Initially, you may need to find out who you need to meet with, i.e. your local MP or relevant decision-maker; the issue you face will determine who this will be. Information about your local MP can be found on the British Parliament website.
A face-to-face meeting with a decision-maker can be one of the most effective means to support your advocacy efforts: There is really no substitute for meeting a decision-maker in person. When presented in a clear, compelling and consistent manner, your key messages can go a long way to building a good working relationship and achieving your ‘ask.’ But the real secret to success in advocacy is not giving up: Keep meeting and communicating with your decision-maker until you’ve achieved what you need.
The following are some tips for meeting with decision-makers:
- Arranging the meeting – by email or telephone to your MP’s constituency office. Introduce yourself and give them a brief summary of what you would like to talk about. Contact them well in advance of when you would like to meet and follow-up with a brief email. Be persistent and follow-up with further emails or telephone calls until you get a meeting
- Before the meeting – send any relevant materials well in advance of the meeting, and keep it brief! Consider going to these meeting with at least one other person. Advise who you will be bringing to the meeting, and send an agenda, if necessary. Research the people you will be meeting with and contact them just before the meeting to confirm. Be on time!
- During the first minute of the meeting – try to get down to business by telling the decision-maker who you are, who you represent (Action Kidney Cancer or kidney cancer patients), why you are there, what you need this decision-maker to do for you, and how supporting your issue will be mutually beneficial
- Your presentation – review the background of the issue and know your core facts. If doing a formal presentation, keep it brief (10-12 slides), build it around 3 key messages, and repeat these messages throughout. Conclude with one ‘ask’, along with solutions, leave enough time for discussion, and keep to point, i.e. don’t go off the subject.
- In the meeting – leave enough time for the decision-maker to speak, and don’t be afraid to ask questions or seek clarification. Establish clear follows-up with timelines and assign responsibilities.
- After the meeting – you want to keep your issue moving forward. Call, write or email to thank the decision-maker for meeting with you. Provide any further information when requested. Follow-up shortly after the meeting to track progress. Be persistent!
- Do not – threaten anyone, go to a meeting with a decision-maker without having information to back-up your ideas/issues/key messages, or make a technical presentation to a person with no background in the area.