General Testimony Guide
Thank you for your interest in testifying! Public hearings are an essential part of civic governance and your participation helps shape our community for the better. Thank you for being a great neighbor and fellow citizen!
TIPS for Giving Public Testimony
1) Research the issue:
We provide talking points on for every issue we take on, but it's important that you do your own homework. Public testimony has more impact if it flows from what matters to you and how you see the issue.
2) Plan your testimony:
Aim for 2-3 minutes (400-550 words).
Your personal story matters - appeals to emotion and what the issue means to you personally help humanize the issue.
Keep your testimony simple and focused; stick to what you know and are comfortable speaking about.
Start with your most important points.
State just the facts - don’t say anything that is based in rumor or hasn’t been fact checked.
State the issue and your concerns but ALSO offer reasonable solutions, alternatives, or suggestions. Council may be more willing to consider your view if you propose solutions to the issues you bring up.
Listen to the testimonies before yours. If other people have covered what you intended to say, it’s okay to simply state, “I support the testimony that was just given”, but you should always say something because your public statement counts.
Be nice! People will be more receptive to your comments, and acting unkindly undermines your credibility.
Always start your testimony with letting City Council/School Board know that you respect and value their work.
A few practice runs will refine your testimony and help you speak more confidently.
4) Print or write your notes out legibly.
5) Use eye contact if you can as you speak, but it’s perfectly fine to read directly from your written statement/notes.
6) Prepare for questioning from City Council:
City Council and the Planning Board are somewhat flexible about how much time you take to testify BUT it's best to plan for 5 minutes max so board members' eyes don't start glazing over and you lose their attention! Plus, others may want to speak. Read the room and make sure you leave time for others to make their points. You fall into good favor when you present sharp, concise testimony and don't drone on and on.
Currently, the Council allows City Councilors to ask you questions after testimony. If you're uncomfortable with questioning - end your testimony with "to make sure there's time for everyone to speak - I am not going to field questions at this time."
If the Council presses you to take questions - politely state: "Thank you but I am not going to field questions at this time."
If you choose to answer Council questions and they ask you a question you are unsure about, or feel caught off guard, you can politely say: "I very much appreciate your question -I need more time to think about it" or "I'd like time to research that before I speak to your question - thank you."
Always feel free to ask clarifying questions about anything a Councilor is discussing with you.
Don't forget to sign in on the clipboard before testifying.
7) Prepare for School Board
Count on the School Board giving you exactly 5 minutes to testify. Do a practice run and make sure your statement sticks to this timeframe.
Don't forget to sign in before testifying.
8) Hand your statement in to the Board after you’ve spoken for public record.
This is YOUR city. City Council/School Board are YOUR elected officials. They are making decisions about YOUR schools, streets, systems, and tax dollars. YOUR voice matters!
(Greet the committee, introduce yourself, thank the committee for hearing your testimony and for their service (feel free to get specific if it's related to the issue).
Good evening, City Councilors/School Board members and Mayor/Superintendent. Thank you for hearing my testimony today on this issue.
My name is_________________ and I live in Ward ______.
2) STATE YOUR POSITION:
I support ___________ because…
3) BRIEF PERSONAL STORY:
Include details here about your personal story to help frame why this issue is important to you. Speak clearly and honestly - your feelings and thoughts on this issue matter and humanize the issue.
4) ASK FOR A SPECIFIC ACTION OR OUTCOME:
I am asking you to rebuild the middle school at the existing Rundlett location…
5) THANK THE COMMITTEE OR BOARD:
Thank you for the opportunity to testify today. This issue is important to me and I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have. OR This issue is important t to me and I am not going to take questions at this time - thank you so much.
Call and write your officials directly. It is important you include the City Clerk in all emails to City Councilor so your email or letter is shared with the entire Council. Your City Councilor alone is not obligated to share your email with the rest of the Council.
School Board members emails here.
City Council member emails here.
Concord Greenspace provides community feedback forms for all our initiatives. These forms are emailed to the governing body prior to public hearings and become public record. However, it is more effective to testify and call/write your officials directly. Our forms can be found on the initiatives' main page or in the dropdown menu.