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How to Hold a Successful Meeting with Your MP or Provincial Representative


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In this webinar:
1. Attendees will be reminded of the process for developing an effective advocacy strategy
2. People will be taken through a review of how to tell your personal story
3. Everyone will understand the key steps to holding a successful meeting during the current pandemic

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How to Hold a Successful Meeting with Your MP or Provincial Representative

  1. 1. How to Hold a Successful Meeting with Your MP or Provincial Representative Thursday, November 19, 2020 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM Presented by Ryan Clarke, LL.B. founder of Advocacy Solutions
  2. 2. Agenda Welcome & introductions Webinar outcomes Review and context Telling your personal story Meeting (virtually) Q&A
  3. 3. Webinar Outcomes 3 Attendees will be reminded of the process for developing an effective advocacy strategy People will be taken through a review of how to tell your personal story Everyone will understand the key steps to holding a successful meeting during the current pandemic
  4. 4. 1. Identify your issues 2. Testand frame your issues 3. Developyour keymessage 4. Determineyour one ‘ask’ 5. Choose your tools and targets 4 Developing anEffective AdvocacyPlan: 5-StepProcess
  5. 5. Step 1: Identify Your Issues • Initial question – what are the problems, concerns, challenges that you face individually or as a group? • Try to articulate the answer to this question for as many issues as you can identify • Not all issues lend themselves to advocacy • TEST – can the objective be achieved through advocacy and can a target be identified 5
  6. 6. Step 2: Test and Frame Your Issues • For personal advocacy, identify the issues that matter most to you and the person in your care • For issue-based advocacy, find out what matters to the people that you represent (will help to frame the issues) – members surveys, round table discussions, informal conversations, focus group/public opinion poll, etc. • FRAMING – what aspect of the identified issues do you want to focus on initially • DECISION – which of the framed issues are you going to advocate for first? 6
  7. 7. Step 3: Develop Your Key Messages Identification… • Requires that you can take an array of information and distill it down to its simplest form • Requires that you separate fact from fiction • When advocating on behalf of a group, consensus on the issues is required 7
  8. 8. Step 3: Develop Your Key Messages Framing… • Develop 3 key messages that explain the salient points of your issue in simple language • Each one should be 25 words or less • Must always be clear, compelling, concise and consistent (4 Cs) • Practice presenting your 3 key messages to someone who has no knowledge of your issue 8
  9. 9. Step 4: Determine Your One ‘Ask’ The objective or goal of the strategy… • ONE – because you are going to ask for what you need, not a list of what you want • Requires one to make choices and potentially reach a consensus (just as it does when developing your 3 key messages) • Build your ‘ask’ into your ‘call to action’ key message to help ensure you deliver it • Sometimes opportunities will present themselves that will make the ‘ask’ very timely 9
  10. 10. Step 5: Advocacy Tools The means of delivering the messages… As a process, three steps must be followed regardless of the tool being utilized to get to the ‘Advocate’ stage ® STEP 1 EDUCATE STEP 2 DEMONSTRATE STEP 3 ADVOCATE 10
  11. 11. Why Meet With Elected Officials? • In our publicly funded, privately delivered health care system, government is a central player; in turn, local representatives are a key conduit to bringing heath care issues to the attention of federal/provincial governments • As your elected representatives, you will need to have (and foster) working relationships with these individuals if you are going to advocate to government • Face-to-face meetings (even virtually) are one of the most impactful forms of advocacy, allowing you to share your personal stories with someone who is responsible for representing your issues
  12. 12. Preparing For The Meeting Develop your 3 key messages (i.e. what you want to say) about the issue of concern to you Decide what your one ‘ask’ will be (i.e. what are you going to ask your elected representative to do for you) Determine who will be attending the meeting with you Write out the version of your personal story that your want to deliver Request the meeting
  13. 13. What is a Personal Story? • Your personal story is: • A summary (whole or in part) of what has happened to you as it relates to the issue at hand • Your perspective on the issue based on your experience, feelings, and attitudes • It is emotional • The means by which your issue comes to life • It must demonstrate how action/inaction/policy/etc. has directly impacted your life and that of the person for whom you are a caregiver
  14. 14. Basic Personal Details Your name, age, where you live Your occupation (or former occupation) Details about your family (i.e. married 19 years, 3 children, 6 grandchildren, etc.) Use the words ”I” and ”my” to tell your personal story – it’s all about you, after all
  15. 15. Facts About Your Personal Situation • For example: your diagnosis, the timing and circumstances surrounding your diagnosis (or the diagnosis of your loved-one) • Convey how you felt and/or continue to feel • This is the moment you’ll be able to firmly grab your elected representative’s attention
  16. 16. Getting Started • You start writing by starting to write • Consider one or more of the following strategies to initiate the process: • Freewriting • Listing • Using photographs • Asking questions
  17. 17. Rehearsal and Reading • Read your story out loud • Time yourself • No need to memorize • Stay focused
