- Put your plan into action using your advocacy tools
- Engage with your audience
- Prepare for and attend a meeting with your audience
- Follow-up with your audience
- Achieve your goal
ENGAGING YOUR AUDIENCE
The next stage of self-advocacy is to begin engaging with your audience, and continuing through the process of achieving your goal. There are many options for both making contact with your audience and maintaining that contact. The methods that you use will depend on your abilities, goal, audience, and timelines.
Generally, self-advocacy goals can be achieved by engaging your audience using the following method. Sometimes, only one of these methods needs to be used, or perhaps two of the three. Just remember that no matter what method, or combination of methods you choose, you should always follow-up with your audience.
TELEPHONE CALL -> WRITTEN LETTER -> IN-PERSON MEETING -> FOLLOW-UP
Make an initial telephone call to your audience to request a meeting. Explain your purpose for the meeting, and make sure to be clear about who will be attending. You can use this sample telephone script to use for this call. This is not required if you are only planning to send a letter or e-mail.
- When you speak on the phone to someone in your audience's office about your goal, you may be passed around or get a voice mail message. Be persistent and make sure you speak to someone who is capable of scheduling a meeting with your audience.
Written Letter (sole tool)
You may choose to write a letter to achieve your goal. Sometimes, a letter is all that is required! The "Written Letter Format" document is a tool that will help you to organize your issue, research, personal story and key messages into a letter format to achieve your goal. Remember to follow-up with your audience within two weeks of posting your letter. Letters should be e-mailed, but can also be sent by mail, faxed or hand-delivered. You can use this format guide or chart for how to address your letter properly.
Written Letter (to get a meeting)
The purpose of writing a letter is to get a meeting with your audience. Follow-up your call with a written letter repeating your purpose, goal and key messages. The written letter is good practice for stating your goal and key messages clearly and succinctly, and is an excellent foundation for the next steps. Letters should be e-mailed, but can also be sent by mail, faxed or hand-delivered. You can use this format guide or chart for how to address your letter properly.
- Regardless of how you send your letter, make sure to follow up by telephone and/or e-mail persistently but respectfully until you get a meeting scheduled.
- You may be offered a meeting with someone other than your audience. Generally, you should take these opportunities, but continue to pursue the person you need to see.
- A "NO" not an option. Remember, you are entitled to have your goal addressed by the person who can do something about it.
For most advocacy goals, a meeting with your audience is recommended. Face-to-face meetings ensure that you receive the full attention of your audience, and you have the opportunity to tell your story fully and for maximum effect. A face-to-face meeting also enables you to engage in a conversation with your audience.
You may wish to bring a family member, friend or colleague with you to your meeting for support and to have a second opinion on how the meeting went. Having a support person can help you organize your thoughts prior to the meeting and assist you in any follow-up work that needs to be done to achieve your goal. Perhaps most importantly, a support person can help you to remain calm and relaxed in an unfamiliar or intimidating environment.
Preparing for your meeting:
Know how long the meeting is scheduled for and develop an agenda with an established goal and that is appropriate to the length of the meeting. You can use this sample agenda.
- Review any information about your audience
- Review your issue, goal and personal story
- Plan on taking someone with you and make sure you decide when each person will speak, leaving time for your audience to speak
- Try writing out the version of your personal story that you want to deliver, and practice telling it with friends or family members
Before your meeting:
- Send your agenda ahead of time, along with any material you want your audience to read, e.g. a fact sheet or related information
- Advise whom you will be bringing to the meeting, and ask for information about who will be attending with your audience
- If possible, gather information about other meeting participants (other than your audience)
- Contact the person you are meeting with 1-2 days prior to confirm
At the meeting:
You can use this step-by-step guide to conducting your meeting.
- Arrive at the meeting 10 minutes early
- Stick to your agenda and remember your goal
- Be passionate and respectful, not argumentative or confrontational
- Pay attention to body language, yours and theirs
- Provide specific examples with specific solutions, if applicable
- Take notes; this can be done by the person accompanying you
- Leave behind any appropriate material
- Thank them for their time and indicate when you plan to follow up
After your meeting:
- Send a thank you letter to the people you met with, and include any follow up information that your promised to gather
- Follow up again in a couple weeks to see if there has been any progress on the issue, including any commitments made by both you and your audience in your meeting
- Continue to follow up at regular intervals for progress reports
- Be persistent, but respectful