Defence Science and Technology Laboratory - Appearing Before a Select Committee

Wed 02 Mar 2016

Defence Science and Technology Laboratory - Appearing Before a Select Committee

Client: Defence Science and Technology Laboratory

Programme: Appearing Before a Select Committee

(Delivered in Salisbury, UK, 2016)

The client

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) is an executive agency sponsored by the Ministry of Defence. It ensure that innovative science and technology contributes to the defence and security of the UK.

The problem

DSTL were asked to appear in front of the House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology and they got in touch with Dods Training to help with the preparations of the appearance.

Our actions

We first arranged a conference call with the client and the trainer to better understand the context of the Select Committee appearance and which colleagues from DSTL will be attending the session. The group consisted of those who would appear in front of the committee and those who would be involved in the preparation. To maximise time for the practical filmed element of the course, we divided the training into two halves so the colleagues due to appear will be able to practice in a smaller group in the second half of the training. We also asked for further information to be passed on once DSTL has received more briefing from the Committee so the trainer can tailor the questions during the practice. After the date of the appearance was rescheduled we arranged for a follow up call to ensure our trainer is aware of any new developments.

During the day our trainer started with an overview of how select committees work and how delegates can ensure their messages are aligned with DSTL’s broader communications strategy. The opening sessions also provided an opportunity to explore how this particular committee formulate their questions. The group watched clips of previous appearances to gain an insight into the dynamic between the members and each members’ interests and expertise.

The second half of the training provided those who were due to appear an opportunity to practice based on challenging and relevant questions. The trainer, alongside a colleague from DSTL, acted as committee members and posed questions to delegates that were both technically detailed and politically challenging. Through this exercise the delegates were able to familiarise themselves with the type of pressure they will be under and practice how they can effectively communicate their messages. As DSTL will be appearing before the committee alongside colleagues from other related organisations, it was also important to make sure delegates are clear on the remit of their answers.

After the filmed session the trainer provided expert feedback and highlighted areas that may require further preparation. The clip was also sent to the delegates after the course for further review.


The course received fantastic feedback and the delegates found the filmed exercise particularly helpful. Our trainer able to pose relevant challenging questions and was very well prepared on the work of DSTL as well as the committee.  

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