Tips for Testifying

Giving Testimony

  1. Briefly thank the Council or other legislative body for their time and efforts on the matter at hand, and then get right to the point.
  2. Prepare your points ahead of time, and practice saying them. If you are part of a larger team of community commenters, coordinate your talking points to ensure that the Council hears your best arguments.
  3. It is better to read your statement than to try and wing it. People often get lost in what they are saying when they are unprepared to speak; these are not the most effective testimonies.
  4. Try to include specific stories and tie the stories to the larger point you are making.
  5. Don’t get distracted by other presenting opposing views. People may be saying vile and upsetting things. The indecency of these presenters speaks for itself. Reasonable people will not be swayed.
  6. Maintain composure. The Council does not like to be yelled at or threatened. They want to hear rational and relevant testimony about the merits or weaknesses of the proposed policy or ordinance.
  7. Thank the council again for their time.

Answering Questions from the Council

Do not be afraid to push back on council members who question you or raise questions about your testimony but always maintain composure. There is a difference between yelling and threatening AND responding forcefully.

Template for Emails to the City Council

Dear Mayor Cole and Members of the Billings City Council,

My name is <<name>>, and I live in Ward <<number (see attached ward map for your ward)>>. I am a <<occupation or description of your involvement in the community>>. I am writing to express my strongest support for the Welcoming Diversity Ordinance that includes protections for sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression because <<list any specific personal connections or stories you want the city council to know or arguments for the WDO that personally resonate with you>>.

Respectfully,

<<Name and Address (Those hesitate to use their home address may use the address for BFCC or 406 Pride—310 N. 27th Street, Billings, MT 59101)>>

Talking Points

Proponents of the WDO put together a quick set of talking points you can use when writing to the council or talking to your friends and neighbors.

Talking Points.jpg