearings. A bill requires a public hearing before a Senate or House committee Rules can be suspended

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The 3 C’s of Testifying:Be Clear, Concise and Compelling

Marie Sullivan, Director of Governmental Relations

NOVEMBER 21, 2013

the legislature hearings
The Legislature: Hearings
  • A bill requires a public hearing before a Senate or House committee
    • Rules can be suspended
  • Anyone can provide input by live testimony or in writing
  • Hearings are informal – rules set by the body and the chair
  • Televised and taped by TVW
the legislature hearings cont
The Legislature: Hearings (cont.)
  • The issues that compel us to testify are diverse
  • The same goes for the way individuals choose to testify
  • However, it is critical that the information offered in your testimony is accurate, consistent, clear and relevant
    • Important to know whether policy or fiscal issues, committees
the first c clear
The First ‘C’: Clear
  • Clear means simple, easy to understand language
  • Avoid jargon or acronyms, or internal organizational, operation or technical language
  • NEVER read your testimony, particularly if you are going to hand out prepared remarks
the first c clear cont
The First ‘C’: Clear (cont.)
  • Clear includes an opening, a few key points, and a close
  • Opening
    • Addresses the Committee Chair and members
    • State your name and school district. “I am here to speak (in favor or opposition) on (the bill number and subject).”
the first c clear cont1
The First ‘C’: Clear (cont.)
  • Key Points
    • The most important bits of information
    • State your position
    • Why you hold the position
the first c clear cont2
The First ‘C’: Clear (cont.)
  • Ending
    • Always has a clear statement of what you want Committee to do or know
    • Always offer to answer questions BUT … be prepared to say you don’t know and follow up
the second c concise
The Second ‘C’: Concise
  • The best testimony is brief and to the point
  • Testimony is frequently limited to 3 minutes or less
  • Be ready to revise for less time – 30 seconds!
  • With presentations, verify how much time you’ll have to speak
    • Cut that in half
    • Use Power Point slides to show data and illustrate a point if necessary
the second c concise cont
The Second ‘C’: Concise (cont.)
  • If you need to get on the record, be brief and let them know you’ll be following up with written testimony
  • The reason you follow up is to get something in the bill report that committee staff are writing
the second c concise cont1
The Second ‘C’: Concise (cont.)
  • Don’t repeat what someone else has said BUT …
  • You can say you agree with previous testimony and add anything new if necessary
the second c concise cont2
The Second ‘C’: Concise (cont.)
  • If you’re asked a question, answer it quickly and clearly
    • If you don’t know, say you don’t know but will get back to them
    • Make sure to follow up
    • It is usually best to send the information to staff. They will share with committee members
the third c compelling
The Third ‘C’: Compelling
  • The point is to make the testimony “real” to the legislators, staff and audience hearing you
  • Localize and humanize issues
    • Be prepared to give an example from the chair’s district or,
    • From the district of a legislator who is opposed to your issue
the third c compelling cont
The Third ‘C’: Compelling (cont.)
  • Use stories of staff, teachers and students to illustrate your point or emphasize testimony
  • Know your audience and recognize what others might be saying
    • Be prepared to diplomatically answer questions about testimony that might be in conflict with yours, or opinions that might be different
the third c compelling cont1
The Third ‘C’: Compelling (cont.)
  • Be visual when appropriate
    • Charts, graphs, maps, etc. are great – as long as they don’t need thousands of words of explanation
    • The picture should tell the story, quickly and clearly
  • A prop can help you make your case
  • Use humor judiciously
finally
Finally…
  • When testifying against a bill or with concerns, always make time to check in with the bill sponsor BEFORE the hearing.
preparing testimony project
Preparing Testimony Project
  • Testimony work sheet (8 minutes)
    • Read HB 1412 – Community Service
    • Jot down notes based on the questions in the worksheet
    • Pick a position and draft your supporting arguments or evidence
  • Table discussion (10 minutes)
    • Discuss the bill, your responses, arguments
    • Pick 2 volunteers to offer testimony to our panel
      • Plan for no more than 2 minutes of testimony
  • Write testimony (10 minutes)
    • Working together, draft the testimony
    • Remember 3 Cs – Clear, Concise, Compelling
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