Presenting a submission

Know your message

  • Work out your key message, making it unique and as memorable as possible.

Get it across briefly and clearly

  • Plan to speak for no more than five minutes – time yourself when practising. Keep five minutes extra in reserve in case you are offered longer to speak, and have a three-minute version ready in case of time pressures.
  • Do not assume that the committee members have read your submission.
  • Do not read your submission word for word, but plan your presentation flow on the submission. Use ordinary language, with the occasional strong phrase to stress a point. Speak clearly. Avoid being too technical.
  • Remember that you are probably not speaking to experts.

Watch and learn

  • It’s a good idea to get there early and watch other submitters present to the committee. You’ll get a feel for the process and see some of the dynamics at play.  

Give it colour and life

  • Use anecdotes, especially personal experiences, to get committee members on your side. Telling a story about an issue and/or talking about yourself is a good way to get a message across.
  • If possible, and if it does not confuse your message, have someone with you who can give the message more depth and character.

Stay calm

  • These committees are often pressed for time. Don’t panic if they limit your presentation time and just make the best of the time you have.
  • Some committee members may have established positions, beliefs or interests in the debate – and they may disagree with what you’re saying. Don’t get flustered – you know what matters to you! Stick to your key messages and stand your ground. 

Plan for the worst

  • Anticipate the most difficult questions from people that might not agree with your message and plan your answers. If possible, deal with those issues in your presentation.

Do not say what you cannot justify

  • Avoid making open-ended comments and exaggerations that you cannot prove. This only plays into opponents’ hands.

Do not demonise the committee members

  • The committee members will have a variety of views on your issue. This is necessary for a healthy debate and all interests deserve to be represented.
  • Remember that a hearty debate is a good thing – make sure you give your argument the best possible chance to get the airtime it deserves. 

Give them a bit more

  • If you have something new and urgent to say, or more in-depth information on a matter raised in your submission, produce a supplementary submission. It could be in your own words, some statistics, an item from the media or a piece of research. The committee staff will take the paper for recording and distribution.
  • You can also reference and discuss what you might hear from other submitters before you. 

Say it with more than words

  • If there is a non-oral way of getting your point across (with role play, photographs, slides etc) and it fits with your topic, use it. Make your submission memorable for the committee.

Wrap it up

If you want changes to a policy or an inquiry to make certain recommendations, make it clear and even provide wording.