Have you ever wanted to talk with an official about something that matters to you? Let public officials and decision makers know what you think about an issue, policy or decision that is important to you!
Find out WHAT and WHO and HOW
- Is one level of government responsible for the issue you want to discuss or learn about?
- Who is the best person to contact - for example, who represents your neighborhood or town?
- How can you contact that person - email? phone? social media?
Ways to talk to officials
- Sending an email or talking to them on the phone
- Connecting on Facebook or Twitter
- Meeting with your public officials
- Going to a public hearing
- Inviting public officials and decision makers to your school or organization
Things to keep in mind
- Remember that you provide a valuable perspective that officials need to hear
- Listen – to everyone in the room, especially people you disagree with
- Be respectful and polite
- Build relationships – don’t only communicate to complain
- Be open-minded
- Think critically – connect what you hear with what you know
- Think like a leader – how does this issue impact others? The future? What can I do to make things better for the most people?
- Look for facts and figures
- Identify the intent – even if you don’t like a policy, can you see where the official was going with the idea?
Tips for communicating
- Mention that you are a student
- Ask questions and/or state your opinion
- Get your facts straight
- Make your comments short and to the point…focus on what’s important
- Offer suggestions and solutions
- Ask for specific action
- Relate to your personal experience
- Use your own words
- Don’t waste time on the obvious
- Ask if you can help be a part of the solution
- If you are speaking, be confident and clear…and smile
- If you are writing, spell and punctuate correctly
- Ways to talk with officials, list of government services and local government contacts (will change after November 2011 election)
- Federal officials
- State officials
- More about local government