Staff Development Workshops

Grassroots Turbocharge: 75 Ideas in 60 Minutes to Elevate Your Grassroots Program

If you could spend an hour to learn over 70 ways to improve your grassroots advocacy effectiveness, would it be worth your time? Join Amy for her rapid-fire delivery of 75 ways you can improve your grassroots productivity and results. She will give you specific tips in the following areas of grassroots management:

  • Communications
  • Strategy Formulation
  • Stakeholder Development
  • Grassroots Leadership and Survival
  • Grassroots Events
  • Recognition
  • Increasing Your Influence IQ
  • Grassroots Culture

“This was very engaging, with great tips for all kinds of organizations. I found most valuable Amy’s reminder that training is about behavior change — you have to measure results. I loved her “grassroots survival kit!”–Morgan Watson, Carr Workplaces

“Great ideas to recognize and motivate grasstops volunteers and create a culture of advocacy.”–Mary Kate Cunningham, American Society of Association Executives

The Purposeful PAC™

Are you tired of a lackluster response to your PAC recruitment presentations, letters, and emails? Are the same patriotic clichés failing to inspire involvement? Does your PAC website serve as an advertisement rather then a recruiting tool?

The Purposeful PAC™ incorporates scientifically tested methods of persuasion to increase not only your PAC receipts but also emotional allegiance to your cause.

Each time we are hired to deliver this content, clients experience at least a 50 percent increase in PAC receipts and/or participation. (See the comments below for more client results)

We can custom design and deliver a Persuasive PAC™ presentation for you, or train your staff and/or volunteer PAC recruiters to deliver our custom-designed presentation.

“As a result of your "Principles of PAC Persuasion" presentation, our average individual PAC contribution jumped 300%! I attribute this to the solid ethical persuasion skills our members gleaned from your talk.” –Holly Reed, Coordinator, Political Affairs, Connecticut Association of Realtors

"What a great program! You connected very well with our members. The evaluations from our attendees have been very positive." –Derenda Updegrave, Government Affairs Director, Pennsylvania Association of REALTORS

"Thank you for speaking at our National RPAC Conference. Our State chapter members and staff have not stopped talking about your presentation regarding the science of persuasion and how it relates to PAC fundraising." –John E. Ferruggiaro II, Vice President, Political and Community Affairs, National Association of Realtors.

"Even though our PAC is the largest in the state, and our members certainly know how to sell, we continuously seek to improve our RPAC fundraising efforts. Our members raved about Amy's scientific persuasion approach to fundraising because it works for PAC fundraising, and for any sales situation." – Jim Hilz, Director, Government Affairs, Ohio Association of Realtors (formerly), President, BIA Central Ohio

"Amy - you're a star! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with our group as they work to become the next generation of women leaders in government." –The Honorable Betty Montgomery, Auditor, State of Ohio, Chair, The JoAnn Davidson Leadership Institute

Staff Workshops: Excellence is Not an Option

Over 85% of our long term consulting clients have experienced an increase in financial and human resources, as well as an increase in senior management recognition, after adopting our government relations performance strategies. This workshop was created based on the habits of excellence most often manifested by our high-performing clients.

In these interactive workshops, you’ll learn:

  • The three reasons why government relations professionals do not receive the organizational respect they deserve
  • The one type of meeting you must initiate that will guarantee you are seen as a strategic team player
  • Over 10 habits of personal and professional excellence you can immediately integrate into your daily work performance
  • How to gain visibility without “bragging”
  • How to think, behave and perform strategically, rather than constantly fighting fires
  • The common behaviors made in every staff meeting that can threaten your advancement
  • The technique to guarantee that you will be seen as a strategic asset to your team and organization

“Just wanted to follow up and thank you again for the valuable time you spent with the Grassroots Activism team of the Midwest Region on Friday. There is no question that your thoughts and counsel are wise and right on target. We are setting the stage to really grow our ground game, and your input is so important to help us build on the current foundation.” –Jim Buchy, Vice President, formerly of Public Policy Midwest Region, NFIB

“Excellent as always! I learned how to sell our value to our non-advocacy peers and to always reinforce the results and resources we bring to the table.” –Nicholas Oliver, American Heart Association, Rhode Island Affiliate

