Tips for an effective phone call to a decision maker

In the age of smartphones, iMessaging and Snapchat, it can feel like we use our phones to do just about everything but make phone calls. However, simply picking up the phone and making a call remains one of the quickest and most effective ways to get in touch with your local leaders. Particularly around key policy decision moments, phone calls from constituents to elected officials are the bread-and-butter of effective advocacy campaigns and changemaking. 

That’s why we’ve outlined the following tips to help make it an easy and rewarding experience.

  • Be prepared to provide your name and city, or university, of residence from the start. This establishes that you are one of their constituents.
  • Ask to speak with the aide who is most familiar with the issue of nuclear weapons. You may have to speak with someone else – or call back later – but your time will be more valuable if you talk to someone well-versed in the issue. You may ask, but it is unlikely you’ll speak directly to your representative.
  • Be confident. Phone calls to your representative are a vital part of the democratic process. Their office receives calls from people every day of the week – your opinion is welcome, and critical to building political support for a nuclear-free world.
  • Be passionate but courteous. Your perspective will be received much better if it is presented in a respectful and cordial tone – but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a passionate argument.
  • Make a personal connection. Political leaders need to frame issues before tackling them. Giving them a personal narrative can help them recognize how the issue at hand matters to the people they represent.
  • When possible, know your representative’s background. Researching and engaging with their policy platform will make your conversation more impactful. For instance, your representative may have spoken out about nuclear weapons before, then fell silent; by citing their prior position, you show that it’s an issue that matters to their constituents.
  • Prepare and practice. Try to script out your call ahead of time and read over what you want to say before dialing the phone but don’t let that compromise your sincerity.

See the sample script below for more guidance:

“My name is [your name], and I’m a resident of [hometown or university]. There are more than 16,000 nuclear weapons throughout the world, and they pose a grave threat to humanity. I’m calling today because I believe that it’s time to place this issue front and center. Will you take the right steps to lead us toward a nuclear free world by pursuing global zero?”
During key campaign moments throughout the year, we will need to generate rapid-response action to urge our elected leaders and officials down the path toward a nuclear-free world.

Here are helpful hints to help you quickly mobilize your peers to make calls to their representative. 

  • Show them how it’s done. At the outset, calling your elected leaders can seem intimidating. The easiest way to dispel these fears is to demonstrate a call in front of a large group. Get in front of a class, a group of friends, your local Global Zero team and call your representative on the spot to show them how easy and painless it is. Then ask everyone in the group to get out their phones and make their own call. Have a sample script on hand for everyone to use. 
  • Incentivize. Find a highly-trafficked location or event on campus or in your community (i.e. club fairs, cafeterias, art festivals, farmers markets, etc.) and ask passersby to make a call in exchange for a baked good, sticker or other Global Zero swag. Have the appropriate phone number for your elected leaders and officials and sample scripts on hand. 
  • Use events to drive action. Hosting a Global Zero meeting, event, panel discussion or movie screening? These events should always incorporate an advocacy action and are perfect opportunities to encourage a captive audience to make a phone call. After the event, explain the current campaign, the advocacy action and its impact. Then provide a sample script and have attendees get out their phones and make the call. 
Any questions? Contact us at [email protected].