Time to Shine: How to give evidence to an Assembly committee.

Introduction.

As a whole, there tend to be more men than women giving evidence to committee inquiries in the National Assembly for Wales. Between July 2011 and March 2014 , t here were some 369 witness appearances before the Enterprise and Business Committee. Only 110 of those appearances were female and this number falls to 96 if the Minister for Economy, Science and Transport is taken out of the equation.

Based on these figures, women account for 26% of witnesses called to give evidence to the Committee. Because the proportion of women is low, we have worked with the National Assembly to run a training session for women to build confidence and develop skills. We were only able to offer this training to a small number of women and so we have developed this resource pack in order that more women can benefit.

How to give oral evidence.

Giving oral evidence can be a daunting experience so it’s useful to make sure you have the best understanding of what to expect. This section provides advice on how to make sure you are well prepared and can give the be st performance possible.

  • Preparing to give oral evidence ( before the day ):

  • Speak to the clerk. The clerk’s role is to organise and advise on the committee’s work, support the Chair and draft reports. This means that the clerk has a lot of valuable knowledge to share so it is worthwhile speaking to them before the day.
  • Have a look at the previous transcripts from the same inquiry, particularly the Minister’s , to see what others have said. This means that you have an understanding of the debate so fa r and can add to this.
  • Watch committee sessions on Senedd TV. This will allow you to see what members are like and get a feel for their style.
  • Identify key messages so that you know what you want to get across.
  • Attending committee ( on the day ):

  1. Arrive on time ( if you are early, you can go into the public gallery and see what mood everyone is in ).
  2. Relax! Be aware that members can be passionate ; you are not being scrutinised but you have been invited there to talk about what you know.
  3. Be respectful. It can be quite a pressured situation so make sure you remain in control.
  4. Speak clearly. Members do want to hear your views so make sure they can hear and understand you. Members want to effect change and deliver improvements so they want you to be at your best.
  5. Be confident.
  6. Don’t ramble.
  7. Avoid jargon and acronyms if possible. If you have to use jargon words make sure the committee can understand the point your making.
  8. Be honest. Say if you don’t know. You can always send more information to the committee afterwards.
  9. Answer the question.
 

Part 1Advice for preparing written evidence.

Part 2A Chair’s advice for giving oral evidence.

Part 3 — How to give oral evidence.

Part 4How to provide good evidence for recording purposes.

Part 5Tips from a witness perspective.