In-Person Meetings

Step-by-Step Process for a Successful Meeting

Face-to-face meetings with lawmakers or their staff add value to the advocacy process. Your lawmakers want to hear from you, their constituent, about the important issues facing the district, the state, and the country.

The following information will help you have a successful meeting. If you are planning to meet with your lawmaker about ASHA priorities, please let ASHA’s Federal and Political Affairs team know at federal@asha.org.

Planning Tips

  • Clarify the purpose of the meeting, thinking about what your goals are.
  • Identify the issues you’d like to discuss.
  • Determine how many audiologists and speech-language pathologists (SLPs) to include in the meeting.
  • Find out if other associations are working on the issue and, if so, consider including them in the meeting to amplify a collective voice.

Request a Meeting

Each year, members of Congress take several "district work period" breaks where they leave Washington, DC, and work at their local offices. Lawmakers are also at home in August, around holidays, and at the beginning and/or end of each week. The House and Senate do not follow the same calendar.

  • Schedule your meetings 3-4 weeks in advance. Contact the lawmaker's local office, which can be found on their website at United States House of Representatives or United States Senate.
  • Ask for the contact information of the person who schedules in-district meetings for the member of Congress. You will need to submit your meeting request in writing, even if you speak to someone in the lawmaker's office.
  • Review a sample appointment request email. In the message, explain the purpose of your visit, identify participants in the meeting, and suggest possible meeting dates.
  • Be flexible! The more flexible you are about the date and time, the more likely it is that your meeting can be included on the lawmaker's schedule. If you don't hear back from a member of your lawmaker's staff, be polite but persistent. Sometimes requests get lost, so don't be afraid to follow up by sending an email or calling the office.
  • Let ASHA know when you have appointments scheduled by emailing federal@asha.org. ASHA staff can provide updates on current legislative issues or answer any questions. 
  • Confirm your appointment with the lawmaker's office 1-2 weeks prior to the meeting. Lawmakers' schedules change quickly, so confirming the details of the meeting is always a good idea.

 Prepare for Your Visit

  • Learn about your lawmaker's background (e.g., political party, congressional committees they serve on, hometown, education, profession). This information can provide insights into the lawmaker's view of the world. Most of this information can be found through our Take Action site or on the individual's congressional website at United States House of Representatives or United States Senate.
  • Request materials that you can share with your lawmakers by emailing ASHA's Federal Affairs Team at federal@asha.org or messaging us on ASHA Advocacy’s Facebook. These materials include an overview of ASHA's policy priorities as well as information about the professions specific to your state.
  • Familiarize yourself with the issue(s) you plan to discuss and be prepared to share how it affects the professions and those you serve. Know all sides of the argument.
  • If your colleagues are joining you at the meeting, be sure to do the following:
    • Let them know all the details of the day, time, and location.
    • Discuss the issue(s) you’ll be presenting at the meeting ahead of time and decide who will take the lead. This is particularly important if there are any first-time advocates participating. ASHA's Federal Affairs Team is available to participate in a pre-meeting conference call to discuss tips for the meeting or to go over the issue(s).
    • Determine who will compile, print, and carry the materials to be given to the lawmaker. If possible, bring a copy for the lawmaker and a copy for their aide.

The Day of the Meeting

Meeting Tips

  • Have the materials for your lawmaker in hand as you depart for your visits. You may also bring business cards and any other relevant materials to leave with lawmakers.
  • Be punctual and patient. Lawmakers have very busy schedules; a late arrival may mean that you miss your appointment. It’s common for a lawmaker to be late, or to have a meeting interrupted, due to the member’s crowded schedule.
  • Plan for a 15-minute meeting, although it may last 30 minutes.
  • Be flexible if your time is cut short; offer to accompany your lawmaker to their next appointment so you can talk further.

Present Your Issues and Then Ask for Something to Be Done!

