Persuading Congress – Establishing your Argument

In attempting to persuade members of Congress to consider your issue, remember that facts reside at the heart of a successful argument. No amount of rhetoric can have more of an impact than facts that are solidly researched.

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Facts have the ability to make or break your efforts. Before you even begin making any efforts toward persuading members of Congress, it is important to spend an ample amount of time carefully studying the facts. Try to analyze the relevant facts from every possible angle, because you can be certain that members of Congress will do this.

One mistake many people make when testifying is believing that everyone else views the facts from their perspective. Members and their staff members come from a variety of backgrounds and are concerned about all sorts of issues that are not relevant to you. As a result, some of them will view your situation differently than you.

In working to assemble a persuasive argument, you must make certain that the assertions of your case are actually factual. If you get caught lying or just slightly coloring the truth, your credibility can be immediately damaged. At the same time, you also want to check the facts of your opponents’ assertions.

Members prefer real people and stories with a human-interest angle. You will have a greater chance of succeeding if you are able to Persuading Congress, by Joseph Gibsonprovide a compelling human interest angle. By and large, members are much more responsive to tangible human needs rather than abstract statistics–this is why bills that seek to remedy a problem within the criminal justice system often bear the name of a crime victim. It humanizes the problem.

Finally, always make sure you emphasize whatever parts of your case or story will appeal most to the individual with whom you are speaking. Feel free to change that emphasis as you speak with different people.

To learn more about crafting a persuasive argument, consider our workshop Effective Briefings: The Art of Persuasion.

Reference: Persuading Congress, by Joseph Gibson, Chapter 27, Facts and Arguments

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