How to testify


Many of our readers eventually wind up sitting at a table before a congressional committee. Usually this involves one of the Commerce committees, although others sometimes get in on the fun. Politico has come out with a handy, dandy guide to make sure your testimony is successful. The advice comes from  West Wing Writers execs Jeff Nussbaum and Vinca LaFleur, writing for

For starters, at least one legislator is likely to be against whatever you’re for, and may question you sharply and even acidly. It is suggested that you avoid responding in kind and maintain your own tone, which often can disarm the most aggressive interrogator.

Second, try to anticipate areas in which you will be attacked and defuse them in your opening remarks. For example, if you expect to be accused of trying to build a media monopoly in your hometown; you may want to open by describing how you are building assets and financial viability in order to provide top-notch local news and information.

Finally, they suggest honesty. If you are there to explain how something bad happened, you may frame the bad event, but do not duck your own responsibility, whatever it may have been. Sure, the economy may be horrid, but your decision to acquire Asset X at too high a price didn’t help either.