What to Expect when you Testify Before Congress

When you must testify before Congress, it is a good idea to know what to expect and how to conduct yourself in order to obtain the best results. In most instances, you will only have a few minutes to make your case if you are going to be testifying in support or opposition to legislation. Therefore, it is imperative to get your point across in the shortest amount of time possible.

House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property
Creative Commons License photo credit: tvol

First, introduce yourself and your position. This should be part of your opening statement. Make sure that your testimony remains focused on the issue at hand. Your testimony should be filled with passion but do not include anything extraneous. Choose three of the most important things you want to say and remain focused on those three points.

Keep your oral testimony simple. Do not include technical jargon or numerous statistics that could be confusing or detract from your main points.

Keep in mind that at any time during your testimony you could be cut off or have your time shortened. This is why it is important to make sure that you have an extremely abbreviated pitch, lasting no more than 30 seconds, practiced and prepared so that you can use it on demand as required.

When you are testifying you never know who may be in the hearing room. There could be reporters or even bloggers who may be influenced by what you have to say during your testimony.

Finally, remain polite and cordial. Do not attack anyone personally. Keep your comments on point and restricted to the issue at hand.

Courses

Publications



Legislative Drafter’s Deskbook: A Practical Guide


Citizen’s Handbook to Influencing Elected Officials: Citizen Advocacy in State Legislatures and Congress: A Guide for Citizen Lobbyists and Grassroots Advocates


Testifying Before Congress


The Federal Budget Process: A description of the federal and congressional budget processes, including timelines

CongressionalGlossary.com, from TheCapitol.Net






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