How to Run a Virtual Legislative Day
If you’re looking for a way to connect with your legislators, try running a virtual legislative day. It’s an excellent method of communicating and connecting with legislators about an issue.
While legislative or lobby days would usually be held in person, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most groups have turned to virtual environments. Here’s how you can create your own virtual lobbying group and connect with your legislators.
What is a Legislative Day?
Legislative days are days when a legislature is in session. They start with a daily session and end with an adjournment, and most last longer than a day.
Groups of citizens also use these days to communicate with their lawmakers. If there’s a particular topic or bill that constituents want to discuss, they can schedule a meeting with their legislator on a legislative day.
Tips to Help You Run a Virtual Legislative Day
Legislative days are great opportunities to speak directly with your lawmakers and share your concerns about a topic. While the COVID-19 pandemic has made many things more complicated, running a legislative day has become relatively simple.
Not only is it much easier to set up an online meeting than an in-person one, but virtual meetings also allow constituents to participate in a legislative day no matter where they are.
Here’s a quick guide to setting up your own virtual legislative day.
Schedule Your Meeting
First, you have to schedule your meeting. To do so, you need to email or call the scheduler in your local congressional office. You can find your local scheduler by searching here.
Gather Your Group
Before you have your meeting, you want to gather your group and figure out all the logistical details. Practice what and when you’re going to speak, assign people different roles, and make sure that you won’t run out of time.
Once you have a solid plan for how your meeting will go, remind your team of the date and time of the meeting. Check in with them a day or so before the meeting to ensure they remember to be there. If you’re in a different time zone than your legislator, make sure to account for the time difference.
Prepare Your Technology
When scheduling your meeting, you should have figured out if the office will provide a conference line or if you need to set up your own. Regardless, make sure that you and your team know how to set up the relevant technology well before the meeting.
Check that everyone who is planning to attend has a good broadband connection, a decent camera, and a working microphone, especially if they are scheduled to speak. A major downside of virtual meetings is the possibility of technology failing, so you want to minimize the chances of that happening by ensuring everyone is set up and ready to go.
Ready Your Team
Right before your call, take attendance to make sure that everyone from your group is there. Try to get everyone there and ready to go at least 10 minutes before the call starts to account for any possible issues or delays. Remember, your legislator is likely on a tight schedule, and if you’re late, it will cut into your time, not theirs.
During the Call
You should have prepared how your call will go in advance, but here’s are a few steps to follow while you’re talking to your legislator.
First, have everyone introduce themselves. Don’t take too much time, but give your legislator names for the faces they see.
Next, present the issue you’re there to talk about. Keep it simple and straightforward. Stay polite while making sure that you assert your position.
Then, have a few members of your group share their stories. Try to keep them relatively short but poignant. You don’t want anyone to talk through the whole meeting, but you want the stories to leave an impact on your legislator.
Finally, thank your legislator for their time.
After the Call
Once the call is over, regroup with your team and discuss how it went. If you’re a regularly active political group, you can talk about how this experience will affect your future actions. If not, show your appreciation and gratitude for everyone that showed.
After a few days, don’t be afraid to send a follow-up email to your legislator. Remain polite but assertive, and remind them that you and your group are paying attention.
If you have a topic or question that you want to discuss with your legislator, a virtual legislative day is a great way to do that. Gather a group, schedule a meeting, and let your elected representatives know that you care.