Tips for Talking to a Lawmaker

How Get the Most out of Your Contact with State Legislators

  • Know your legislator – Research basic background information on your legislator: hometown, duration in office, profession, and committees. Most have their own website.
  • Dress professionally – Business attire is appropriate.
  • Don’t be disappointed if you meet with a staffer – Staffers share information with their legislators. If you garner staff support, the legislator will likely give it stronger consideration.
  • Let them know if you live/work in their district – Legislators are more likely to take a constituent’s opinion into consideration. Even if you do not live in their district, if you work or have clients in their district, let them know. 
  • Don’t be nervous – Legislators meet with many different constituent groups.
  • Keep discussions brief and on point – Usually meetings with legislators are short, 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Have your talking points ready – Rehearse and know what you’re going to say so you can cover all the important topics in the brief window of time.
  • Don’t assume legislators know anything about interior design – There are a lot of varied issues that come across the desks of legislators.
  • Don’t use jargon – Use simple language to explain industry specific concepts.
  • Know your facts – Prior to meeting with a legislator, review all your facts. It’s important to be knowledgeable on the issues.
  • Make the issue personal – Legislators want to know why you care about the issue. Be sure to tell them how the legislation will impact you and your career but try not to be overly emotional. Be positive.
  • Know your opposition – Every bill has opposition. Knowing your opposition demonstrates your ability to see both sides.
  • Be sincere – If you don’t know an answer, let them know you don’t know now but are happy to send them more information after the meeting to help answer their questions.
  • Be a good listener – Actually listen to what the legislator has to say. Respond accordingly and acknowledge what was said.
  • Bring a leave-behind – Contact advocacy@iidane.org for informational literature.
  • Send a thank you note – After meeting with a legislator or a staffer, be sure to send a thank you note. It will also give you the opportunity to reiterate your key points.