The Essential Guide for Virtual Advocacy

Feb 1, 2023

February is Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month®, a month that is dedicated to the recognition of CTE programs and Career Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) that play an integral role in the growth of emerging leaders and entrepreneurs. Now, it is time for you to advocate on behalf of DECA!

Advocacy is an important tool for creating change and making your voice heard. In recent years, virtual advocacy has become a powerful way for people to make an impact from school or home.

Here are some tips to help you get started.

Before the Meeting

  • Request a meeting a few weeks ahead of time.
  • You can call or email the office of your policymaker. Most have websites with their contact information. If you call, ask to speak to their scheduler.
    • Often, meeting with staff members is just as good as—or even better—than meeting with the representative. Members of Congress rely on their staff for key information as they make decisions. It’s also true that when you meet with staff, they are more likely to have time to explore the issues you are discussing and ask follow-up questions.
  • Let the office know what issue you will discuss, the number of people attending the meeting and your available times.
  • After requesting the meeting, follow up to ensure your request was received.
  • Once the meeting is scheduled, confirm what virtual platform you will use (i.e., Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, etc.).
  • Twenty-four hours before your meeting, confirm the details with the scheduler or aide. In this email, include the following:
    • The virtual meeting link
    • A brief agenda or outline and links to any materials you wish to share (optional)
    • The meeting organizer’s phone number
  • If you are advocating with a group of DECA members, designate roles such as a facilitator, a tech manager, a note-taker, etc. Discuss who in your group will open, close and deliver specific asks in advance.
  • Outline an agenda with tasks for each person.
  • Practice, practice, practice! Write out your part and rehearse.
  • Test your technology, including the platform, audio and video settings.
  • Do research on the person you are meeting with. For example: If you can say, “It’s great to be meeting with you today. I was happy to see that the congresswoman received an award on a particular issue.” it shows that you are interested in what they are doing and not only looking for them to be interested in your issues. Knowing your legislator’s voting history on CTE-related issues will also help you craft a more compelling argument to gain their support.

During the Meeting

  • Dress professionally and avoid background clutter and background noise.
  • Be punctual; log in or call 10 minutes before the meeting start time.
  • Open your meeting with brief introductions.
  • Make sure to mention your connection to the state or congressional district represented by the office you’re meeting with and that you are a constituent.
  • Stick to your agenda and speaking times.
  • Actively listen and ask questions.
  • If you don’t know the answer to a question you receive, simply saying, “I don’t know,” and “I will follow up with an answer to that question,” is perfectly acceptable.
  • Take detailed notes, especially for any feedback you receive or follow-up information you promise.
  • Your elected official may have little knowledge of CTE and DECA. You can use this as an opportunity to teach them.
  • Ask the member of Congress or staff member if you can take a snapshot of the screen to share later.
  • Thank the elected official or legislative staff for their time and consideration.

After the Meeting

  • Remember, your meeting should not be the final conversation. The best advocacy focuses on sustained relationship building rather than single conversations.
  • Use social media to thank members of Congress or their staff for the meeting with you, including a photo or screenshot if you have one. This strengthens your relationship because you’ll have shared public gratitude for their availability.
  • Stay in touch by sending a follow-up email or thank you card to everyone you met with.


Debbie Taylor
Leadership Manager

Debbie Taylor is DECA's leadership manager. In this role, she implements a comprehensive student leadership program for both the high school and college divisions. She is responsible for the Emerging Leader Series, student recognition programs and leads the DECA Inc. executive officer teams and elections.

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