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How to Train Students to Meet with Legislators

 


Awareness

Do

  1. Understand statistics about adult education
  2. Know ONE really well
  3. Ensure staff are ready to handle stats with handouts

Don't

  1. Rely on stats to convince decision-makers
  2. Use them at all if you aren’t comfortable with them. Faulty stat reporting doesn’t help anything.

Stories

Do

  1. Personalize stories to build relationships
  2. Find diversity of voices – adult ed represents a very diverse demographic. “I represent hundreds of students just like me” “I’m just one of thousands of ABE stories

Don't

  1. Include overly sensitive or emotional details
  2. Make mistakes with numbers (be accurate)
  3. Rely on the same student representatives repeatedly – give various students a chance to represent

Public Speaking

Do

  1. Practice, Practice, Practice
  2. Provide opportunities to observe
  3. Be honest and intentional with feedback

Don't

  1. Let a student speak in public without practice
  2. Assume that a quiet leader can’t represent
  3. Have low expectations (give honest critique)

Facilitation

Do

  1. Be explicit & firm about elements of an effective meeting
  2. Stay focused on relationship building
  3. Ask questions

Don't

  1. Ignore the importance of researching the background of a person in power
  2. Push too hard, or “pin” the person in power
  3. Expect clear answers
  4. Don’t ask about money – make visits about relationship building
 

In General

Do

  1. Take the time to practice and prepare
  2. Focus on leadership group dynamics and rapport building
  3. Practice role plays with challenging facilitation and public speaking venues
  4. Try a fishbowl activity with a friendly “PiP” (Person in Power) who will give honest feedback
  5. Keep folks engaged with some individual follow through – invite them to something
  6. like a graduation or specific class activity
  7. Give them something to remember you by – a digital story or printed picture of you and your story

Don't

  1. Memorize or lose spontaneity or authenticity
  2. Give them swag from your program. Pens with your program name makes legislators think you have extra money to spare
  3. Let them take over the meeting