Effective Communications with Congress
Meeting with a Member of Congress, or congressional staff, is a very effective way to convey a message about an issue such as the value of the National Science Foundation and USDA research programs to the nation.
- Dress appropriately. Follow the DC dress code. Business attire is the norm on Capitol Hill.
- Be on time and be prepared to wait. Changes in the legislative calendar and office activity often necessitate Members and their staff to deal with other things.
- Be prepared and succinct. Most meetings will last only about 10 minutes so plan on getting to the point quickly.
- Use a short anecdote or offer facts that illustrate the value of NSF/USDA research to the state or district. (e.g. the state receives X NSF $ each year; examples of new knowledge brought about by this investment).
- Limit the presentation. If coming as a group, select a spokesperson (should always be a constituent) and a common strategy to come across as a cohesive team. Not everyone participating in the meeting needs to speak to get the talking points across, but complementary examples across the disciplines are valuable.
- Don't monopolize the conversation and don't patronize or complain to the Member or staff. Remember you are part of a team of scientists with the common goal of encouraging support for science research and education.
- Follow-up the meeting with a thank-you letter to the Member and staffer and offer to be a source of information in the future.