Your senators and representatives want to hear from their constituents – like you – about the issues that concern them the most. Meeting in person with lawmakers or their staff is just one of the many actions you can take to make your voice heard.
Below you will find some steps on how to prepare oneself for a meeting beforehand, tips for the meeting itself and follow up. You will also find an example meeting minutes form on which you can record your experiences.
Find your representative and senators:
U.S. House: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find/
U.S. Senate: https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
How to Get the Most Out of Your Meeting
- Do Your Homework. Know the lawmaker’s stance on our issue(s) before the meeting. This may involve reading fact sheets, the lawmaker’s legislative website and recent news stories. Know if he/she has any pet issues or particular areas of concern.
Bring a Clear Ask/Request. Staff are very busy, so to the extent that it’s possible, be clear and brief in your desired outcomes for the meeting, and (politely) press for a commitment. The Defend Our Future leave-behind, fact sheets and other materials in writing will help.
Remember—Everything is local. Come armed with information about how X issue will play in the district—both in the sense of politics and policy effects writ large. Come up with local reasons as to why the member should do X.
Don’t Make Anything Up. Our credibility is everything. If you don’t know the answer to a question, tell the member/staff you will find out and follow up promptly in an email or call to staff.
Take Good Notes. Make a note of date, time, location of the meeting. Which staff attended? Who joined you? What information did you share? What questions did the member/staff ask? What questions did you ask? Is there a need for follow-up? Provide as much information as you can in the meeting minutes form to help get clarity on the office’s position so you know how best to move forward.
Follow-Up! Make sure you follow-up with any information requests, send thank yous for the meeting, and be politely persistent with the member and staff in future interactions. It pays off to maintain the relationship; one-offs won’t accomplish anything.
Download the Meeting Minutes Form.