LegiStorm's Tips for Town Halls
Before the Town Hall
- Do a little research on your member of Congress. Know their personal background and history. Pay special attention to that member's stance on the topic or issue you want to discuss. Research the district staff at LegiStorm.com to know who you might get a chance to meet.
- Organize your argument. Have a general idea of what you want to say during the town hall. Use stats, facts, and examples to beef up your argument.
- If possible, go in a group. There's power in numbers. It will be harder for a member of Congress to ignore a unified and vocal group of people. Make sure that every member of your group is prepared.
During the Town Hall
- Do show up early.
- Do be polite and respectful to your member of Congress and to fellow attendees.
- Do find and talk to staff members. At in-person town halls, they will always be there. Introduce yourself, talk to them, tell them your story.
- Do find and talk to the media covering the event. Broadcast your message.
- Do be aware of the town hall's format. Pay attention to how much time you are allotted to speak.
- Do be passionate about what you are discussing.
- Do tell a personal story to connect emotionally with the member of Congress.
- Do use specific numbers and facts. Opinions are only as strong as their factual underpinnings.
- Do bring written copies of your statement as well as business cards to leave with staff members.
- Do introduce yourself before asking your question.
- Don’t fail to show up if this is a scheduled one-on-one meeting. Provide prior notification if you are running late.
- Don’t interrupt the member of Congress, staff member, or audience member when they are speaking.
- Don’t be discouraged if the member of Congress disagrees with you.
- Don’t underestimate your importance. As an informed voter, you have the power to influence your member of Congress as well as others in your community.
- Don’t make your message confusing by trying to say too much at once. This is where preparation—knowing what you will say beforehand—helps immensely.
- Don’t expect to be heard if you are not a constituent. Members don’t want outsiders taking advantage of their town halls. If you are an outside organizer, get one of your local members to talk.
After the Town Hall
- Follow up. Send a thank-you note, e-mail or phone call to the member’s office. If you were able to connect with a staffer, follow-up with them specifically.
- Follow through on any promise you made to the member of Congress or staff.
- Be consistent and persistent. Keep showing up to town hall meetings and contacting the member's offices.