This is show time! You need to be at the top of your game to simultaneously persuade undecided policymakers, satisfy friends and allies, and be quotable for reporters. You’re trying to accomplish two things: showing that you have the right policy and that your solution enjoys broad support. Before the committee hearing, know exactly how you’re going to do it.
Carry with you:
Be prepared to:
When you testify, dress for success. Although plenty of people appear in casual clothing, it is more respectful and persuasive to dress professionally.
When you speak, begin formally. E.g., “Thank you Mister Chairman/Madam Chair for the opportunity to testify today.” Then introduce yourself and your panel (if any). If you’re a constituent of one of the policymakers present, say so. State your position clearly: “I’m here in support of/opposition to Proposed Ordinance 321.” Explain any external credibility you bring to the matter: “I’m a psychologist who specializes in…” or “I’ve led our community’s neighborhood watch program for XX years…”
Keep your testimony to 3-5 minutes or shorter depending on the traditions of the committee. Give no more than three reasons for your position. People who are directly affected by the policy in question should tell their stories rather than spouting facts and figures.
Answer questions clearly and concisely and never interrupt a legislator while he or she is speaking.
After you finish testifying, sit back down and don’t leave the hearing until the discussion of your proposal is completely finished. You want to know what others—especially committee members—have to say about it.
When the hearing is over, walk over and talk to any news reporters present. If it’s practical, also talk to friendly committee members to get their impressions of how best to follow up. If a persuadable legislator asked a question, follow up immediately or within a few days to make sure his or her concerns are completely addressed.