TIPS FOR WRITING & DELIVERINg TESTIMONY

The most effective method for testimony is to both speak in front of the committee, and submit copies of your comments in writing HERE. Legislators will then have your comments in their files, and your comments will also be part of the written record (available online) for that bill.

speak from the heart!

Greet the two committee chairs by name (“Good afternoon Chair  X, Chair Y, and Distinguished Members of the Z Committee”). 

Give a local or personal example illustrating why you’ve taken a position on a bill. Try to be specific about the benefits/threats to lake values like wildlife habitat, economic/spiritual/recreational resources, beauty, aesthetics, etc.

Close your spoken comments by thanking the committee for the opportunity to address them. 

The legislators may have questions for you when you finish. Answer them forthrightly. If you don’t know the answer to a question, say so. 

Never overstate or exaggerate; it undermines your credibility.

Telling personal stories and sharing experiences can be more effective than all the data and graphs in the world.

keep it short.

You generally have less than three minutes to get your message across. Limiting your focus to one or two main points for your testimony is best.

how to structure?

Include your name and where you live in the first sentence, as well the position you’re taking (support/oppose/neither for nor against) and the name and number of the bill. If you are part of a group like a Lake Association, Land Trust or Alliance, or you volunteer for a lake group or relevant town committee, be sure to include that in your introduction.

Spoken testimony does not have to match verbatim what you submit in writing.

If you find your testimony repeating points others have made in detail, do your best to edit your spoken comments so they reflect your concern but perhaps without lengthy repeats in explanations. Legislators appreciate efficiency!

submit supporting material.

You are allowed to submit written materials (which can include additional comments, charts, maps or information prepared by you or other experts) to help make your case. Make sure to bring 20 copies for committee members.

take notes.

Taking notes on the testimony submitted by others can help you track points that need reiteration, further clarification, or rebuttal when you speak. You may address these issues during your oral testimony or through additional written comments submitted after the hearing.

be polite.

Public hearings can become very emotionally charged. You may hear some things that you strongly oppose, or things that you absolutely agree with. It is important to keep your emotions under control and your statement focused on points that will advance your position. Expressing your frustration about someone else’s testimony cuts into the limited time you have to address your important arguments and make your case.

logistics

To either speak at the hearing or submit written testimony: Visit www.legislature.maine.gov, and click on the “Testimony Submission” button (bottom, right). At the next screen select the committee where the bill originates, then the date of the hearing. Finally, check the box for the bill you are addressing. Then:

To submit written testimony, upload your document (Word or PDF file). You can also type text directly into the submission box. Below that, add your full name, town or organization in Maine (either full-time or part-time/seasonal residence), email and phone.

To speak at the public hearing, fill out the contact information as above but also click the box that says “I would like to present my testimony live”. You’ll then see an added box to indicate if you support, oppose or are neutral on the bill. Although written testimony is not required, feel free to upload testimony at this time if you’d like the committee to have a written record of your comments. Please note, you must upload your written AFTER you have selected the live testimony box. If you upload before checking this box, your file will be deleted.

After you send your request to join the meeting, you’ll receive an invitation to a Zoom meeting (Public Hearing) and you will be asked to click a link to register. After you have registered, you will receive another email with a link to join the meeting. Wait until the day and time of the meeting to click the link to JOIN. If you have difficulty finding the invitation on the day of the meeting, don’t worry.  A reminder will be sent on the morning of the meeting with the link attached. 

When you click the link to join the meeting, you will be in a WAITING ROOM. You will be able to see and hear the committee members but you will not be seen or heard.  The host will be watching who is in attendance in the waiting room (we will know you are here even though you cannot be seen or heard at this time).

The Chairs have a list of all who are scheduled to testify.  They will indicate to the Clerk to admit the next in line to testify (2 or 3 at a time will be brought into the meeting). During the transition from the waiting room to the meeting, you will see a box with a blue spooling circle and a message saying “Joining”. BE PATIENT!  This may take 5-7 seconds. When you can see the participants again, you will be in the meeting and will be able to see yourself on screen. Please remain muted until you are called on to speak.  After you have given your testimony and answered any questions the committee may have, you will be returned to the waiting room.  Expect the same 5-7 second delay on your return.  When you can see the participants again, you are back in the waiting room.  You can remain there for the rest of the hearing or leave by clicking the red END button in the lower right hand corner of the screen. 

You should also submit your spoken testimony in writing here.

Persons with special needs wishing to participate in a Legislative hearing who require accommodations should notify the Legislative Information Office as soon as possible: 207-287-1692, FAX 207-287-1580, lio@legislature.maine.gov. 

Committee meetings may be heard at www.mainelegislature.org or viewed at www.youtube.com/mainestatelegislature.

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