Capitol Hill Operates on its Own Time

Welcome back to our ongoing series to help you advance your public policy success when conducting Washington, D.C., fly-ins with your employees and members.

Expect highly fluid timetables and meeting participants during your Washington, D.C., fly-ins, for Capitol Hill is legendary for its last minute adjustments (some might call this an organizational attention deficit disorder; regardless, you have to roll with the changes).

Once in the door, it is up to your team to control the flow as best they can. While briefly establishing rapport is fine, it is best to avoid long digressions about such windy topics as common hometowns or alma maters. Get down to business quickly.

You and ywristwatchour colleagues have spent much time and forethought on developing your messages. Don’t waste that effort. Job number one is to commit to delivering them during your meetings. Plot out ahead of time what can realistically be covered in 15 minutes, five minutes, or 15 seconds. As noted above, schedules can change in the blink of an eye. Thus, you must be prepared to alter how much of your message you can deliver, too.

To emphasize this point, encourage your group to organize remarks as they would for a speech. Develop and deliver quotable quotes that will stick in the member’s mind. Use the techniques learned during the rehearsal that took place in your preparatory workshop directed by you and your consultant.

Also advise your advocates that a Congressional office is an often frenzied place, so they should be prepared to ignore any distractions. There are likely to be plenty—staffers whispering in their boss’ ear, phone calls, and people scurrying in and out of the room seemingly at random, just to cite a few. Do your best to keep a conversational flow going in your chosen direction no matter how hectic things may become.

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