This post is part of our Elected Leader FAQ guidance for newly elected leaders.
Newly elected leaders can set up their first term for success with a listening tour. Listening tours provide an opportunity to:
- build relationships
- deepen and broaden your knowledge of your constituency
- improve your visibility as an elected leader
The goal of your listening tour is to more thoroughly understand your constituency’s diverse perspectives. Offer as many options to participate as possible and publicize them well in advance. This effort will require resources, so only plan for as many events as you are certain you can execute.
Step One: Create a Listening Tour Survey
- Draft questions about your constituents, ranging from basic contact information to issue priorities — anything you’d like to know about learning tour participants. Some suggestions:
- Cover any policy changes you intend to prioritize or are passionate about.
- Format questions and responses on a 1-10 scale (1=very bad, 10=very good) or 1-4 scale (1 = unimportant, 4 = very important).
- Frame questions and response options in a way that will help you quantify and aggregate the results.
- Create a Google Form and populate it with the questions you drafted.
Step Two: Schedule and Market Your Listening Tour
- Schedule 1:1 meetings (in-person or remote) with key organizations and stakeholders.
- Set up in-person events as the backbone of your listening tour, health and safety permitting.
- Schedule remote and virtual meetings when necessary.
- Meet constituents where they already are: show up to PTA meetings, schools, or wherever there are legitimate opportunities to pass along your survey and listen to the discussions.
- Compile a list of organizations, community leaders, and forums, including your campaign and constituent email lists where you can send the survey and invitations to distribute as widely as necessary.
- Send messaging, invitations, and details about your listening tour events and survey link to the entities you identified.
- Reach beyond organic posts and search results:
- Create static Facebook ads targeted to specific neighborhoods and zip codes, featuring local imagery, and inviting community members to join the events and fill out the survey.
- Advertise survey and tour events via pay-per-click Google ads.
- Create a script for volunteers and staff to read for calls to constituents and organizations, inviting them to fill out the survey and join the tour events.
- Create short digital videos (just you into camera is fine) for each area in your district asking for constituent input and participation.
Step Three: Lead Your Events
- Create a template agenda for your meetings; focus on collecting information on constituent priorities and issues where you’re aligned with your constituency.
- Avoid overcommitting to resolving every issue that constituents highlight; these events are part of a listening tour, rather than a problem-solving tour.
- Keep track of any to-do’s and commitments you make along the way.
Step Four: Share Your Findings
- Compile and aggregate your data to identify trends and themes that emerge from these conversations.
- Create a document that summarizes your findings.
- Provide a top-sheet summary.
- Write for average constituents as well as policy wonks (avoid excessive academic language, but show your work).
- Share key findings via social media and email.
- Highlight the document and key findings on your website.
- Include highlights and links to the full document in your thank you emails.
- Submit your document to your governing bodies official records.
- Contact the local press to discuss what you’ve learned.
- What are some of the questions you have that you hope a listening tour could help answer?
- Who are some of the community leaders you could contact to spread the word about your tour and survey?
- What are some of the events and venues that you could join as part of your listening tour?
Explore how to set yourself up for success as an elected leader.
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