17. How to Have a Good Meeting

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To have a good meeting with an elected person, here are some good rules to follow.

Pick only one or two issues to discuss. You only have a little time with the person. Too many issues may confuse them. When they are confused, they are less likely to know what to do next. So they do nothing.

Make an appointment.
  • Give your name, address and phone number
  • Say what you want to talk about (topic)
  • Find a time you both can meet. Sometimes you may have to wait weeks to find a time that works for both of you.
Plan what to say.
  • Decide what stories you will share to explain the problem or issue.
  • Think about what questions the person may ask. Get the facts to answer questions or get help to find the facts and make a handout. It is also OK to say "I don't know" if you do not know the answer.
  • Think about what could go wrong in the meeting and what you can do about it. Getting angry if things go wrong does not help.
On the Meeting Day
  • Dress neat.
  • Be early or on time.
  • Treat others the same as you want to be treated--with respect.
  • Be honest. Do not make things up if you do not know.
  • Be confident. You know your experience better than anyone else.
  • Stick with your plan. Sometimes elected people want to talk about other issues that interest them. But that may not leave enough time for what you need to say.
What to say
  • Introduce yourself and thank the person for meeting with you.
  • Say what you want to talk about and why it is important to you.
  • Tell a story from your experience that shows what the problem is.
    • Start at the beginning and tell what happened in the order it happened. If you tell things out of order, it is confusing and your point may be lost.
    • Say how it affected your life and how it made you feel.
    • Show how this problem affects more than you. It is important to fix the problem for everyone, not just for you.
  • Say what change you think would help people, if you have an idea.
  • Answer questions.
  • Offer to help or work with government to make good changes. If you stay involved, you can help them find the best solution.
  • Ask what they will do to follow up and when you can expect to hear from them. This gives them enough time to take the next step. It also says you expect to stay involved because it is important to you.
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Good Ideas for Meetings

  • Have an ally go with you for support and to help answer questions.
  • Have a handout with important facts to leave with the person.
  • Try to get a meeting for a time of day when you are at your best.
  • Practise what you will say and what to do if things go wrong.
  • Send a thank you card or e-mail that reminds the person of their promises.
  • Follow-up if you do not hear back on time.
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