Testimony Tips

Your voice makes a difference. Here are some quick tips on testifying before the Legislature. If you need help with any of these steps, email us at info@hawaii-can.org. Don't forget to sign up for free action alerts on important bills at the bottom of this page!

Click here for directions on how to submit testimony.

Written testimony

Courtesy of the Public Access Room, here's a template you can follow to ensure you include all the important elements.

Address testimony to Chair and Committee (get the info from the top of the hearing notice) CHAIR OF THE HOUSE OR SENATE COMMITTEE
NAME OF THE HOUSE OR SENATE COMMITTEE
Specify the bill or resolution number Bill or Resolution Number, Draft Number
Optional: Hearing date, time, and room number Day and Date of Hearing
Time and Place of Hearing
Make your position on the bill easily visible IN SUPPORT (or IN OPPOSITION)
Introduce yourself and state whether you support or oppose the bill or resolution 1) Introduce who you are and/or the group
or organization you represent
2) State your position on the measure ("I am
testifying in favor of..." or "I am testifying against...")
Explain the reasons for your position. May include facts, experiences, beliefs. Keep it short! • Reasons for taking your position
• Start with most important or compelling
• Include facts, figures, experiences, or
narratives to support your position
Optional: Emphasize your position by repeating it. Include any summary remarks and re-state your position.
Anonymous testimony is not accepted — make sure to add your name! Your name
Optional: If you represent a group, emphasize it here Group or organization you represent
Optional: Remember that written testimony is posted on the Legislature's website, so any info will be public. Contact information

 

Oral testimony

Courtesy of the Public Access Room, here are some tips for giving testimony in person:

  • Keep your testimony short and simple (2-3 minutes)
  • How to structure your testimony:
    • Address your testimony to the “Chair, Vice Chair and members of the committee”
    • Introduce yourself and the group or organization (if any) you represent
    • Clearly state your position at the very beginning, whether you're in support, opposed, or suggesting alternatives
    • Provide accurate facts or data to support your arguments
    • Personal stories demonstrating your position can be powerful
    • Thank the committee for the opportunity to testify
  • General tips:
    • Focus on your message and remember to breathe
    • Use a friendly, relaxed tone of voice
    • A conversational tone is ideal — you don't need to read a formal speech to the committee
    • Be courteous, respectful, and professional
    • Tell the truth and don’t exaggerate
    • Anticipate questions you might be asked and practice answering them

 

Want to learn more? Download HCAN's free Advocacy Toolkit!

 

Downloads