This is the final in our series of excerpts from my new research report Thrill on the Hill: How to Turn Congressional Testimony into Public Policy Success.
Forget about delivering a speech with your most important audience in the hall. Never mind that CNBC interview you’ve been pursuing for months. Put out of your mind that pitch to potential funders of your business.
To be sure, those are all important milestones. Yet the most important business meeting you are ever likely to attend occurs when you testify before a Congressional committee.
You have a scant five minutes to plead your case, so you’d best make the most of it if you hope to reach your public policy objectives. Your presentation at the witness table and skill at navigating the Q&A session can make or break your reputation and that of your organization, to say nothing of the business opportunities you can gain or lose. Once gone, a clean reputation is difficult if not impossible to regain.
And remember one of the key findings of this research: You can put yourself miles ahead of your rivals by debriefing your performance. Relatively few government relations experts devote time to doing so—strange since that helps ramp up future odds for success in Congressional hearing rooms. Your long-run victory and achievement of your overall public affairs goals depends on it.
Prepare, perform, and debrief. Picture in your mind all the corporate titans and issues experts who have appeared before Congress only to leave with their heads hung low. Don’t let that be you.
It is my sincere hope that this research report—thanks to the participation of our expert survey respondents—has blazed a path to public policy success for you and your company, revealing traits that successful witnesses exhibit, how to organize your training workshop, the importance of the oral statement (and advice for how to write it), and how to follow up with members of Congress and their staffs.
I invite you contact me and share your tales of success the next time you take that pivotal seat at the Congressional witness table.