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How to Give Testimony

Testifying happens in all three branches of government – legislative, executive, and judicial branches.

It also takes place at all levels of government from federal and state all the way down to smaller localities (counties, cities, school boards etc.). We will focus on legislative branch, but these strategies can be adapted for a wide range of policymakers. This type of testimony is different than testifying in a court of law and providing comments to regulatory agency. Any testimony that you submit, whether oral or written, becomes public record that can be searched by people who want to read or see it.

Tips for Written and Oral/Recorded Testimony  

Keep your recorded testimony to 2-3 minutes. For oral history, please follow the same format as you do for written testimony. Try to be brief and clear in the message you want to get across. Write down your talking points! Remember to highlight the most important issues to you. When identifying a problem, try to have a solution to share

Template for Written Testimony

Your First & Last Name
Regarding (Name of the Committee and/or Agency You are testifying about)

[Paragraph 1: Introduce yourself and the issue you want to testify about] 

  •  Give your first and last name and identify yourself. Ex. “My name is Jack X and I am a concerned Seattle Resident/a public health professional/a food justice advocate.” 
  • Tell them what you’re testifying about. Ex. “I am testifying on how the lack of funding for reentry programs and services has made it difficult for me to find housing” or “I am testifying about how police presence in my neighborhood has made me and my neighbors feel less safe.”

[Paragraph 2: Tell your story] 

  • Pick an event or issue that you have worked directly on or been affected directly by that you are comfortable sharing with the public. 
  •  Tell what services caused this event or issue and how it impacted you.

[Paragraph 3: Explain why you felt the need to testify] 

  • Tell why you wanted to share your story and what you want Council to take from your story. 
  • What would have helped prevent negative experiences or increase positive experiences.

[Paragraph 4:  Give suggestions for solving the issue or problem you have raised.] 

  • What do you think the Council should do to make sure others do not have the negative experiences you did or that they have the positive experiences you did?   
  • What would make a material difference in working towards food security? (Provide school breakfast and lunch at no charge to all students, Investment in Black, Brown and Indigenous farmers and their access to land, seeds, and water, Divestment from Big Ag) 
  • What do you think will be helpful in dealing with the issue or problem you talked about?

[Paragraph 5: Thank the Councilmembers] 

  • Thank the chair of the committee if you know their name for reading/hearing your testimony. 
  • Tell them you hope they consider your testimony and the solutions you have suggested. Ex. “Your consideration of these matters and solutions is very much appreciated.”

For more tips on testify please visit How to Testify in Committee in WA State Legislature page