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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


Save the Date!

January 26-27, 2014

Legislative Conference

Day on the Hill

Registration Open Now!

Sponsored by: WSSDA/WASA/WASBO


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