10 May Meeting an MP: OVID’s top tips!
Whether you’re a public affairs expert or a novice, meeting an MP can be a valuable tool to help secure change. Our top tips will help ensure that you make the most of your meeting.
Check in with the MP’s office beforehand
Particularly if the meeting was arranged well in advance, it’s worth checking in with the MP’s office team the day before, just to confirm they are still expecting you and that arrangements haven’t changed (plus any security details you need to be aware of!).
Say who you are and why you are there
MPs diaries are hectic, with a mix of constituency work, party political activity, debates in the chamber, committee meetings and much more. Their staff will brief them, but with so much going on, you should always start by reminding the MP who you are, and why you are talking to them. This can be just a top line.
Tell a story
Abstract ideas are hard to communicate. So, whether you’re a patient speaking about your experiences of a life changing diagnosis, a start-up looking to secure funding, or a major charity seeking changes to national policy, your engagement should be rooted in a personal story. How are specific people impacted by the problem you are raising? How does your product/service/policy goal change local people’s lives? Above all, why should the MP care?
Your story must be supported by evidence – facts, stats, case studies! It might even be something physical which demonstrates the problem. Evidence which can be referenced in parliament is particularly helpful.
Focus on the local angle
MPs are, ultimately, accountable to their constituents at the ballot box. So where possible keep your story and evidence local. For example, in a meeting about ambulance waiting times, you might use data from your local hospital trust, and talk about the experiences of a constituent who faced a long wait after falling down stairs and breaking a hip.
Have a clear ask
Once you’ve got the MP on side, you need to turn that support into action which helps deliver change. That means you should always have a clear ask of an MP. What that action is will depend on what your campaign looks like, but actions might include tabling a question in parliament or supporting an amendment to a piece of legislation, participating in a social media campaign or attending an event you are organising.
Make sure you have considered any costs which they might incur through taking the action. E.g. will they need to travel, do you need to provide them with lunch?
Be succinct and polite
MPs are busy, so try to be efficient. There’s a balance to be struck between being efficient and telling your story in a compelling way. This is not an exact science, but try to avoid getting bogged down in details; you can always send more details in the follow up. Being polite will also help keep the MP on side.
Bonus! Follow up afterwards
A meeting might feel great and lead to everyone supporting your campaign in principle, but it’s only a success if the agreed actions are delivered. A follow-up email, thanking the MP for the meeting, and restating agreed actions can help secure the relationship and ensure that actions are followed up. You can also include more detailed information, such as links to relevant reports or data you referenced.
Meeting an MP is a great way of getting your voice heard and bringing attention to your issue. By following the steps above, you will be able to secure a strong ally for your cause. If you have any questions, email [email protected]