How the Pandemic Has Altered Congressional Testimony

As with most things in life, the coronavirus pandemic has shifted the Congressional testimony landscape. Rather than appearing in an ornate hearing room, the odds are high that witnesses — and a fair share of the members of Congress — will appear remotely.

In response, I’ve just published a new edition of the research report Thrill on the Hill: Using Congressional Testimony to Achieve Public Policy Success.

How does appearing on video affect your preparations? Not much, really. Similar to media interviews and presentations on Zoom, the basics remain the same. As the report reads, “It is important to note that the same principles apply whether you testify in person or, during the pandemic and perhaps beyond, by remote video connection.”

Remote Testimony Is Here to Stay

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times over the past 10 months: It is difficult to set any long-range plans in stone. Yet it seems logical to assume that, even when we can again gather in person, legislative bodies will retain some option to appear remotely. After all, it opens up possibilities for Congress to elicit a wider range of experts since geography ceases to be a barrier.

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Thrill on the Hill spells out steps that government relations executives should follow when preparing their expert witnesses to appear before Congressional committees.

It addresses, for example, how to organize the training session to prepare your witnesses. One of the questions posed in the revised publication: “What if you’re preparing to testify remotely?” Among the suggestions:

  • Run several practice sessions to ensure your witness is up to speed on the technology.
  • Record the sessions, then play them back and critique, just as you would for an in person session.
  • Counsel your witness on obtaining quality audio and video (for more on this, email me to request the Insider Strategies brief “Become a Video Conference Pro”).

Your Most Important Business Meeting Ever

While Thrill on the Hill is geared toward testifying before Congress, it also applies to witnesses who advocate before their state legislatures as well as federal, state, and local regulatory panels.

The report maintains several important concepts. For instance, it reinforces the notion that Congressional testimony represents the most important business meeting a company’s executives will ever have. And it preserves the accent on the need for sustained improvement, arguing that too many organizations and individuals ignore this need, putting their long-term business and public policy goals in jeopardy.

The updated publication retains the one-page “Congressional Testimony at a Glance” quick reference guide, buttressed with this reminder: “If you are testifying remotely, be sure to work that aspect into your pre-testimony preparations.”

Thrill on the Hill is available to my clients to guide them through the process of testifying before lawmakers.


It’s the most important business meeting you’ll ever have

Is Congress or your state legislature calling on you to testify this year?
Perhaps the regulators who oversee your industry want to hear from you.
Careful preparation is a must. Get the help you deserve.
Call me at (703) 533-0403 to start planning before it’s too late.

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