Tips for Effective Advocacy Stories

Humanizing a policy issue can be more effective than statistics
Tips for Effective Advocacy Stories

The ability to tell personal stories is a powerful tool in any advocate’s arsenal. While irrefutable facts are important when making any policy argument, personal stories have the power to connect with and influence people’s perceptions and world views – even policymakers’! Below are key elements to consider when crafting advocacy stories. 

  • Identify the Goal. Doing so will help you keep your story short (800 words or fewer) and relevant to the policy issue at hand.  

  • Start and End Strong. A well-crafted opening grabs an audience’s attention, convinces it to keep listening, and helps it understand your story’s context. A strong closing line (6-8 words – TOPS) distills what your story is all about and makes it memorable.  

  • Identify the Stakes. Describe challenges caused by laws or implicated by policy proposals. Explain why the issue matters at a human level and needs to be addressed now. 

  • Be Descriptive and Personable. Being descriptive and appealing to the five senses taps into your listeners’ imagination and turns a 2-dimensional story into a 3-dimensional story. Tap into your humanity to avoid a common pitfall – reverting to talking points vs. telling a personal story.  

  • Include a Surprise. Unexpected twists create teachable opportunities.  They often cause listeners to think, “I hadn’t considered that before!” 

  • Describe success. Policymakers like to back a winner. Explain what success will look like and that it is achievable. Invite them to be on the winning team.