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.

Meeting Guidelines

  1. Dress appropriately. Follow the DC dress code. Business attire is the norm on Capitol Hill.
  2. 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.
  3. Be prepared and succinct. Most meetings will last only about 10 minutes so plan on getting to the point quickly.
  4. 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).
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
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