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Public testimony is an effective way to educate legislators about the implications that proposed pieces of legislation will have on you and your community. Providing public testimony can seem like a daunting task, but the right preparation can make the process less intimidating.
Preparing to Testify

  • Locate hearing notices. All hearings that allow public testimony will have a hearing notice that provide the date and location of the hearing. It will also tell you how much time you have speak and other rules set by the committee chair. If you decide to submit written testimony, it will also tell you how many copies to bring. All hearing notices are published online at Texas Legislature Online Committees Webpage (this website also allows you to create alerts so you will receive a notification when a bill that you follow will have a hearing), the Texas Senate Website, or the Texas House website. Inside the Capitol, hearing notices are posted outside committee rooms.
  • Pick a side. Decide if you want to support, oppose, or remain neutral on the piece of legislation open for debate. 
  • Research. Find information that supports your position and reserve it for use during your testimony. 
  • Keep it brief. Most hearings limit oral testimony to three minutes. Therefore, it is best to focus on one issue and express the one legislative outcome you want to see happen. 
  • Practice, practice, practice. Be sure to rehearse your testimony. Also, anticipate some questions that the committee might ask. 
  • At the end, summarize your key points and urge the committee to take appropriate action. If most of the people before you have already presented the points that you wanted to make, explain that you agree with what has been stated and that you hope the committee makes the right decision. 
The Day of the Hearing

  • Show up early to the hearing. Speakers usually testify on a first-come first-served basis. This will also allow for you to get a sense of the room. 
  • Register. For House hearings, you can register on the iPads located outside of the hearing room. Also for House hearing, you may register online, but you have to be connected the Texas Capitol wi-fi network. For Senate hearings, you will have to fill out a registration card.
  • Network. Public testimony hearings are also a great way to meet other advocates and share information to build legislative momentum post-committee hearings. If you provide written testimony to the committee, bring extra copies to provide to other advocates at the hearing.  
  • Wait for your name to be called. Depending on the chairperson, your name may be called right before you testify or it may be called in advance by groups of four. 
  • If you have written testimony, when it is your turn to speak, provide copies of your testimony to the committee clerk or committee chairperson. Sometimes, members will not be at the committee hearing. However, all committee members will receive a copy of your written testimony. 
  • At the beginning of your testimony, state your name and affiliation for the record. After the hearing has concluded, your name will appear on the witness list and a recording of your testimony will be available for viewing online. 
  • Be sure to thank the committee members for listening to your testimony.