15 Testimony Tips for the North Dakota Legislature

GENERAL TIPS

1. SCHEDULE IT

Due to the new hybrid process, last minute testimony will not be allowed. Further details on the process will be released.

2. BE RELATABLE

Speak your own words but stick to your points. Your written testimony is important for the record, but when you are speaking to the legislators, it’s equally important to relate as a human being telling a story that matters. Identify the one thing you want them to remember and make that your closing statement.

3. BE CLEAR

Tell them with clarity how you want them to vote. “I would appreciate a NO/YES vote on Bill XYZ.” Start with stating your name. The script is exactly, Mr. Chairman/Madam Chairman, for the record my name is _____ and I am here today on behalf of (insert organization here/or representing your own interests) on bill (bill number) because (why it matters to you).

4. IDENTIFY YOURSELF

Wear a nametag. If you are a registered lobbyist, this is required by law when testifying.

IN PERSON TESTIMONY TIPS

5. BRING ENOUGH COPIES

Bring copies for the entire committee, the committee clerk, and the intern. Extra copies for audience members are often appreciated too. Fancy binders or bound reports aren’t necessary and often get lost compared to paper sheets that can be inserted in legislators’ own binders.

6. BRING ELECTRONIC COPIES

Be sure to have an electronic copy of your testimony handy that can be handed to the clerk on a jump drive or quickly emailed.

7. USE CORRECT HOLE PUNCH

Use the BIG 3 hole punch. Legislators will sometimes keep a hard copy of testimony to refer back to and have large binders for the many materials they receive.

VIRTUAL TESTIMONY TIPS

8. CHOOSE YOUR OUTFIT

Dress for virtual testimony as you would if you were in person. For men, a tie and jacket. For women, minimal jewelry and solid colors are recommended. Be mindful of the color of your shirt and your background – you don’t want your body to blend into the background. Colors to avoid: white and red. Jewel tones like teal, coral, purple, cobalt blue and emerald green are most flattering.

9. TEST YOUR AUDIO

Ask a friend to test your audio setup before your testimony. Headphones or an external microphone is a solid strategy to ensure you can hear and be heard without issues.

10. MIND YOUR BACKGROUND

Avoid cluttered backgrounds and personal photos. You want to be sure people aren’t trying to figure out how many children are in your family versus focusing on your words. While inspirational quotes can be motivating, keep them in your line of sight and not the camera’s. Steer clear of your audience trying to read anything but your logo in your background. A virtual background can be an effective way to block out distractions behind you. However, one drawback is that as you move, your body may be briefly blurred or cut off.

11. CHECK YOUR LIGHTING

Lighting matters! Shadows can distract or create an unwanted focal point. A flattering ring light can be purchased online. Good lighting will warm your skin tone and help create a professional first impression.

12. LOOK INTO THE CAMERA

If you need help training your eye, try hanging a photo behind your camera to give yourself an illusion you’re talking to a person versus the camera. Your camera should be slightly above your face but not too high that you are looking up. Proper placement of your camera sends a message of confidence and clarity.

13. STAY HYDRATED

It’s ok to take a drink if you’re thirsty, but use a straw for less distraction.

14. DON’T DISTRACT WITH YOUR HANDS

If you need help training your eye, try hanging a photo behind your camera to give yourself an illusion you’re talking to a person versus the camera. Your camera should be slightly above your face but not too high that you are looking up. Proper placement of your camera sends a message of confidence and clarity.

15. LIMIT YOUR CHAIR MOVEMENTS

Your chair matters! Don’t swivel in your chair or even worse, rock back and forth. The constant movement can make people dizzy! Be sure to choose a fairly firm chair to help you sit up straight. If you are having trouble kicking the nervous movement habit, try a stationary option such as a dining chair.

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