“I found Amy’s process for identifying how to build high output grassroots through mobilizations and the 'how to really screw up an action alert' exercise a very good perspective. Her explanation on how to use loss framing, contrast, and exclusivity was very helpful. I will use this information in my grassroots promotional material.” –Tom Sri, National Federation of Independent Business

From Online Chatters to Doing What Matters: Getting Your Advocates Off Their Computers and On the Streets

The proliferation of online advocacy tools has leveled the grassroots advocacy playing field. Savvy political involvement professionals are now admitting that online activity can fall short of what is needed for effective grassroots persuasion. Ironically, the popularity of computer communication has diluted its impact. Lasting influence requires doing what your opponents are not doing: prying advocates away from the computer, and getting them in front of their legislators.

Learning outcomes include:

  • How to gauge which online advocates have offline potential
  • Understanding relative persuasive strength of online vs. face-to-face contact
  • The psychological tools that motivate volunteers to interpersonal interaction
  • How increased volunteer commitment leads to increased legislator contact
  • The ideal offline structure for maximum volunteer engagement and ownership

“All of Amy’s workshop was valuable, but the social capital piece was very informative and interesting. Amy is a wealth of information, such a joy to listen to and learn from.” –Stephanie Wentz, Member Services Manager, NFIB Colorado

“I got some good ideas on how to consolidate some information we distribute, and ways to move members from meeting with us as staff to getting them to transfer that time to our legislators at the state level. It helped me mentally build a bridge between what we are doing and where we should go.” – Andy Patterson, Member Service Manager, NFIB Ohio

The Fortune “Power 25” Influence Inventory. The Persuasion Tactics that Change Legislators' Minds (proprietary TSG research-based content)

The government relations profession is based on influence. It’s the bread and butter of our business. However, too many of us are looking for the “silver bullet” influence solution, rather than taking a methodological, strategic approach to internal and external influence challenges.

Are there influence tactics and strategies that you can use with elected officials to create a predictable result? This is the question that Amy Showalter and Dr. Kelton Rhoads sought to answer through an exclusive research project.

Most grassroots and PAC research focuses on tactics independent of the influence context. We asked organizations to reveal their influence tactics and context relative to influencing undecided legislators. Our research examined over 70 variables to determine which predicted legislative influence success.

After over 50 interviews with top lobbying organizations, including those on Fortune’s “Power 25” list, data collection and statistical analysis, we have developed a formula for helping you decide which influence tactics work in certain legislative situations. You’ll learn what works, rather than what is most expedient, as you begin your next influence campaign.

The Congressional Management Foundation’s Kathy Goldschmidt called the research results “fascinating and useful.”

This workshop includes Amy’s real world tips for implementing the disciplines needed to increase your influence IQ.

The Influence Tactics of Fortune’s “Power 25”
Come learn what the research tells us about:
According to the data, which type of legislator is the least persuadable
The #1 factor that determines whether a legislator will consider your position
Whether PAC contributions matter to elected officials
Which types of grassroots constituents are most influential
Which method of communication is most influential
Which grassroots tactics are most successful, and which are a waste of time
The #1 way to get a legislator to co-sponsor your legislation
The best way to get a legislator to lobby his or her colleagues on your behalf

“To have real data to back up and debunk common lobbying techniques is fascinating and invaluable. We can stop wasting our time on what doesn’t work.” –Cassi Baker, Vice President, State Government Affairs, Vice President, State Government Affairs

Why Winners Win – The Fortune “Power 25” Benchmarking Findings (proprietary TSG research-based content)

Are you benchmarking or bench-parking? Who do you benchmark against? Your peers? Did you ever think that this approach may be shortsighted?

When we benchmark against our own industry, we limit our scope. True visionaries know that doing something different from our peers is what accelerates growth.

Benchmarking is defined as “a standard of excellence or achievement, or a measurement compared to similar entities.” We disagree. We believe that comparing ourselves to other similar groups leads to bench-parking. If you benchmark against groups who are similar to yours, but are not getting grassroots results, you are going to be bench parked.