  • Start the meeting by introducing all the participants. Share the town where you reside, where you work, and what you do. Do not assume that the lawmaker/staff know what audiologists or SLPs do each day. Use this opportunity to educate them.
  • Share the materials you have including ASHA’s Issue Briefs and the Public Policy Agenda. Concentrate on one or two issues in the meeting. Lawmakers will want to hear personal stories that highlight how the issue affects their constituents. (e.g., how full federal funding of IDEA is necessary to continue to provide students with proper education in their state). Use part of your allotted time to hear the lawmaker’s thoughts on the subject or to answer any of their questions.
  • Be careful not to antagonize or lecture the lawmaker; conversely, don't say only what you think the lawmaker wants to hear. Be straightforward, but courteous, in expressing your views and be receptive to the lawmaker's questions and comments. If the lawmaker doesn't volunteer their position on the issue, ask!
  • Do not guess if they ask a question that you can't answer. Instead, say that you will do some research and give the lawmaker an answer as soon as possible. ASHA will be happy to work with you on a response to the lawmaker; email us at federal@asha.org 
  • Never discuss or make a campaign contribution when meeting with a lawmaker about a legislative issue. In fact, don't mention political contributions at all.
  • Be sure to politely ask your lawmaker to do something! Lawmakers meet many constituents, but they won't know how to help unless you clearly state what you want them to do. For example, you might say, "Please protect funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)." Make your "ask" clear and concise. If your representative or senator has already cosponsored the legislation, thank them for their support.
  • If the opportunity presents itself, take a picture of the group with the lawmaker. Please share these on social media or email them to ASHA at federal@asha.org. Sharing photos on social media helps to encourage other ASHA members and students to schedule meetings of their own!
  • Finally, offer to be a resource to your lawmaker on any issues that may arise in the future. Make sure they have your business card! Also, please make sure to take the business card of a staff member if staff is present.

A Note About Staff

Lawmakers will often be unavailable to take a meeting personally. They may have a committee hearing to attend, a floor speech to deliver, a vote to cast, or a meeting to attend that’s away from their office. If you end up meeting with a member of the lawmaker’s staff, do not be disappointed or discouraged! Staff members are generally very knowledgeable about the topics you are planning to discuss. They also often have influence over the lawmaker’s view of an issue. Therefore, meetings with staff are often as productive, if not more productive, than a meeting with the lawmaker. 

After Your Visit

  • Send a thank-you letter and re-emphasize key points you discussed during the meeting. Be sure to provide any additional information you may have promised.
  • Let ASHA know how the meeting went by emailing federal@asha.org. This information is vital to ASHA when planning future lobbying efforts and will ensure that ASHA's message is consistent.
  • Thank your colleagues who participated in the meeting. Share any pictures, and ask for feedback on how to improve future meetings and how to continue to build the relationship with the lawmaker.

Continue to Be an Advocate for the Professions

If you developed a rapport with your lawmaker, consider building a relationship by:

  • offering to host a site visit by your lawmaker to your place of work so they can learn more about the professions of audiology and speech-language pathology. This first-hand experience is impactful when explaining your role and its impact on the community.
  • attending the lawmaker's local fundraisers or events. Contact your legislator's office and ask to be added to their email list or follow them on social media to stay informed of activities like constituent coffees, town hall meetings, and other opportunities to talk with your legislator and staff. If you attend an event, follow up with a note to their office letting them know you were there and are available to explain the community's perspective.
  • continuing to contact your lawmaker through ASHA's Take Action site on key ASHA priorities;
  • visiting your lawmakers in their Capitol Hill offices when you are in Washington, DC—either for an ASHA meeting or at any other time;
  • supporting ASHA-PAC, ASHA's federal political action committee, which provides financial support to candidates for the U.S. House and Senate who recognize the importance of audiology and speech-language pathology services and who demonstrate concern for the rights of all citizens to receive these services. 

If you have any concerns or questions, contact ASHA at federal@asha.org.

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