Tell Your Story
Your story is the most powerful tool you have. It is important to develop this story in order to have maximum impact.
Many of us have been through a lot in our journey with congenital heart defects. We have often heard, “I could write a book.” Unfortunately, in the world of advocacy, you don’t have time to share a book with reporters or your lawmakers. In fact, you often have only 30 seconds.
Whether writing an email, making a phone call, doing an interview or meeting your legislator face-to-face, your story is the most powerful tool you have. It is important to develop this story in order to have maximum impact.
There are three key components to the story—the introduction, key message, then your request, or ask. Each time you are given an opportunity to tell your story, you may need to tell it a little differently. When preparing what to say, begin with the ask. What do I want my listener to do when I am done? Then move to the key message, selecting pieces of your story that add power to the ask. Finally, do not forget to include your introduction—especially when meeting with lawmakers whose primary concern is that you can vote for them.
The following tips should be considered as you work on your story:
- Keep it short—It may be helpful to have a couple of stories of different lengths for different purposes.
-A 30-second “elevator speech” for a quick email or meeting with lawmaker.
-1-2 minute interview story with powerful sound bites.
-Time your story to make sure it is not too long.
- Be clear—use plain words and avoid medical jargon.
- Stay on message—make sure to accurately represent the views of the Adult Congenital Heart Association.
- Speak from the heart and talk about your experience.
- Be accurate, honest and persuasive.
- Avoid relying on statistics.
- Be polite, respectful, patient and grateful.
- Always have an ask—what do you want your audience to do? Call, write, give money…
- Practice, practice, practice. Tell your story to others and notice their reactions. After each practice, edit what you liked, and what you didn't like.
Work through and practice your story. If you have questions or would like to share your story with ACHA for future advocacy activities, please contact our advocacy department at firstname.lastname@example.org or (215) 849-1260.
You may also feel free to share your story through ACHA's online story sharing webpage, Express Yourself! Click here to share your story and here to read other member’s stories.
Click here for a handy, printable version of these tips!