Practicing Effective Lobbying

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Description
Learn the most important considerations in preparing for our lobby meetings, including a live role-play demonstration of what these meetings really look and sound like.

This training is also part of the Core Volunteer Training series.
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/topics/working-with-congress
Related Trainings
Lobby Meeting Practice Scenario is part of two series: Working With Congress and Core Volunteer Training.
TOC and Guide Section
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CCL’s Meeting Methodology

Our methodology follows the simple framework of:

  • Finding common ground either through:
    • shared values,
    • a social connection, or
    • places we care for
  • Our one rule: Treat everyone, even those who disagree with us, with respect, appreciation and gratitude.
  • Appealing to the BEST in others.
  • Being for something, not against others or their ideas.
Lobby Meeting Roles

Depending on the size of the lobby team, team members may fill multiple roles. Everyone is encouraged to participate in the discussion, but give deference to the constituents wherever possible.

  1. Meeting Leader

    The central role for each of our meetings with members of Congress is the Leader – the lobby team member who empowers everyone to share and participate, especially the constituents, so that we build our capacity for this work.

    If the leader is not the Liaison, the leader is responsible for briefing the Liaison after the meeting.

    The Meeting Leader:

    • Manages the meeting; Leaders do not dominate the meeting. A useful analogy is that of a conductor.
    • Assigns roles (see below) to the other team members.
    • Empowers everyone to share and participate, especially the constituents.
    • May choose to be in charge of handling the transitions between different parts of a meeting.
    • Keeps the conversation on track and wraps things up on time.
    • Helps the team settle on an appropriate supporting ask for the meeting.
  2. Appreciator

    The lobby team member who shows appreciation for something the member of Congress has recently accomplished. If possible, this should be a constituent.

  3. Time Monitor

    Keeps meeting on time. Monitors percent of time CCL and MOC talk with target of 50/50. Tallies number of questions our team asked (for the meeting minutes), signals when there are just a few minutes remaining.

  4. Notetaker

    The lobby team member who takes notes. If possible, the note taker should be an experienced volunteer. This person should be able to follow the thread of the conversation, specifically capturing what’s said by the member of Congress or staffer. And, if possible, the same day as the meeting, types those notes into the online form.

  5. Discussion

    All lobby team members are encouraged to participate in the discussion, especially the constituents.

  6. Asker

    The lobby team member who presents CCL’s purpose and ask. If possible, this should be a constituent who has a strong grasp of our policy and is prepared to respond to a “no.” The asker leaves the 1-page primary ask behind.

  7. Deliverer

    The team member who is responsible for bringing constituent letters, postcards, or endorsements letters from community leaders to the meeting.

  8. Follow-up

    This lobby team member sends follow-up meeting materials and a thank you card. If the person doing the follow-up is not the Liaison, he/she should coordinate on the follow-up items with the Liaison soon after the meeting.

  9. Picture taker

    The team member designated to take a photo (with permission) and share online after.

  10. Observer

    The team member designated to put aside any agenda for outcomes and just listen for underlying needs. If they hear something that is missing or sounds like a place to get more understanding, they ask about it, finding that the opportunity to clarify needs brings further understanding really helps the meeting.

Parts of a lobby meeting

The meeting outline is pretty simple: there’s a beginning, a middle and an end.

  • At the beginning of the meeting you want to thank them for their time, find out how much time they have, introduce yourselves, show appreciation, deliver constituent communications, state our purpose and present our ask.
  • The middle is the heart of the meeting. This includes the discussion, active listening, hearing their concerns, listening for values, finding common ground, overcoming obstacles, and executing your strategy to move them forward.
  • At the end of the meeting, you want to see if they are willing to commit to our ask. If not, find out why. If appropriate, present the supporting ask. Also ask “with whom do they work with across the aisle?” And “what could we be doing more of in the district to make it easier for them to support our legislation?” question. Finally, confirm the follow-up items for the office.
Delivering the Primary and Supporting Ask

When delivering the primary ask - Swing for the fences. Don’t negotiate with yourself, negotiate with them.

  • Don’t deliver the supporting ask until the primary ask has been clearly rejected, and, if possible, you know exactly why it has been rejected.
  • If you can determine exactly why they rejected your ask, then you can go to work on addressing that.
  • Have a supporting ask ready to go.
The Importance of Practice

The goal of being well practiced isn’t to sound rehearsed but rather to allow you to speak conversationally and confidently. To be able to put things in your own words.

Practicing:

  • Builds our reputation. CCL is known for having well-prepared citizen lobbyist.
  • Demonstrates that you respect the time of the person you are meeting with.
  • Develops your trust in your team. You’ll feel more comfortable when you realize the strength of your team.
  • Impresses others.
  • Allows you to be present and adaptive. If you’ve practiced, then you will feel more comfortable with what’s coming so you can be present and listen more attentively.

We practice ahead of time, but you never know what scenarios will play out. That’s why we always need to be focused on what is being said – in the moment – and respond to what we’re hearing, not what we expect or think we heard. Remaining flexible and practicing good listening is key.

Length
Press play to start the video (44m 59s)
https://vimeo.com/album/5497090
Video Outline
To skip ahead to a specific section go to the time indicated in parenthesis.

Intro and Agenda
(From beginning)

Meeting Roles Review
(3:06)

Researching Your Member
(7:54)

Planning Your Meeting
(14:49)

Meeting Demonstration: Beginning
(21:39)

Meeting Demonstration: Middle
(28:15)

Meeting Demonstration: End
(35:36)

Final Reflections
(40:57)

Instructor(s)

Amy Bennett 

Downloads

Download PowerPoint or Google Slides presentation.

Download the video.
Audio length
Press play to start the audio (44:59)
Audio embed code
Audio Outline
To skip ahead to a specific section go to the time indicated in parenthesis.

Intro and Agenda
(From beginning)

Meeting Roles Review
(3:06)

Researching Your Member
(7:54)

Planning Your Meeting
(14:49)

Meeting Demonstration: Beginning
(21:39)

Meeting Demonstration: Middle
(28:15)

Meeting Demonstration: End
(35:36)

Final Reflections
(40:57)

Instructor(s)

Amy Bennett 

Discussion Topic
To Print
Instructions for printing this page on Community.
Category
Training
Topics
Lobbying Congress
Format
Audio / Video, Presentation
File Type
Google Slides, PowerPoint (.pptx)
Training Resources
The resources above are specific to this training, see all resources associated with Working with Congress series.