The act of sharing your Raelian experiences is valuable to helping others make important decisions. Would you like to learn how to write an effective testimony and make a difference?
1. Who Are You?
The first decision you need to make when writing a testimony is whether or not you should remain anonymous, and to what degree.
By remaining anonymous:
- Your privacy is protected
- You’re able to share more sensitive information
- Chance of reprisal is diminished
- Difficult to know who to trust
- Validity of released information is questioned
By revealing your identity:
- Your privacy may be at risk
- There may be attempts to prevent you from revealing any further information (eg: legal threats)
- Increased chance of reprisals
- You lend credibility to the released information
- Readers may connect/identify with you more
Typical concerns that former members have expressed include:
- How people may judge them, knowing they were members of a high demand group
- Their personal/professional lives may be negatively impacted
Here are some ideas when writing your testimony:
Decide whether you’ll use your full name (John Citizen), partial name (John C.) or a pseudonym (Mr. X).
No need to tell your whole life story, just enough for the reader to understand the context of the information you are sharing – how likely it is you had access to this information, how reliable your observations may be, what your motivations may be, etc…
Do you have any qualifications or experience in an area that lends credibility to your statement? EG: an accountant discussing financial observations, medical professional sharing a medical opinion, etc…
Let go of the ego! Try to avoid making claims that may be off-putting such as knowing something others didn’t and you are smarter than the reader, or demonstrating a need for attention or recognition. Let the information be the star of the show.
2. Decide What You Want To Say
The purpose of the testimony should be to present information to allow someone else to take it into consideration when wanting to reach some sort of conclusion about the Raelian Movement. There’s no need to try to convince or convert anyone. By sharing your experience, it may encourage others to come forward and corroborate your story.
- Put all your ideas down in whatever form works best for you. This can be writing, creating an electronic document, making a mind map or diagram.
- Review your information as you might remember more. Keep adding.
- If you are writing this for yourself as part of the healing process, consider creating a separate document just for that and treat yourself as the reader and let it flow.
3. Trim the Fat
This is where the work begins. ask yourself: “what am I trying to say and why?” Now remove anything that does not add value to your contribution. It’s tempting to add all the details, especially if what you are writing about is linked to strong emotions you’ve experienced, but we mustn’t forget that we are writing this for others. If it’s too much to read, some readers may give up just before coming across information that is extremely beneficial for them.
Stick to the goal – if it’s not adding value, remove it.
Look out for repetition. If multiple ideas are very similar, see if there’s a way you can bundle them together.
- Consider re-arranging/grouping your information for a better flow when reading.
4. Choose your Voice and Tone
While it’s important to be yourself and not put on a show when writing a testimonial, be aware of the subtleties of your tone, or in other words – how you’ll “sound” to the reader. Some people tend to write how they speak, however the downside is that it may exhaust or confuse the reader. Take advantage of the fact that you are writing something in your own time, review and refine your words and consider getting someone to read your text and see if your message was easy to understand and read.
Imagine yourself as the reader and read your text as if for the first time, or better yet – get someone else to read it and provide feedback.
No need to be Shakespeare, write at a level you are comfortable with.
Don’t… don’t be! Too erratic!.. avoid it!!!! Focus on the rhythm… the rhythm and FLOW!
5. Put Facts Before Feelings
If you’re trying to convince, then you would use feelings and emotions to manipulate your readers, but if you’re trying to inform, then a testimonial should be as factual as possible.
This doesn’t mean you should write like an emotionless robot, but keep a good balance without letting emotions dominate. It’s too easy for emotions to take over the conversation and drown out the facts causing your document to be a record of opinion, rather than of fact.
Express and own your emotions, but do not let them become the foundation of your testimony.
If you’re going to declare something about a person or event, ALWAYS back it up with facts. Your “feeling” about this may be correct, but it is an opinion without facts to back it up.
By presenting the facts first, you are respecting your reader and allowing them to think for themselves and in return to respect you for not pushing your opinions on to them.
6. Add Legitimacy to Your Claims
By now you have a document giving your reader enough information to understand you and the context of the information that you are sharing with them. Now they will assimilate what they’ve learned by evaluating the information against what they know. One of the things affecting this is who you are.
We’ve already addressed this in a previous section, so once again we should have a brief review about how much we wish to tell our reader about ourselves – enough to give credibility to your claims, but not so much that you are exposing yourself more than you wish too.
Demonstrate your expertise or experience in relation to the information you’ve conveyed will help add value to it. eg: “I have worked as an accountant for large organisation for over 20 years and consider the practices I witnessed highly suspect and prone to error” as opposed to: “I had a funny feeling it was not right, that’s how I knew they were up to no good.”
Stating your real identity shows you are prepared to answer to your claims and gives readers a means to corroborate the information if they want to.
Formally writing an Affidavit or similar legal document and showing a signed copy demonstrates that you are willing face the legal consequences of making false claims and that you stand behind them.
7. Add Changes, But Never Re-Write
There should be very little reason to make changes to your testimonial and depending on what you change it could affect the legitimacy of your claims. The key to maintaining authenticity is to remain open, explain why you need to make changes but keep all changes to your testimonial available for review – readers may become suspicious if something has changed without knowing what or why.
A good example is when reader reviews of mobile apps. Often reviewers will add an update that may have been negative, and change it to positive if an issue has been resolved or was misunderstood.
In regards to testimonials, changes you might need to make may include the correction of errors, the inclusion of forgotten details or clarification of ideas where there was confusion previously.
Leave a trail of updated documents to provide transparency and allow for independent auditing.
Briefly explain your changes.
Always add, never delete – this may create distrust.
A testimony is a document to provide information to help someone make an informed decision for themselves, therefore as the author, you are writing for your readers and not for yourself.
Hopefully these tips will help you convey the information you want to share, in a way which will allow the reader to absorb the main points easily and to allow them the opportunity to come to their own conclusions.
There’s no need to be a professional writer or to pretend to be anything you’re not – with just a bit of effort you can convey your ideas and a sense of who you are, easily and effectively.