Thrill on the Hill: How to Testify Before Congress

It’s the most important business meeting you’ll ever have. What could it possibly be? Testifying before a Congressional committee.

That’s the topic of Ed Barks’ research report: Thrill on the Hill: How to Turn Congressional Testimony into Public Policy Success.

The 32-page report answers a series of questions that every organization faces—or should face—when preparing to appear before members of Congress. The research revolves around answers supplied by public affairs experts who responded to a survey Barks conducted.

There are some really smart people in the government relations sphere, and Barks expressed his gratitude to those who took the time to contribute their valuable thoughts about how to succeed as a witness on Capitol Hill.

Among the questions examined in Thrill on the Hill: How to Turn Congressional Testimony into Public Policy Success:

  • What can be done to mentally prepare witnesses to avoid intimidation?
  • What procedures do you follow in drafting the oral statement?
  • What steps do you take to prepare a witness for delivering the oral statement and the Q&A?
  • How do you organize the training session to prepare your witness to deliver the oral testimony?
  • How do you use today’s testimony to get better when testifying the next time?

The notion of how to improve an executive’s capabilities in the witness chair is an important—and all too often neglected—path to success. The research discovered a troubling note with regard to the importance of a post-testimony debriefing: The prospect that some government relations executives are paying relatively little attention to improvement over time.

That is perhaps the most important finding contained in Thrill on the Hill, for it has a direct impact on the quality of an organization’s long-term survival in the public affairs arena.

Survey questions pursuing this issue were skipped by more respondents than any other queries, raising suspicions that these critical debriefing efforts and attention to improvement over time are given short shrift.

As Barks writes in Thrill on the Hill: How to Turn Congressional Testimony into Public Policy Success, “Done right, five minutes spent testifying before a Congressional committee means attaining your public policy goals, pushing legislation that can make billions for your company, and burnishing your reputation—both organizationally and personally. Done wrong, you are in a world of hurt. Think of all the corporate and government officials who have been trotted before Congress, filleted, and left with a never-to-be rehabilitated name.”

Barks’ latest research report provides business and association government affairs pros with a blueprint for emerging victorious when testifying before Congress. The principles also apply to such forums as state legislatures, and federal and state regulatory agencies.

As with all of his research publications, Barks makes his new report available at no charge on his web site at