Laser Talk: Schedule Your Face-to-Face Meeting

January 11, 2013

The January 2013 laser talk focuses on contacting and following up with a congressional scheduler with a request to meet face-to-face with your representative or senators. Face-to-face meetings are vital component of any advocacy success. With Congress debating the fate of many anti-poverty programs in deficit-reduction talks over the next few months, these meetings will be critical in protecting important services for low-income individuals and families. You can learn more about requesting a meeting in the January 2013 RESULTS U.S. Poverty Action. Once you do get a meeting scheduled, please let Meredith or Receptionist know so they can help you and your group prepare. Good luck with your calls!

Receptionist: Office of Representative Neal, this is Jos.  How may I help you?

Volunteer: Hi Jos, my name is Jenny Martin. I am a constituent of Congressman Neal from Leverett and I would like to schedule a face-to-face meeting with the congressman.  Can you direct me to the scheduler so that I may set this up?

Receptionist:  Have you submitted a request in writing yet?

Volunteer: No, I haven’t.

Receptionist:  We ask that all meeting requests be made in writing first?

Volunteer: OK. I understand that. May I e-mail the request?

Receptionist: Sure. Just send it to [email protected]. Be sure to include when you’re available to meet, who will be there, and what topics you want to discuss.

Volunteer: Absolutely. Once I’ve submitted this, do I follow up with John Smith on the status?

Receptionist: Yes.

Volunteer: Great. Thank you, Jos. I’ll send John an e-mail right now. Have a good day.

Receptionist: You’re welcome, Jenny. And thank you for calling Congressman Neal’s office.

More and more offices are asking for meeting requests in writing, so don’t be surprised if this is the initial response you get. Once you’ve submitted your written request, follow up by calling the scheduler directly to confirm that they got it and check on the status. Here’s what one of those conversations might sound like.

Ring ring…

Scheduler: Good morning, this is John Smith. How may I help you?

Volunteer: Hi Mr. Smith, my name is Jenny Martin. I’m a constituent of Congressman Neal from Leverett. I submitted a request earlier this week to meet face-to-face with the Congressman. I’m calling to confirm that you got it and to check on its status.

Scheduler: Please call me, John. When did you submit it and what issues are you looking to discuss?

Volunteer: I submitted on Monday, the 14th. We’d like to talk to him about protecting critical programs such as SNAP, Head Start, child care, and low-income tax credits in deficit reduction talks. Congressman Neal has been a steadfast supporter of low-income, working families. We want to thank him and explore ways we can work with him and his office to protect these important services going forward.

Scheduler: And you want to meet with him back in our home district, right?

Volunteer: Yes.

Scheduler: Are you part of a certain group?

Volunteer: Yes, we’re volunteers with RESULTS, which works to end poverty here in the U.S. and around the world.

Scheduler: It sounds like you have a variety of issues you would like to address. Representative Neal is pretty busy just now with the new session and getting set up with our new district and staff.  I don’t see any time available in the foreseeable future. However, I can schedule a meeting with our regional director, Mary Jones. She can relay your thoughts and concerns to the congressman.

Volunteer: Thank you, John. We’d be happy to meet with Mary as well. However, we really would like some time with the congressman himself. I was hoping he’d have some time during the February Recess.  We know his time is limited but it’s important to us that we meet with him face-to-face to discuss these issues. Will Representative Neal be spending time in Western MA during the recess?

Scheduler: Yes he will but his schedule is completely booked. There’s nothing he has available that week.

Volunteer: What about the week of March 25? I believe the House is on recess that week.

Scheduler: Yes, he’ll be in Springfield on March 28.

Volunteer: Is there any way you could fit us in while he’s out here. We’re happy to go where he is.

Scheduler: He has some time at 3pm that afternoon. He could meet for about 30 minutes that day in his Springfield office. Would that work?

Volunteer. You bet! Thank you so much, John. We’ll be there.

Scheduler: Good. How many people will be at the meeting?

Volunteer: There should be at least 6 of us.

Scheduler: OK, I have you in his schedule. May I get a contact number from you in case I need in touch with about any schedule changes?

Volunteer: Certainly. It’s 555-221-3465. That’s my cell so you can call it day or evening. Let me ask one more thing, John. Is Congressman Neal doing any town halls during the February recess? We excited to meet with him in March but if he is doing any public meetings before then, we’d like to attend them as well.

Scheduler: Yes he is. He is doing a town hall in Holyoke on February 19 and one in Westfield on February 20.

Volunteer: Can you e-mail me the times and locations of those events?

Scheduler: Sure. I’ve your e-mail right here and I’ll send them to you.

Volunteer: Thank you, John. I really appreciate your assistance and flexibility in scheduling our meeting. We look forward to meeting with Congressman Neal on March 28 at 3pm at his Springfield office.

Scheduler: Have a good day, Jenny

What Is a Laser Talk?

A laser talk serves as a useful starting point for your advocacy work, whether as a talking points during a town hall meeting or as a primer for face-to-face meetings with candidates and elected officials. Follow up with more information and evidence supporting your points. And of course, adapt a laser talk to reflect your own experiences and why you care about the issue! For more on how to create your own laser talk, see the RESULTS Activist Toolkit: Create and Deliver Your EPIC Laser Talk and see our Economic Opportunity for All campaign pages for more background on these issues.

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