Student Advocacy Day: Tips for Visiting a State Legislator

Before the Visit

  • Review background information on your state legislator including personal facts such as the name of their hometown and political information such as their party designation or what legislative committees they serve on.
  • Be sure you are familiar with the issue briefs and talking points provided by your state association; know the pros and cons.
  • Prepare a personal story that portrays your first-hand knowledge of the problem you are facing and how the proposed solution will resolve it. Anecdotes involving your clients are helpful.
  • Avoid jargon.
  • Practice roleplaying a visit.

During the Visit

  • Be prompt or even a bit early for your visit.
  • If participating in a group visit, be sure to pick a lead spokesperson and an order for speaking.
  • Be brief, concise, informative, and polite. State the purpose of the visit and lead with your personal story. If a question arises that you cannot answer, let the legislator know that you will check into it and send him/her an answer as soon as possible.
  • Do not end the meeting without making a specific request for action by the legislator.
  • Be sure to leave behind your prepared summary fact sheet and your contact information for the legislator's future use.

After the Visit

  • Follow-up with a thank you note, a summary of your key points, and a reminder or update on your request for action are always in order.
  • This should be just the beginning of building a relationship with your legislator: visit your legislator in his/her home district whenever possible, support their fundraisers, help with their political campaign and invite them for a professional site visit whenever possible and appropriate; advocacy has a beginning but should have no end. 

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