Do's & Don'ts When Dealing with Legislators or Key Decision Makers


  • Be or bring a constituent(s).
  • Know your subject.
  • Think before speaking. Don’t try to fill awkward silences with chatter! Be strategic about every word, and bring in notes to keep yourself on track with the message.
  • Give the gist of your arguments as early in the conversation as possible - keep it short. This is your “elevator speech;” relay your message in three minutes or less.
  • Be clear, concise and, more importantly, honest.
  • Assume your listener knows nothing about court reporting and simplify complex issues. Try not to use industry lingo that may get lost in translation.
  • Describe personal impact. Personal stories are the most effective.
  • Anticipate questions and be ready with your responses.
  • Leave or send written material, following your meeting.
  • Dress appropriately if meeting with legislator.
  • Leave your business card.
  • Request commitment: “Will you support XYZ?” (Always!)
  • Follow up with a written communication of thank you.


  • Use form letters.
  • Confuse the issue by discussing multiple issues.
  • Guess or exaggerate the impact of your issue.
  • Be afraid to say "I don't know. I'll get back to you." This creates a great opportunity for follow-up, continuing your dialogue after your meeting.
  • Use words that are terms of art or acronyms.
  • Become confrontational.
  • Argue.
  • Threaten.
  • Use inappropriate language.
  • Lie.