January 2012 U.S. Poverty Laser Talk

At the start of the year, RESULTS groups work hard requesting face-to-face lobby visits. The House will return to Washington on January 17, while the Senate will not come back until January 23.  In addition, some members of Congress will be holding town hall meetings. Contact your representative’s and senators’ local office or their websites to see if they have any public events scheduled (see our Elected Officials page for contact and website info). Even if you cannot get a face-to-face meeting for the current recess, ask for a time to meet the next time your representative or senator is home and be sure to follow up with all your requests. We all know how challenging it can be at times to get meetings when members of Congress are home so it is always important to get in your requests early and often.

TAKE ACTION: Request a face-to-face meeting with your representatives and senators. See our 2012 Campaigns Summary for details on our 2012 priorities. Get in early to meet with members of Congress to push them early on these important issues. If you cannot get a meeting now, ask for a time to meet the next time your representative or senator is home. Use our online e-mail to contact their offices about setting up a meeting. Once you get a meeting scheduled, please contact the RESULTS Domestic staff to help you prepare. We are here to help.

Here is a sample meeting request conversation from our January 2012 Domestic National Conference Call.

Jos: Good morning, Congresswoman Hochul’s office. How may I help you?

Bruce: May I speak with the scheduler, please?

Jos: Certainly, please hold. Good morning this is Jos.

Bruce: Hello, Jos. My name is Bruce Davidson and I am constituent of Congresswoman Hochul and also a RESULTS volunteer. I am calling to set up a meeting the between Congresswoman and our local RESULTS volunteers here in Buffalo. Are you familiar with RESULTS?

Jos: No, I am not.

Bruce: Well, RESULTS is a grassroots advocacy organization working to end poverty. Our local volunteer group meets each month here in Buffalo to educate ourselves and take action on practical solutions to poverty.

Jos: OK, Mr. Davidson. What issues do you want to discuss with the Congresswoman?

Bruce: We would like to talk to her about creating economic opportunity for low-income Americans. In particular, protecting low-income tax credits like the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, which are very successful at lifting people out of poverty. We’d also like to talk to her about helping low-income Americans build the savings and assets through an idea called the Financial Security Credit, which helps people start savings accounts on their tax returns.

Jos: That’s a lot to discuss. Please know that these meetings typically only last about 15 minutes.

Bruce: That’s good to know. We want to be sensitive to her schedule and will plan accordingly.

Jos: How many of you will be attending the meeting?

Bruce: There will be at least four of us.

Jos: Do you have a date and time in mind? I will let you know that I cannot get anything scheduled in January; her schedule is booked solid this month.

Bruce: Can we possibly get on her schedule during the President’s Day recess in February? We know she is busy so we can be fairly flexible. Day or evening during the week works best but we can work with her schedule. Also, if it would be better to meet with her before or after an event already on her schedule, we are happy to do that too.

Jos: The February recess might work. We are planning an event that week and she could possibly meet with you beforehand; we are still confirming the details. I should know more today. Is there a number where I can call you back to confirm?

Bruce: Sure, you can reach me at 555-2468. When should I expect your call?

Scheduler: You should hear back by tomorrow afternoon.

Bruce: That’s great, Jos. Thank you for your help. I look forward to hearing back from you and we look forward to meeting with Congresswoman Hochul next month.

Jos: Thank you, Mr. Davidson.

What Is a Laser Talk?

A laser talk serves as a useful starting point for your advocacy work, whether as a talking points during a town hall meeting or as a primer for face-to-face meetings with candidates and elected officials. Follow up with more information and evidence supporting your points. And of course, adapt a laser talk to reflect your own experiences and why you care about the issue! For more on how to create your own laser talk, see the RESULTS Activist Toolkit: Create and Deliver Your EPIC Laser Talk