Remember to follow up!
After a visit, send a brief letter of thanks, referring to the most significant points covered in the conversation. Be sure to include any materials or information you said you would send after the visit. If you believe that your legislator could be more supportive if he/she heard from more constituents, channel your energy into mobilizing them.
Telephone tips
   While the Florida Legislature is in session, you may want to or you may be asked to telephone your legislator to advocate a position on major legislation. Here are some tips for calling your legislator:
  • When the Legislature is in session, it is most effective to call the Capitol or Tallahassee office of your legislator. When they are not in session, legislators are available through the district office.
  • Ask to speak to the legislator. On many occasions, time does not permit legislators to receive or return telephone calls. Do not be offended. Be prepared to speak to his/her legislative assistant who is very knowledgeable. Assistants are usually courteous and interested in what you have to say.

Tips on visiting
   One of the best ways to communicate with your legislators is to visit them, either in their district office or in Tallahassee. This lets legislators know you are serious and watching what they are doing.
   Get an Appointment - Call the district office to see when the legislator will be in town and able to meet with you. Sometimes seeing the staff person is more profitable than meeting with the legislator.
   If you feel you are being put off, have several people call for an appointment. Hopefully someone will be successful and you can form a delegation. If you cannot see the legislator, ask to see his or her aide. Legislative aides have the ears of their bosses and can be very helpful.
   Put Together a Delegation - The purpose of a delegation is to convey to the legislator that there is a broad base of community support for your issue in their constituency.
   Two to four person delegations are fine. If you identify 12 people who are prepared to visit your legislator, arrange three separate visits of four people each, rather than one large visit.
   It is helpful to plan your delegation. Have a person who knows the statistics, etc. and someone who has a personal story of how the legislation affects them.
   Have a Plan - Plan your visit, who is going to say what and when. Be prepared to meet with an aide, in case the legislator had a last minute change. Again, know your opposition's argument, in case you are asked, and have a response for those arguments.


Meeting with your legislator

Red Bullet Introduce yourself, even at a second or third meeting. Thank him or her for taking the time to meet with you and for any previous support.
Red Bullet Get down to business quickly. Begin on a positive note and explain the issue that concerns you.
Red Bullet Present the facts and background information you have gathered, along with the bill number, title, and author, if known.
Red Bullet State your position, relating it to real people. Use personal stories or anecdotes.
Red Bullet State what you want the legislator or staff person to do. Your job is to persuade the legislator and a personal story will leave an image they will remember.
Red Bullet If asked something you are unable to answer, promise to get back with them (and make sure you do!)
Red Bullet Ask what you can do, whether it is to provide additional information, arrange a tour of a program, or contact others.
Red Bullet Have a short fact sheet summarizing your major points to leave with the legislator.
Red Bullet Above all, be punctual, courteous, friendly, and listen carefully.

Next Section > Resource Guide > Table of Contents