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You’re the Cure Advocate Tips: Written and Oral Testimony

Giving testimony is one of the most effective ways to educate legislators and policymakers about the impact, either positive or negative, that proposed legislation or legislative change might have. Legislators and other policymakers aren’t always aware of all the implications a particular piece of legislation may have on their constituents.

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Oral testimony is very powerful, especially when the testifier speaks directly instead of reading from their written testimony.

Here are some tips to help you prepare your testimony:

Testimony should be short—most of the time you are allowed 2-3 minutes to speak.  It is a good rule of thumb to check the website of the government body to see if they have a time limit.

Speak from your own personal experience. Sharing your story is effective and helps lawmakers remember your points.  For tips on sharing your story visit our website here.

As a general rule, testimonies should be delivered verbally and also submitted in writing.

  • Write out what you plan to say or at least your key notes ahead of time. Having a clear idea of what you want to say and how you want to say it will help you stay on track and clearly get your message across.
    Follow this outline for preparing your statement:
  • Identify yourself, where you live, and your connection to the issue
    • Example: “My name is Jane Smith and I live in Main City, State.
    • Thank them for providing you the opportunity to provide testimony. Example: “Good morning and I appreciate having the opportunity to speak with you today.”
  • State your position on the legislation/bill or policy you are testifying about.
    • Example: “I am here today to voice my support for the Nutrition Equity Act”
  • Share your experience, why you care about this issue. Use facts and data to help provide additional evidence.  Always check-in with your American Heart Association staff partner for some help with talking points you could share in your testimony.  Your experience will bring the talking points to life. 
  • Conclusion: Restate/review your position at the end of your testimony.
    • Thank the elected officials for the opportunity to speak.
  • Practice your testimony! Stand in front of the mirror and read your testimony out loud. It will help the flow of your presentation and help you stay within the time limits.
  • Provide a written copy. Be prepared to provide the elected officials a written copy of your testimony.

 A few other hints:

  • Have some written notes you can refer to – you don’t have to memorize your testimony.
  • Speak clearly and take your time.
  • If you are asked questions after presenting your testimony and you don’t know an answer – that is okay. Just say, you will get back to them with more information.  Then contact your American Heart Association staff partner so they can help you gather the information.  

 

 

 

 

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