Town Hall Toolkit

Be a Stronger Community Advocate

Public events like town hall meetings are commonly used forums for US Congress members to connect with their district constituents during recess. These meetings are an essential part of our democracy dating back to the colonial era of the United States. When attending a town hall meeting, be prepared to ask short, pointed questions and press your elected official to give clear answers (sample questions below). Be polite, but direct and persistent. Your member of Congress should feel as though they’re under pressure by constituents.Town hall meetings are a chance to:

  • Engage your member of Congress directly about an issue that is important to you
  • Ask your member of Congress to take a public stance on that issue
  • Educate policymakers by sharing your viewpoint, providing information, and offering your assistance
  • Influence your policymaker’s position.

Quick Links

Town Hall Guide 

Find a Meeting Near You

Find a town hall meeting in your area using the Town Hall Project search tool to locate upcoming events. Check frequently for updates.

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Prepare for the Meeting

  • Know the position of your member of Congress. Search for your member of Congress on house.gov or senate.gov. Visit their website, Facebook page, or Twitter feed to read their latest press releases, speeches, newsletters, and tweets. Find out how they've voted recently and which issues they are following.
  • Prepare your questions. Write down your questions including a breif background on why it is important to you (sample questions below). Make sure it focused on a specific subject or piece of legislation. Avoid a long introductory statements, but be sure to share your name, town you live in, where you work, and what you do.
  • Be brief. Focus your attention on one or two questions. Practice asking those questions until you can get through each one in 25 seconds or less.

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On the Day of the Meeting

  • Arrive early.
  • Sign in if asked to do so and introduce yourself to the staff. Offer a business card or other contact information.
  • Ask if you need to sign up in advance to ask a question.
  • Sit in the front of the audience. If microphones are in the aisle, sit as close to the aisle as possible so you can quickly get to the microphone when it is time to ask questions.
  • Silence your cell phone and any other electronic devices.

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Stay Engaged after the Meeting

  • Share your business card. Give your business card to your member of Congress and his/her staff and ask how you can assist on these types of issues.
  • Share your experience on social media. All members of Congress are active on social media, including Facebook and Twitter.
    • Write a post on their Facebook wall.
    • Send a Tweet to repeat your message or thank them for addressing your concerns. Find their Twitter handle at tweetcongress.org/tweeters. Remember that hashtags increase your visibility. For example:
      • “Thank you @CongressmanX for your support of @NIH! #CutsHurt”
      • “Thank you @CongressmanX for meeting with me to discuss how @NIH budget cuts could affect #diabetes #research #cutshurt”
      • Tag the Endocrine Society and follow us at @TheEndoSociety and @EndoMedia.
  • Tell us about your meeting. Let the Endocrine Society know you participated, what you asked, and what the response was. Send an email, post on Facebook, and tweet on Twitter to share your experience! Contact Jessica Harris at jharris@endocrine.org to share more.

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Sample Questions for your Town Hall

When the chance arises, be prepared to ask your questions during the meeting. Briefly introducing yourself (where you live, what you do) and explain that you are here because you are concerned about a specific issue (e.g., health reform or NIH funding).

Health Reform-Related Questions:

  • I am an endocrinologist who takes care of people with diabetes and other endocrine-related diseases. Can I tell my patients that everyone who has coverage today will still have coverage under a new health reform law?
  • I am an endocrinologist who takes care of people with diabetes and other endocrine-related diseases. It is absolutely critical that people like my patients not have to deal with pre-existing condition exclusions. What is your plan to protect them?
  • I am a member of the Endocrine Society. The Society has developed several key principles for health reform, including access to affordable and adequate health care, maintenance of preventive services, protection of women's health, and support for health delivery models that incorporate coordinated care. Can I share these with you and can you talk about your position on these core principles?
  • I am a member of the Endocrine Society. The Society is the world's largest and most active professional society for endocrinologists and those engaged in endocrine science. The Society opposes any effort to eliminate the Prevention and Public Health Fund. The Prevention Fund has allowed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to expand effective prevention programs, such as the evidence-based Diabetes Prevention Program, which saves Medicare $2,650 per enrollee. What is your position on the prevention fund?
  • I am a member of the Endocrine Society. Ensuring that all women, regardless of their socioeconomic status, have continued access to health services, contraception, and preventive screenings is a top priority for the Society.
  • We strongly oppose any policy change that prevents Americans from choosing to receive care from physicians and other qualified providers based on site-of-service, such as Planned Parenthood clinics. What is your position on women's health care?

NIH-Related Questions:

  • I am a researcher funded by the National Institutes of Health. Do you think funding for medical research should be a federal priority?
  • Biomedical research faces deep cuts. Members of Congress seem to agree these cuts will be devastating, but they can't agree on how to avoid them. Do you understand how these cuts will be harmful to this community and your constituents, and what are you planning to do to protect the NIH?
  • Can I count on your support for increasing funding for biomedical research?
  • President Trump proposed a budget that would cut the National Institutes of Health by 20 percent. I am outraged. How are you going to help protect funding for medical research?

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Key Resources

Upcoming Town Halls
Endocrine Society Advocacy Campaigns
Endocrine Society Health Reform Principles
Endocrine News: Obamacare Repeal Expected to Come First in New Congress
FY 2018 Endocrine Society House Testimony in Support of NIH Funding
FASEB's NIH State Fact Sheets

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