How to Visit a Member of Congress
- Members of Congress want to hear from their constituents and won't pay much attention to someone else's voters.
Schedule the Meeting
- Phone the district or D.C. offices to find out the scheduler’s name and any special instructions for scheduling a meeting.
If they ask for a written request, fill out and print our sample request letter.
- Follow up with a call.
If you don’t hear back in a few days, call and request a meeting.
Sample script: “Hello, my name is Dr. Millie A. Mole, and I am a constituent of Senator X. I understand that Congress is in recess the week of ___, and would like to schedule a meeting with the Senator at his/her ____ district office during that week. I plan to discuss federal funding for scientific research & innovation.”
- Let us know
Tell us know your name and contact information, the office you are visiting, and the date and time of your meeting.
Prepare for the Meeting
- Find 2 or 3 local section members to attend with you. At least one person must be a constituent.
- Watch our video and learn how to conduct a successful meeting.
Vimeo ID: 230160971
- Research your elected official. Our action center has information about your policymaker’s bio, committees, and staff.
- Plan how you'll describe your research and the issues you want to discuss.
- Make sure to avoid unnecessary jargon and don't "talk down" to legislators and their staff. These individuals are smart and well informed, but they usually won't have science backgrounds.
- If you're going as a team, plan beforehand who will take the lead and how you'll each effectively share your main points.
Attend the Meeting
- Be on time, and be flexible. The meeting can be held anywhere: hallway, cafeteria, elevator, outer office, member’s inner sanctum.
- Recognize that you'll likely be talking to a staff member—but be ready if the legislator comes in.
- Be succinct.
- You will have 15 quality minutes: limit your message and stay on point.
- Describe the importance of the issue to your work, employer, or state with anecdotes or personal narratives.
- Let the office staff ask questions.
- Conclude and reiterate top points, making sure to capture follow-ups or commitments.
After the Meeting
- Thank them verbally for meeting with you.
- Follow up by writing a thank you note to your legislator and the staff person who spoke with you. This is especially important if your goal is to establish a relationship.
- Touch base with office contacts every three months to help build a relationship.