Hints for Public Speaking

If you have read a written statement or have other papers you want to give the judge as evidence, please bring copies with you. Bring an original, two copies for the court reporter and a copy for each party in the case (usually, that should be about 20 copies total).

Sometimes one of the parties in the case may want to ask you a question about something you said. This is called "cross-examination". Listen to the whole question. It is usually friendly. They may just want to make sure they understand your point.

  • Come early. 
    Try to arrive fifteen minutes ahead of the hearing time. Be there so you hear the introductions. There are advantages to speaking early.

  • Sign in to testify when you arrive. 
    The judge will call witnesses to speak from the order they have signed in. An additional sign up list will be available throughout the hearing.

  • Prepare what you are going to say beforehand. 
    Even though it's not required, you may want to prepare a written statement. There is nothing wrong with reading your statement.

  • Make your presentation as specific as you can. 
    Don't let the listeners guess what your position is. Emphasize your most important points.

  • Stay to the point.
    If a number of individuals have made the same point, you may repeat it, but don't dwell on it. You could represent a different service area or show how the issue isn't an isolated issue. If there are many speakers, you may be asked to limit the time you speak.

  • Add your own perspective. 
    Each person comes to a hearing with unique information or background. Give specific examples that support issues important to you.

  • Speak slowly and calmly.

  • Be sworn in. 
    Your testimony will not become part of the record in the case unless you are sworn in as a witness.