Author’s Note: If you missed Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, or Part 4 of our Chairman’s Corner series last month, read it now before continuing on with this article. All five questions to ask yourself prior to making a proposal are pivotal to a successful pitch. This is the final article in this five part series.
I had the opportunity to serve the 25th District of California in the U.S. House of Representatives for 22 years. During that time, I served as Chairman on both the House Armed Services Committee and the House Education and the Workforce Committee. I’ve sat through countless presentations, and this final word of advice is crucial in delivering a successful pitch.
Part 5 of 5
The fifth and final question to ask yourself is: Am I Respectful of Their Time?
While responding to the needs of constituents is the first priority for any elected government official, there are thousands of people clamoring to be heard at any given moment. Therefore, be respectful of their time – arrive early for the appointment, get to the point quickly and be prepared to end on time. And always make sure you allow enough time for questions and discussion.
While serving as the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, a meeting I had with the Ambassador of Japan illustrates this point. At the outset, he politely thanked me for my time, and then proceeded to outline his proposal. I thought the proposal was a good idea and began to question him further on a few details. However, fully aware that we reached the end of our allotted time, the Ambassador stood up, thanked me again for my time and noted he didn’t want to encroach upon the rest of my day. Therefore, he asked if another date could be scheduled to further the discussion. I appreciated how considerate he was, and as a result I took the initiative to follow-up and continue our discussions.
After sitting in on and participating in hundreds of proposal presentations, I can tell you that navigating the proposal process in Congress can be daunting. However, with diligent preparation – which includes asking yourself the aforementioned questions – along with a healthy dose of persistence, it’s possible to “Stand Out” and make the process far less challenging.