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Resources

January 23, 2020

Town Hall Guide

Parts of this guide have been adapted from the “Indivisible Guide”

 

Why Town Halls?

Town Halls are public events or meetings that members of Congress hold with their constituents. These are an opportunity for the Iranian-American community to have its voice heard by educating your member of Congress and urging them to stand up on our issues. 

 

What to expect

Your member of Congress will spend the first 15-30 minutes talking about the issues they’re seeing in Congress. They will then open up the floor for questions from the audience (their constituents). 

 

How to

 

  • Get there early: Your group should aim to meet up 30 minutes before the meeting time to get together, do a quick huddle, and make sure you find seats. If you cannot get there early, make sure to let the organizer of your group know.
  • Ask good questions: When the member of Congress opens the floor for questions, raise your hand or file in line right away. When asking the question, make sure to remember the following guidelines:
  • Stick with a prepared list of questions. Don’t be afraid to read off a sheet of paper. If you want to ask your own question on behalf of NIAC, make sure to email your question to our National Organizing Director at donna@niacaction.org so we can make sure it stays on message. 
  • Be polite and persistent, and demand real answers. Members of Congress are good at dodging questions they don’t want to answer. If they aren’t giving a real answer, stay persistent and call them out on it. Other members in the crowd should amplify this by clapping when you’re pushing for answers. 
  • Support the person asking the question: When a member of NIAC is asking a question, make sure to hold up one of our Town Hall posters. These 8×11’’ (printer paper) posters may be small, but are a way to show the physical representation of the Iranian-Americans and our allies that are attending the meeting. After the NIAC member asks the questions, amplify it by clapping to again show support for the issue.

 

 

Question Formats

Each town hall is a little different when it comes to how the Member of Congress will field questions. Here are a couple of formats that you may see; be prepared for each one as you will most likely not know the format until you get to the town hall:

 

  • Raising hands – make sure everyone in your group raises their hands right away. This increases the chance that one of your questions will be answered. 
  • Lining up at a microphone – much like raising hands, make sure to file in line right away. If you’re closer to the front of the line, your question is more likely to be answered. 
  • Question Cards – Sometimes, you will have to write your question on a card before entering the venue. In this case, the staff usually filters the question cards and will choose which questions get answered. If every member of your group fills out a card, one of your questions is more likely to be answered. 

 

 

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