When you are involved in a legislative event, it can be helpful to understand a few key tips that can help things to go much more smoothly. First, introductions to policymakers should be brief. Lobbyists often make the mistake of speaking too long in introductions while attempting to do a suitable job. An effective introduction should provide essential information such as the district or state represented, committee assignments and one or two accomplishments which the representative is particularly proud of. You should also include anything specific regarding the issue that is being discussed.
photo credit: isafmedia
It is also important to confirm the logistics and time limits well in advance with the member’s staff. At the same time, confirm essential information such as the length of the speech and whether reporters will be present.
Whenever there is more than one congressional member participating in an event, there is the potential for the event to become complicated. This is why it is particularly important for such events to be carefully orchestrated ahead of time.
As a general rule of thumb, senators are typically recognized before House members and members of the House leadership are usually recognized before other members. With that said, members of Congress can be sensitive about their order of appearance, therefore it is best to allow them to work out the speaking order themselves if matters become complicated.
Always observe congressional ethics rules regarding gifts, sponsored activities and meals, and make sure you are current on those rules.
If you are going to use a congressional facility, be aware of the rules. For instance, some congressional hearing rooms prohibit taping signs to walls. Signage may be limited. Make a point to arrive early and have multiple staff contacts in case there are logistical problems.
Be prepared to fill time if the featured speaker should be delayed or needs to leave abruptly or even cancels before the event. Hopefully you will not need to fill much time, but if the need arises it is better to be prepared.
Finally, mind your words. Make sure you know who is in the room and assume the press is present even if you are not aware of it.
To learn more about advocacy on Capitol Hill, consider TheCapitol.Net’s 1-day workshop Strategies for Working with Congress.
Reference: Lobbying and Advocacy, by Deanna Gelak, Section 10.50 Tips for Coordinating Legislative Events.
For more information about advocacy in Washington, see
- Pocket Guide to Advocacy on Capitol Hill
- Persuading Congress, by Joseph Gibson
- Congressional Deskbook: The Practical and Comprehensive Guide to Congress, by Michael L. Koempel and Judy Schneider
- Live and custom training courses from TheCapitol.Net:
- Capitol Learning Audio Courses:
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