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Interactive Training Congressional Visit Role Play

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Interactive Training Congressional Visit Role Play

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  1. Interactive Training Congressional Visit Role Play


  3. If you are going as a group, choose one person to serve as the leader. This person will make introductory remarks in the visit and ask the others in the group to introduce themselves. • Decide on the main points you want to make. Unless your group is very large, make sure that everyone has something to say. • Determine if there are actions for which you can thank your staff member or member of Congress. • E.G. – Thank you for sponsoring the Reauthorization of the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act

  4. Arriving at your Member’s Office

  5. Be on time and patient – it is not uncommon for members of Congress (or their staff) to be late because of unexpected floor action in Congress or late meetings. Staff play an important role in advising their members of Congress and making policy recommendations. If you are delayed from a prior meeting give the next office a call to let them know you are running behind. Tell the receptionist who you are and with whom you’re meeting. If you were unable to secure an appointment, tell the receptionist you are a constituent (or your AFSP Chapter covers their district) and would like to meet with the aide who handles suicide prevention and mental health issues.

  6. The group leader should ask how long they should expect the meeting to last and ask other people in your group to introduce themselves. Thank the staffer/member of Congress for a positive action he or she has taken that relates to suicide prevention and mental health. For example “I want to thank Senator Donnelly for introducing the Jacob Sexton Military Suicide Prevention Act or “I want to thank Representative Tonko for cosponsoring the Mental Health First Aid Act.” There may not be something to thank all members for and that is OK. Thank them for taking the time to meet with you.

  7. If time permits, share your personal stories. Make your points succinctly! Aim for a balanced conversation. Ask questions that will encourage discussion of the issue. This should be a conversation and dialogue on both sides. Be sure Congressional staff or your member hears your point of view.

  8. Remember that you’re not expected to be an expert. If you don’t know the answer to a question, offer to get back to your member of Congress. Contact AFSP Public Policy Staff with the unanswered question/concern, and we can help you follow up. Close the deal! Ask the staffer/member of Congress for a specific commitment: Please support increased funding for suicide prevention research or cosponsor the SPRINT Act.

  9. Helpful Lobbying Do’s and Don’ts

  10. Do • Be courteous, affirming, and appreciative. • Be clear and concise, and focus on the decision you want your member of Congress to make. • Be a good listener. • State your point of view and back it up with sound reasons. • Ask questions. • Politely bring the conversation back to the topic you want to speak about if a member of Congress, aide, or meeting participant gets off track. • Close the deal.

  11. Do Not • Be argumentative or combative. Be assertive, not aggressive. • Dominate the conversation. Make sure you have the member of Congress or his/her staff’s thoughts, too. • Bring up other issues that are off the topic. They are likely covered by a different aide, and you do not want dilute your message by trying to discuss too many issues. • Become disillusioned if your member or staffer does not seem responsive to your concerns or AFSP issues. EDUCATE! Remember, we are people of hope!

  12. Interactive Training Congressional Visit Role Play