This workshop is based on Amy’s research with members of Fortune’s “Power 25” list of the most powerful lobbying groups in the country. She reveals the grassroots recruitment, retention, and motivation competencies that make these organizations so respected. The workshop includes not only the benchmarking findings, but she leads you through an assessment that will quickly reveal where you should focus your grassroots development work. You’ll know exactly what to do to raise the bar and avoid being bench-parked. Amy also provides consulting and coaching collaborations on the specific “Power 25” capabilities.

“The discussion of recruitment and retention competencies was very valuable. I am planning to incorporate this information into our department's annual planning session. Amy is an engaging speaker and a quick thinker. She covered a broad amount of information in a short time.” –Brad Lowrey, Virginia Farm Bureau

“Amy has a good delivery style and energy. Her tips on recruitment and retention of volunteers were very valuable. I’m going to use this information to shape the organization's volunteer management efforts.” –Katherine Krause, Vice President, Advocacy (formerly), American Heart Association

“Thank you for speaking at our State Leaders Workshop! You were a real hit! We heard nothing but positive comments from our State Chapter Leaders. I am confident that they left motivated and energized to effectively recruit and motivate more audiology advocates.” –Jodi Chappell, Director of Health Care Policy, American Academy of Audiology

How to Be a Motivating Team Leader: No-Cost Ways to Gain Loyalty, Enthusiasm and Action

This workshop draws on insights from hundreds of “rock star” volunteer leaders across the nation. We have discerned the patterns of their leadership behaviors and created a list of specific, immediately applicable behaviors your volunteers can apply that will ramp up your motivational quotient.

You’ll learn:

  • Over 20 behaviors that will take your volunteer interactions from dull to dynamic
  • Why ambiguity demotivates volunteers, and how to manage it
  • Why “playing favorites” is the right thing to do
  • How to engage the principle of “strategic spontaneity” for recognition that serves larger organizational goals
  • Easy ways to integrate informal recognition into your weekly routine

“Amy's enthusiasm is contagious. I will use this information in formalizing our PAC member appreciation program. It’s a great topic. I wish we had more time.” –Callie Jill Denton, Executive Director, Kansas Association for Justice

“It’s kind of like the skater or diver who gets a score of 6 across the board from all the judges. Amy received perfect ratings from all of our Member Activism Coordinators for two of her training programs. I believe it was because she put the time and effort into understanding our organization and our needs before the session and then had an energy level that kept everyone motivated to learn.” –Steve Woods, Vice President, State Public Policy, National Federation of Independent Business

How To Prevent Burnout of Your Most Valuable Advocates (proprietary TSG research-based content)

You’ll learn the top four reasons quality advocates disengage and how to use the science of influence and motivation to prevent it.

The surprising results of our research with hundreds of quality grassroots advocates—the ones who attend your annual Lobby Day events, D.C. Fly-In’s, testify before legislative committees, write and meet with their lawmakers when asked, etc., has revealed that it’s not the lack of organizational recognition, it’s not the lack of senior leader support for grassroots, and it’s not the “difficult to understand issues” that cause high-producing advocates to become inactive. There are twelve major research findings, each categorized according to four major themes.

And, it’s not just a data dump; Amy will share with you the psychological tactics to reverse and prevent burnout.

“I found most valuable Amy’s strategies and solutions to common problems we all have. I will utilize this and pass it on to our communications staff, as well. She has good communication skills, and great material that is well presented. She includes the participants in her workshops.” –Buddy Jennings, South Carolina Farm Bureau

“This made me think about what we should be doing as we launch our grassroots program. Amy included solid references to motivational psychology and demonstrated grounding in the science of persuasion, rather than 'PR 101'.” –Kevan Fenderson, Albertson's

“I’m going to use this information to re-invigorate current PAC members’ motivation and stimulate interest from potential members. I found most valuable the admonition to review any internal deficiencies in educating and persuading employees on why their views should mirror the views of the company. I found this to be very informative and very forward thinking. Amy is highly motivated and motivational!” –Carrie Gladney, R. R. Donnelley

“I learned how to manage our member's expectations. Amy has expertise based on real world experience.” –Gregory Knopp, National Association of Realtors

The Influence Edge – Powerful Presentation and Persuasion Skills

When was the last time you saw an extraordinary speaker? What was it that caused you to respect them and their message?

