Public speaking can be an intimidating experience. These tips are provided to help you prepare and communicate effectively.
OWEB Board meetings begin at 8:00 a.m. and usually proceed through the agenda items in order. However in special cases, the Board may take items out of order. Also, if the Board is aware that you are going to speak on a specific agenda item, they may request that you testify during that agenda item rather than at the more general public comment session.
Fill out a Comment Request Card.
There will be a table with printed copies of the staff reports usually in the back of the room. On this table are Comment Request Cards; please fill out one of these yellow forms and hand it to a designated OWEB employee. When it is your time to speak, you will be called forward by one of the co-chairs.
Begin by stating your name.
Start your testimony with, "For the record, [insert name], from [your affiliation]." Speak into the microphone. We suggest that you don’t provide the Board with printed materials.
Make a specific request.
You should be able to state your request in one clear, declarative sentence. All of the points you make in your testimony should support this request. For example, if you want them to move your grant application "above the line," state so directly, and provide reasons why they should do so.
Make it interesting.
Realize that Board members are people and have been sitting in a meeting for hours. They may hear many different (sometimes contradictory) ideas. In addition to facts, tell a story about real people and show the Board why they should care enough to listen to your perspective.
Write out what you’re going to say and practice it aloud several times until you can do it smoothly. You might try using a digital device (cell phone, etc.) to record yourself so you can hear yourself speak. Do you speak in a monotone? Do you repeat fillers (um..., and...,so...)? The best message can lose its message through poor delivery.
Keep it short (3 minutes).
Substance, not length, determines the value of testimony. While the Board asks that testimony be kept to 5 minutes or less, if you aim for 3, you may have time to answer a question or two from the Board. If you seem not to have a clear statement and are taking more than five minutes, they may ask you to conclude before you are finished with your comments.
If others have raised the same points, simply endorse what they've said rather than repeating prior testimony in detail. If you come as a group, designate a spokesperson who can take the lead in introducing the issue and other members of the group. Group members are generally given the same amount of time as an individual speaker, but may be asked to limit their time in order to accommodate all who are interested in speaking to the Board.