One of the purposes for the Recovery Advocacy Project is to build a visible and effective constituency in demand of “community and public policy based solutions” in response to America’s long-standing addiction crisis.
Public Hearings can be excellent ways for you, as the grassroots advocate, to have an impact on these community and public policy based solutions.
Here are a few examples of where you can provide Public Testimony:
Speaking at public hearings may sound scary if you are new to it. This is normal.
It is our hope that this step-by-step guide will prepare and empower you to share your recovery story in public at a hearing so that you can come to realize what many recovery Advocates before you have come to realize…
That providing public testimony is one of the most rewarding and impactful things you can do as an advocate.
NOTE* Testifying for or against legislation does not mean you need to be an expert on the bill. You are there to share your story and experiences, and how the law may affect you or other people in recovery. There are most likely public policy experts testifying on the specifics of the bill. Your role is as a recovery advocate with a story to share.
There are a few things that you can do beforehand that will help you shape the most impactful testimony.
We encourage all recovery advocates to review recovery language that will help you focus on solutions and also speak while not using language that adds to any negative stigma that already exists about people in recovery.
Do some research before your testimony. Many public hearings will have guidelines for the public to follow, like time limits or if you can testify with one or more recovery advocates at a time. Many of these rules can be found online (like your states legislature website), or you can contact the organizers of the hearing and ask some questions.
You should be able to find out:
Here is a quick example of how a State Legislature has taken the time to provide some guidance on their website to the public around testifying. This example is from the state or Oregon, but you may want to Google “ (Your State Name) State Legislature ”to see if you can research on your own.
Writing out your testimony before the hearing does a number of things including:
Try to practice your written testimony out loud a few times. Work to get a sense of the main points you wish to get across. You can also set a timer to see if you stay in the suggested time frame of the testimony.
The more you practice the easier the testimony will be live. Keep working to give your testimony without reading it. It even helps to pretend there is a panel of people listening in front of you.
If you are new to giving testimony, your best bet is to arrive early and watch a few people give testimony before you. It allows you to get a feel for the committee and the room. This is also a good networking opportunity. Try to pay attention to what organizations are there and feel free to reach out to them if you hear a testimony that inspires you.
Arriving early also allows you to take note of how the committee responds if people go over time. Sometimes there will be someone letting individuals know if they are close to their allotted time.
Here are some things to expect: