You may find it necessary to give a presentation on preventing drugged driving to your local school board, another community group, city council, or a legislative committee. Use the tips below to prepare for a community group presentation.
Prepare Your Written Statement
- Briefly introduce yourself. Tell who you are and give information about the program you are representing (i.e., how many people you represent, how many people you serve, successes you have had). Acknowledge your appreciation to the panel for considering the issue and inviting you as a witness. This should take no more than one or two paragraphs.
- State your goal and outline your major points. In a few sentences, tell the committee or panel what you hope to accomplish in your statement. Again, be brief.
- Talk about the problem. Be sure to use statistics and data to support your claim.
- Talk about current efforts to resolve the problem. Describe solutions that are being tried or considered. Has anything worked in various states or communities on an experimental or demonstration basis? Explain why the efforts are insufficient or how they can be improved.
- List your specific, concise recommendations. Focus on what the policymaking body can do to help solve the problem at hand.
- Use the Meeting/ Presentation Script as your guide.
Delivering Your Oral Statement
- Remember that the officials are people, too. Although you may be nervous, remember that these officials are looking to you as the expert. Relax, remain calm and speak like the expert you are.
- Personalize your testimony. While statistics are important, one way to assist officials (and get their attention) is to let them know how the issue affects their constituents.
- Make eye contact. Look at the officials as you talk so that the material is delivered with your eyes. To facilitate eye contact: 1) separate your pages, removing clips and staples; 2) use large type and double-space your text, triple-spacing between paragraphs; 3) leave a two-inch margin at the bottom of the page so your head won’t have to tilt down too far; and 4) don’t carry a sentence over to the next page.
- Remember that there is often a time limit . You do not want to find yourself in a position where your time has expired and you have not gotten to the point of your testimony. Before your scheduled time, ask what the time limits are, and practice accordingly.
- Your hope should be that they will be interested enough in you and your subject to ask questions after you finish. Anticipate questions your testimony may prompt and have good answers in mind.
- Focus on the specific issue of the hearing. Make sure your comments are relevant.
- Follow up. Write a thank you note to each policymaker present in appreciation for the opportunity to testify, and provide additional information supporting your cause. Also, ask for support on your issue. Thank you letters published in the local papers are a great incentive to a public official to invite you or your group to testify again.
- Don’t spend more time describing your own qualifications or your programs than you do the issue at hand.
You were invited to testify because you are qualified. Use the time you are given to focus on the issue.
- Don’t assume that the panel or committee members are experts.
- Don’t try to tell them everything you know. Simplify, simplify, simplify!
- Don’t be shy. Remember, you’re important! You are the one who votes the officials into office. But whether it’s to laud or lament, compliment or counsel, be tactful and polite.
Thank you to the Association for Career and Technical Education for the advocacy tips.