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4 Key Tips for Briefing in Washington, DC

What are the key tips for briefing in Washington, DC?


These four key tips for briefing in Washington, DC will help you deliver a productive and effective meeting every time.

  1. Respect the time of your audience
  2. Don’t tell them everything you know
  3. Identify the benefits of your proposal
  4. Identify the corollary to the benefit of your proposal

We are at the tail end of the season for legislative proposals and inputs to Congress for FY23. Across all sectors of industry, thousands of meetings support companies bringing their ideas and requests forward. High quality meetings can influence the final outcomes of the FY23 authorizations and appropriations legislation. The specifics of the legislation will inform the subsequent acquisition process.

The key to success in briefing Congress can apply to any Washington, DC meeting. I conduct hundreds of Washington, DC meetings annually, either live or virtual. Conduct is the operative word because when you request a meeting, you need to be prepared to run the meeting.

Here are the four tips I think about when briefing in Washington:


1. Respect the time of your audience.

Go overboard respecting time. I use my 8-minute messaging rule where my message is delivered and understood in eight minutes or less. By doing so, I allow time for appropriate questions. Most importantly, I give the audience time back in their day. In doing so, I am seen over time as well-prepared, easy to work with, and above all, professional.

2. Don’t tell them everything you know.

It’s appropriate to acknowledge your credentials and why your expertise matters; however, keep it light. If you were valedictorian of your engineering curriculum, or a Rhodes scholar, congratulations. Let them learn that on LinkedIn when they check you out—they will.

3. Identify the benefits of your proposal

Think in terms bigger than yourself or your company. Why is this idea or use of funds good for national security, the community, or competition in the industrial base?

4. Identify the corollary to the benefit of this methodology.

What happens if you continue the status quo or do nothing? Presumably, your idea is solving a problem or will result in an improvement. What costs come with the “do nothing” approach. Use this to your advantage.

Here’s a rule of thumb to consider. Spend twice as much time answering questions from your audience as you do presenting your material. The key here is your 8-minutes must be well-thought-out and delivered with ease, not rote rehearsal. Click To Tweet

Be present, and stay tuned for the questions. Your audience will remember you much more favorably.

The Make Your Move podcast is a multi-season series devoted to the lessons learned of military members in their post-active duty lives. I hope you enjoy the stories of the men and women brave enough to share their transition stories so publicly. Listen to the latest episode here.

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