Part 7: Meeting with Elected Officials

Be an Informed and Measured Source

Remember, all politics is local.

Undertake research on the issues that the elected official supports and think about how they can intersect with your advocacy concern. If they are part of a political party, look into their election platform or priorities documents to look for similar points of connection.

When you are meeting with elected officials, ensure your information is up-to-date and that you are aware of new policies, changes, and debates.

Knowing the lay of the land helps bolster your position as a knowledgeable, diligent, and credible source.

If you don’t know something, let them know that you will follow up with the information they are seeking – and make sure you follow through.

Give credit where credit is due and build good will. Publicize your meeting with the elected representative – they want to be seen consulting with community members. Also, make efforts to publicly recognize the contributions they make to progress on your issue. Remember the names of the official’s assistants and keep them updated on your advocacy issue at regular intervals. Invite them to your issue related events or organizational conferences as speakers.

Tips for a Successful Meeting

01. Be mindful of the time.

Elected officials have many competing demands, so keep track of time and make the first move to leave when your allotted time is up – this will be appreciated and may assist with your next meeting request.

Most meetings are only half an hour in length, so keep your presentation to 10-15 minutes, and maximize the dialogue time with your elected official.

02. Present your advocacy issue in a clear way.

What action do you want from your elected official? Put your “ask” on a PowerPoint deck of about seven or eight slides, with a limited number of bullets or images per slide, make copies, and bring it along to guide discussion.

Don’t forget that images can be powerful communication tools.

03. Listen to the questions they ask you.

The questions elected officials ask will give you valuable insights into their perspectives and priorities and are the most valuable part of the meeting.

The dialogue can also provide insights into misunderstandings that you will need to address head on with your advocacy campaign.