A Practical Guide to Preparing and Delivering Testimony Before Congress and Congressional Hearings for Agencies, Associations, Corporations

, Military, NGOs, and State and Local Officials

By William N. LaForge

Testifying Congress
Before

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Preparation of Written Testimony §3.52

§ 3.51 Dissecting Written Witness Testimony or Statements in a Nutshell— The Essential Methods for Building the Case and Developing the Argument
(For more complete information, see § 3.40, Building the Case and Developing the Argument.) In a nutshell, the essential components of building the case and developing the arguments for congressional testimony or statements include: 1) Committee Advocacy: Education, Persuasion, and Argumentation (§ 3.41); 2) Explanation of Issues, Facts, and Remedies Sought (§ 3.42); 3) Witness Standing and Credibility (§ 3.43); 4) Importance of Succinct Position Outline (§ 3.44); 5) Public Policy Rationale, Support, and Reasoning (§ 3.45); 6) Framing the Issue (§ 3.46); 7) Distinguishing from Opposition Position: Comparing, Contrasting, and Categorizing (§ 3.47); and 8) “Playing” to the Committee Audience and Connecting to Members’ Interests (§ 3.48).

§ 3.52 HITS: Humor in Testimony— Mark Twain
There are moments in the history of congressional committee hearings in which someone larger than life has had the opportunity to testify and, moreover, to deliver a message to a committee that is both serious and humorous at once. One such occasion involved Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as Mark Twain and widely considered to be the greatest humorist of 19th-century American literature, who contributed a major piece of humor in the context of his testimony before a congressional hearing in 1906. Assuming his public persona by notably wearing a white suit that became his signature uniform, the 71-year-old author appeared before the Congressional Joint Committee on Patents to share his thoughts on a pending copyright bill. Twain was the main and final witness of the hearing, which was held in the Congressional Reading Room of the Library of Congress. Before an unusually large crowd for a congressional hearing, Twain expressed his strong support for copyright protection for authors, artists, and musicians. His testimony, part-serious, part-humorous, was considered to be very influential in the eventual development of copyright law.

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Remarks of Samuel Langhorne Clemens before the Congressional Joint Committee on Patents, December, 1906

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Source: Arguments before the Committees on Patents of the Senate and House of Representatives, Conjointly, on the Bills S. 6330 and H.R. 19853 To Amend and Consolidate the Acts Respecting Copyright, 59th Cong. 116-121 (1906) (statement of Samuel L. Clemens). Statement accessible online at: <www.TCNTwain.com>.

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