Tips for Talking about Issues

Be Polite

The impression you make is as important as your message, when it comes to getting that message respected. Being polite and gracious will start you off on the right foot. Thank whomever you are speaking with for their time, consideration ,and any contributions they have made to the side of medical research (Did a representative vote in favor of funding NIH?).

Be Positive

Present your arguments in a positive light instead of attacking the opposition—attacking will only alienate potential allies. Furthermore, do not let yourself get angry or argumentative—that would make you look unprofessional or even desperate.

Be Factual

Be able to substantiate your arguments. It’s far better to spend the time double-checking your arguments for accuracy than to lose all credibility because facts were inaccurate.

Be Brief

Keep your points clear and to the point. Long, involved explanations may be technically more accurate but you will lose your audience in confusing details. Ask yourself “What do they really need know to understand the point?”

Have Depth and Breadth

Do not rely solely on statistics or solely on anecdotes. Statistics provide broad analysis but are dry and, when listed together, hard to remember. Anecdotes provide a personalization of information and are easier to remember, but are not enough to properly extrapolate to the general population. Mixing the two will provide a balance to drive home your point.

Follow-Through

Remember to send thank you notes and follow-up information. This is not only courteous; it ensures people keep your conversation in mind.

Related Items

Meeting with Your Legislators: A Checklist

Before meeting with Members of Congress or their staff, get some basic facts about them and their district to help you prepare. (Hint: Start by reading the Member’s biography on his/her website.)

Written Communication

Sending an email is an easy and convenient way to contact Members of Congress.

Placing a Phone Call

If you don’t have the time to set up a meeting, you can simply call the Member’s office to state your views.

Meeting in Person

Meeting Senators and Representatives either in Washington or back home in the district lets you state your views and start establishing a personal relationship.

Is This Kind of Communication Considered Lobbying?

As a citizen, you have the right to make your views known to your elected representatives: Just be sure to do so on your own time!

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