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Making Effective Phone Calls to Elected Officials

If you want to make effective telephone calls to elected officials and their staff, follow these simple guidelines.

Operator Please
Creative Commons License photo credit: bulliver

First, never give a person who answers the phone the opportunity to say no to you. Before you even place the call to a legislative office, ensure you know which staff person currently is responsible for your particular issue and then make a point to get to know them.

Always make sure you connect to the right person. You can waste precious time and resources by playing phone-tag and trying to connect with the correct person. Make sure you have the right person on the line the first time.

Clearly establish your connection to the official’s constituency of the member.

Make a specific request. For example, be sure to mention what legislation or issue you are referring to and what your specific request is. For example, you might mention that you want to schedule a meeting to discuss a new bill that is up for consideration.

Be concise. Remember that elected officials and their staff are under considerable time constraints.

If you must leave a voice mail, immediately get to the point. Staff typically do not have time to listen to drawn out messages that ramble and take forever to reach the actual point of the phone call. Slowly and clearly give your name and telephone number at the beginning of the message. Even if you are a frequent caller, always leave your name and telephone number. If your message is controversial, avoid leaving it on voice mail and instead save it for an in-person meeting or live phone call.

Learning to communicate effectively on the telephone is one of the most important things you can do to advance your cause or issue. To find out more about improving communication skills, consider these Capitol Learning Audio Courses, Effectively Using Persuasion in Your Oral Presentations: A Trial Lawyer’s Perspective, and Business Etiquette: Keys to Professional Success.

Reference: Lobbying and Advocacy, by Deanna Gelak, Section 8.24 Effective Phone Calls

For more information about effective advocacy in Washington, see these resources from TheCapitol.Net

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