Meeting your legislators in person is an effective way to talk to them about what matters to you.
Tips for meeting with your legislator:
- Schedule your meeting: Email, mail, or call your legislator to request a meeting. When you do this, be sure to tell them what you want to talk about. If you’re their constituent, tell them. If you’re bringing another constituent or someone else to the meeting, let them know. Don’t ambush them with unexpected guests.
- Be flexible and patient: Give your legislator time to respond to your request for a meeting. Understand the best time to build your relationship with a legislator is before or after session – legislators are very busy January through May, so keep that in mind!
- Prepare: Once you have a meeting scheduled, it’s time to prepare.
- Educate yourself. Is the legislator a co-sponsor of a measure you support? Have they supported issues important to you in the past? Do you have connections in common with the legislator? Can you personalize your relationship? (Do your kids go to school together, for example?)
- Decide on your goals and what you hope to get out of this meeting. Introducing yourself? Getting the legislator to understand your point of view on a certain topic? Getting their support or opposition to a particular bill?
- Tell a story: Share your own story or experiences - don't worry about trying to be an expert. The more personal your story, the more people will understand your perspective. Ask yourself how the proposed legislation will affect you, your family, or friends.
- Problem, Solution, Action: At your meeting, you should include the problem, the solution, and the action that you want taken. Example:
- Problem: Legislators have introduced a bill that would fund the construction of a new jail. There is increasing misinformation on jails and this project and legislators think they are protecting the public by introducing this bill.
- Solution: Win hearts and mind so that people understand how wasteful and ineffective this bill is at advancing public safety. Get people to write to their legislators and understand that this bill impacts communities of color and incarcerated people in negative way.
- Action: Urge legislators to vote NO on this bill. Tell legislators you want them to spend time on things that address police violence, community services, and housing instead of measures that contribute to mass incarceration.
- Plan the flow of the meeting. If more than one person is attending, make sure you know who is speaking about what, who takes notes, and what everyone’s roles are.
- Follow up: After the meeting, don’t forget to send a thank you note to leave a lasting impression and strengthen the relationship you’ve established.
Additional Tips for In-Person Meetings
- Dress comfortably but professionally.
- Be prompt and patient.
It's possible that you will only have the opportunity to meet with a staff person. That's ok. Make your pitch and remember that this person has the attention of the legislator you are trying to reach.
- Keep it short and focused! You may have as little as 10 minutes if you meet with your legislator. Make the most of that brief time by sticking to your topic and talking points.
- Bring up any personal, professional or political connections that you may have to the elected official.
- Provide personal and local examples of the impact of the legislation. This is the most important thing you can do in a lobby visit.
- Saying “I don’t know” can be a smart political move.
- Take the ‘Yes’!
- Set deadlines for a response. Ask when you should check back in to find out what your elected official intends to do about your request
- Take a picture of your sign up sheet and email to us at firstname.lastname@example.org/
- Let’s debrief. We want to hear all about your event! Click here to report back on your event.