You can’t deliver an effective presentation without persuasion and platform skills. Government affairs professionals need superior presentation skills to get internal and external results.

Whether testifying before a committee, presenting legislative initiatives to your organization’s leaders, persuading others to join the PAC, or motivating your grassroots advocates, the ability to convincingly communicate is a necessary government relations skill.

“Amy's thorough and thoughtful approach to coaching enabled me to deliver a major presentation with great success and high-impact results. Amy challenged me to highlight key points with proven techniques instead of just saying words. I’ve never delivered a presentation with so much confidence and credibility. As a result of this presentation, I have unprecedented support for my strategic plan and am working to build a movement within our grassroots program.” –Suzanne Pechilio Polis, Director, Grassroots Advocacy, American Heart Association, Office of Federal Advocacy

Harvard Business Review subscribers rated “the ability to communicate” the single most important factor in predicting executive promotions. In the study, communication skills were found to be more important than ambition, education, and capacity for hard work. (Bowman)

Amy delivers this workshop in a traditional classroom setting, individual consultation, or in a telephone coaching format. You’ll learn:

  • How to tell compelling stories that make your audience self-persuade
  • How to be comfortable and confident on the platform
  • How to demonstrate the value of grassroots, PAC and lobbying efforts
  • How to make the “business case” for increased government affairs budgets
  • How to skillfully answer the “worst case scenario” questions

“Amy helped me develop and fine tune a major presentation before hundreds of our franchisees. Not only did many audience members tell me it was the best presentation of the conference, my CEO said he “loved it!” I now have tripled our Action Call response rate.” –Andrew Weikert, Government Affairs Liaison, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels

Putting the Roots into Grassroots and PAC – No Cost Ways to Gain Internal Organizational Support for Your Grassroots and PAC

Conquer the #1 concern in the industry – a lack of internal understanding, support, and resources for grassroots, PAC, and even lobbying efforts. Learn how to focus on achievement rather than activity to demonstrate your value.

The Cornerstones of An Effective Internal Corporate Grassroots Program

Many corporate grassroots programs fail because of “day one deviations.” Their foundation, standards and systems (if they existed at all) were faulty. Without a firm foundation, we increase the likelihood of wasted effort, employee apathy, and worst of all, having to resort to ad hoc employee grassroots mobilizations.

In this workshop, you’ll learn:

  • The six most common expectations your senior management has of a grassroots program, and how to manage them
  • Why you must internally market the value of employee grassroots before you even announce the program, and how to market it
  • The eight ingredients of a successful corporate grassroots program, and
  • Over ten benchmarks to assess the effectiveness and progress of your program
High Output Grassroots – The Keys to Successful Grassroots Mobilizations

This workshop outlines the specific, step-by-step instructions that must be a part of any grassroots mobilization and what you must do before and after an action call to maximize your results..

How to Avoid the 10 Deadly Sins of Grassroots Leaders

Unfortunately, there are sure-fire ways that a grassroots leader can take a program to premature ruin. This workshop reveals the 10 Deadly Sins, which lead to grassroots apathy and kill grassroots momentum.

How to Find, Keep, and Fire Grassroots Activists

How to find and lead advocates and solve common advocate management challenges.

Counting Isn’t Enough – How to Measure your Grassroots and PAC Efforts

Why the number of responses to a grassroots mobilization and PAC receipts are a simplistic measurement of your efforts, and how to measure what matters and market it for real results.

How to Manage the Expectations of a Grassroots Program

Learn what your middle management, grassroots and PAC, volunteers, Board, and senior organization leaders expect of grassroots programs, and how you can deliver beyond their expectations.

Beyond Dinners and Plaques—How to Produce Raging Thunder Advocates Through Reward and Recognition

Learn no-cost and low-cost ways to recognize grassroots and PAC members beyond dinners, plaques and receptions, as well as how to cultivate an attitude of praise and recognition every day.

