So much skill, care, and hard work goes into developing thorough policy recommendations. Analysts spend months gathering research, analyzing data, developing solutions, and evaluating pros, cons, and possible outcomes from every angle.
Then comes the crucial stage of presenting those findings in a comprehensive proposal.
In addition to ensuring accuracy and thoroughness, what else should policy analysts do to make sure their ideas are clearly understood and highly valued?
Start with these 5 steps to more impactful and persuasive policy proposals.
1. Consider your audience
This is the age-old rule of communications. Before you begin mapping out your presentation, think about who will be listening on the other end. A decision-maker? Someone with already entrenched views on the subject? What is their background and area of expertise?
The way you frame your findings should reflect the audience you're addressing. The facts themselves won't change, but the way you communicate them should.
2. Avoid complex & obscure language
As a researcher and analyst, you are likely more comfortable than most people with academic and technical jargon.
It will seem totally reasonable to replicate this kind of language in your own policy proposal. But is this the most effective and efficient way to get your point across?
As much as possible, your recommendations must be quick to grasp and easy to digest. You may not have long to make your pitch (be it oral or written), so it's crucial that your audience can connect the dots without too much of a struggle.
Don't bury your ideas with complex and obscure language. This is a self-defeating tactic that will only serve to distract and confuse your audience.
3. Capture the main ideas
Practice summarizing your analysis and recommendations in just a few minutes—or a couple of short paragraphs. What are the key messages or big ideas you absolutely must get across?
Think of this as developing an "elevator pitch" version of your proposal. The exercise will help you cut through unnecessary complexity, and crystallize the main ideas.
Consider this: If your meeting suddenly gets cut from half an hour to 10 minutes, how would you adapt your proposal without sacrificing its impact?
4. Back up your claims
When streamlining your presentation, don't make the mistake of cutting out key evidence you'll need to support your claims and recommendations.
Your role is not merely to "tell", but also to explain your reasoning, and show how you arrived at a particular conclusion.
Your findings must be rooted in fact and reflect thorough research. Your proposal must show that you've used a logical model for analyzing data and evaluating outcomes—that you've considered the feasibility of your recommendations with as much objectivity as possible.
Consider counter-arguments and alternative interpretations, and address those head-on in your proposal.
5. take criticism in stride
No policy recommendation is "perfect", and a number of factors can influence whether your proposal is accepted or shelved.
Your goal is to conduct as thorough an analysis as possible, and present next steps (and their implications) as clearly as you can. You can't expect to control the final decision.
What can you do if your proposal is rejected? Take the time to review your presentation, pinpoint weaknesses, and develop a plan for improvement for the next time around.
Learn more about public policy training
Are you looking to strengthen your policy-making skills, or planning to start a career in public policy?
If you already have a degree or experience in this field, a targeted public policy certificate is an excellent way to sharpen your skills.
Explore the Public Policy and Administration certificate offered at Kompass.
This course can be spread out from 7-12 weeks, is delivered entirely online, and includes personalized support from a highly experienced instructor.
Click below to see a detailed overview and course list, or chat live with an Admissions Advisor for more information. We're here to help.