10 Tips on Preparing to Appear before a Parliamentary Committee

An appearance before a parliamentary committee can be an excellent opportunity to share your message. Here are 10 quick tips for preparing to appear before a legislative or parliamentary committee.

  1. You will often be given a few minutes for an opening statement and then engage in a question and answer session. Confirm with the Committee Clerk the length of time you have for opening remarks, in total before the Committee, and if you are part of a panel.
  2. Keep your opening statement concise and punchy. Make sure it includes at least one and no more than three recommendations. If you appear with a colleague from your organization, it is often best to have one speaker for opening statements and then share the Q and A portion.
  3. If appearing on a panel with other organizations, get a sense of what key messages they are likely to raise.
  4. Don’t spend too long in your opening remarks describing your organization or your background. Make sure your key messages are clear.
  5. Ask the Clerk or the office of the Committee Chair if there are particular issues the Committee would like you to address in your remarks.
  6. Research the work of the Committee and their work on the study for which you are appearing in front of the Committee. Who else has testified? What evidence has the Committee heard so far? This information will help guide you when drafting your remarks.
  7. If you are providing a written brief, provide it in advance so the Committee members can read it before the meeting.
  8. Research who the members of the Committee are, their background and if they have experience with your issue. Are there standard questions they are asking all the witnesses? Use this information to help you prepare.
  9. Make sure your recommendations are specific, well researched, viable and concrete. Vague or “Mom and Apple Pie” type recommendations will do little to advance your cause.
  10. Practice your opening remarks and spend time brainstorming questions you may be asked. Be clear on the message you wish to impart to the Committee.