How to Accelerate Your PAC and Grassroots Results through Strategic Goal Setting

A highly interactive strategy, planning, and goal setting workshop. Participants leave with a strategic development plan.

Scientific Influence Workshops for Government Relations Staff and Volunteer Advocates

Principles of Persuasion Workshop

Principles of Persuasion Workshop/Communications Audit (PDF format)

How to ethically use the science of persuasion to gain more grassroots and PAC success, and ethically influence legislators.

“This is the best workshop yet! I found Amy’s information on how to help people perceive and digest information very valuable. I’m going to create invitations that are more 'inspirational' and develop messages to get the results that we want.” –Kathy Peerson, NFIB

“What a great program! You connected very well with our members. The evaluations from our attendees have been very positive.” –Derenda Updegrave, Government Affairs Director, Pennsylvania Association of REALTORS

“Although we have one of the larger PAC’s in the country, we always look for ways to improve. Amy's session on the science of persuasion and how to ethically integrate it into our PAC presentations received very high reviews from our members. Based on specific after-conference evaluations, her session was extremely well received. She took our PAC leadership to a higher level in their PAC fundraising strategy. We will include Amy at future events.” –Ned Monroe, Director of Political Affairs, Associated Builders and Contractors (formerly)

“Thank you for speaking at our National RPAC Conference. Our State chapter members and staff have not stopped talking about your presentation regarding the science of persuasion and how it relates to PAC fundraising.” –John E. Ferruggiaro II, Managing Director, Political Field Operations, National Association of Realtors

“We appreciated how you customized your talk. You made the science of persuasion applicable not only to PAC fundraising, but to the real estate profession, as well.” –Timothy Calnen, Vice President of Government Affairs, Connecticut Association of Realtors, Inc.

*Influence In Under an Hour

As influence consultants, we asked ourselves: “What’s the most useful information to know about the persuasion process, that could be taught in under an hour?” This is the essential quick-start guide to persuasion & compliance, taught from a scientific perspective.

*Stages of Change

One of the most common mistakes made by government affairs professionals is that we do not understand our prospect’s current position. When prospects DO change, they do so in a predictable number of stages. Each stage requires a different type of message. Learn the stages and you’ll dramatically improve your influence success.

*The Ideal Communicator for Hostile Audiences

There are lots of tactics that work successfully for friendly or neutral audiences. Hostile audiences are a different matter altogether. This presentation will show you how to successfully communicate with audiences that don’t like you or your message.

*Orbits of Influence

There are scores of influence tactics that may be used to move or change a prospect. Learn how to select the appropriate tactic for the situation and the prospect.

*Influencing “Up” the Legislative Food Chain

Upward influence is difficult! Especially when you’re trying to persuade busy, powerful lawmakers to support your cause. This presentation is for political and grassroots activists who need to influence their legislators. It covers:

  • Establishing a relationship with the legislator
  • Finding points of similarity
  • Guarding and enhancing your advocacy’s credibility
  • How the legislator is likely to think about your issue, and the “triggers” that will place him or her in your corner (or the opposition’s)
  • Necessary checklists to review before approaching the legislator
*Influential Narratives Workstorm

A 4-5 hour workshop that includes Rhoads’ Narrative presentation, but requires significant audience input. Participants are asked to create a compelling narrative for their current position or advocacy, and are given both psychological and literary guidance to that end. Writing and stylistic advice may be included. Specific story sequences and elements are offered, and stories are “tested” for their ability to transport. At the conclusion of the workstorm, participants will know how to develop persuasive stories that are both compelling and unlikely to arouse reactance in their intended audiences.


  • Vital when influence must be subtle but powerful;
  • Important when the audience is likely to argue against your position;
  • Useful in persuading while maintaining positive relations.

“After Dr. Rhoads’ workshop on developing compelling stories, I used his formula and in less than 30 minutes, came up with four stories that I can use to clearly and persuasively communicate with legislators. His tips are applicable for persuading policy makers, as well as recruiting grassroots advocates. I learned it’s not just having a story, but its construction and delivery that make it resonate with the listener.” –Betsy Vetter, Director, Government Relations, American Heart Association

*Scientific influence workshops delivered with Kelton Rhoads, Ph.D.