Meeting in-person with your Members of Congress is an important way to build a relationship with them and hold them accountable. It is also an important way for you to bring them information and experiences on an issue that they might not have, liked we discussed in "What is advocacy and why should I do it?"
Before your meeting, you will need to identify personalized and local information. Your representatives want to know how a bill, or an issue, affects their district or state. They also want personal stories from a constituent related to that bill or issue.
Tip: In addition to meeting with your representatives in person, you can also call their offices, send them letters or emails, and engage with them on social media. We cover some of these tools in “Other ways to engage your Members of Congress."
Before your meeting, there are a few things you’ll want to do.
- Decide how you want the meeting to go and agree upon this with your group. Our “Meeting Preparation Worksheet” will help with this.
- Decide on your desired outcome. Do you want to simply introduce yourself and your issue to your representatives? Do you want them to take a particular action, like make a statement about your issue or co-sponsor a piece of legislation?
- Reflect on a personal story about your issue. You can use a story about your community too. See “How to tell your advocacy story” on page xxx for how to identify and effectively structure your advocacy story.
- Contact the district or capital office to get contact information for the Scheduler, who will set up the meeting between you and the representative, or the appropriate staffer if the representative is not available.
- Meet with your group and practice your talking points out loud. Our “Meeting Outline Worksheet” will help with this.
Tip: You DO NOT need to be an “expert” in the issue(s) you care about in order to have an impact. Your story – your personal experience with the issue and your community’s experience with the issue – is what’s most important.
Download "The Advocate's Toolbox" for three, free worksheets to help you prepare for your meeting: Member of Congress Research worksheet, Meeting Preparation worksheet, and Meeting Outline worksheet.