  18. 18. Read Your Story Out Loud • The best way to prepare to tell your story to an elected representative is to read your story out loud, alone or to a friend or family member • Practise reading alone first and then invite a friend or family member to listen to your story • Reading for an audience of even one friendly face can help alleviate any nervousness you might have about telling your story to a stranger • Ask your friend or family member to let you know if you’re reading too fast • We tend to read too fast rather than too slow when we’re nervous; practising will help regulate your pace and calm your nerves
  19. 19. Time Yourself • When you’re rehearsing your story, time yourself, or have your friend or family member time you • Stick to three minutes • Don’t rush through your story to keep to your time limit • If you find you’re way over time, you’ll need to make some revisions • If you’re significantly under three minutes, you’ll need to make some additions
  20. 20. No Need to Memorize • Your delivery doesn’t need to be perfect • In fact, we suggest that you read your story to your elected representative during the meeting if you feel more comfortable doing so • Taking the time to carefully read your story, rather than just work it into the conversation, signals to the elected representative that this is something you’ve put time, effort, and careful thought into – and that he or she should listen to you • While reading your story may interrupt the conversational flow of the meeting, that’s exactly the point – it’s part of what will make your story memorable and convincing • And because you’ve been reading your story out loud as practise, you’ll know where to emphasize certain phrases or pause for effect as you read your story to your elected representative
  21. 21. Stay Focused • As you prepare to present your story to your elected representative, stay focused on telling your story – and sticking to your script – as you will want to do when you’re actually face-to- face with your elected representative • The elected representative may interrupt you or ask a question during your story • While you don’t want to be rude by not responding immediately, it’s alright to respond by saying something like, “That’s a good question. I’ll just finish reading you what I’ve written here, and then I’ll answer it.” • If you’ve enlisted a friend or family member to help you practise telling your story, you might ask him or her to interrupt you so can rehearse this scenario – then you’ll feel confident about how you might handle a situation like this when you go into your meeting
  22. 22. 5-Minute Story Challenge • Is everything I have in my story really necessary? • Have I repeated anything? (Eliminate the repetition.) • Is the story focused on the issue? • What details are not related to the issue? (Eliminate them.) • What details do not help lead to my one “ask”? (Eliminate them.) • Do these descriptions, sentiments, or ideas really support the one “ask”? • What’s the least interesting, relevant, or engaging part of my story as it stands? (Cut those elements.)
  23. 23. Getting the Meeting ‘No’ is not an option Make an initial telephone call Have an email prepared that briefly outlines why you want to meet with your elected representative After the email goes, follow-up repeatedly until you get the meeting You may be offered a meeting with someone else – you should generally take these opportunities, but continue to pursue meeting with your actual elected representative
  24. 24. Before The Meeting Contact Contact your elected representative with just prior to confirm…and be on time Know Know how long the meeting is scheduled for (20—30 minutes) and agree on the meeting platform i.e. Zoom Gather If possible, gather knowledge about the participants Advise Advise whom you will be with, and ask for information on who will be attending with them Provide Provide any material that you want your elected representative to read ahead of time (keep it brief)
  25. 25. Who Should Attend Generally 3-4 people at the most Everyone who attends needs to have a role to play Purpose is to paint a complete picture of the issue for your elected representative, from several perspectives One combination – patient organization, physician, patient/caregiver Make sure someone takes notes and observes the dynamics in the room
  26. 26. In The Meeting Recommended Meeting Outline: • Ask whether your elected representative still has 20/30 minutes available for the virtual meeting • Introduce yourself • Explain why you are there – overall purpose/issue • Deliver your key messages • Deliver your one ‘ask’ • Share some background (core facts) about the issue • Share your personal story
  27. 27. In The Meeting Recommended Meeting Outline: • Discuss/conclude when/how your elected representative will fulfill your one ‘ask’, further engagement opportunities, next steps • Social sharing - ask if they would be willing to send out a Tweet / Facebook post about the meeting with their followers; let them know that you will be sending them draft posts to use/modify as they wish - take a screen shot • Say thank-you and book a follow-up meeting (if applicable) • Report back to your supporters
  28. 28. After The Meeting Provide any further information that your elected representative may have requested right away​ Email to thank your elected representative for meeting with you​, as well as outlining agreed upon next steps (which should include your one ‘ask’) and confirming your next meeting date (if applicable) Follow-up shortly thereafter to track progress of your agreed upon next steps and one ‘ask’
  29. 29. Some Thoughts on Meetings During a Pandemic • Conventional wisdom used to be that there is no substitute for meeting in person – gauging body language, facial expressions, small talk, etc. • But along with that went the investment in meeting face- to-face – time, distance, expense, convenience, scheduling, physical challenges for some • The pandemic has removed many of the biggest hurdles typically associated with trying to organize meetings in a physically shared space, without completely losing the ‘in person’ component • And the current necessity of staying apart physically has made these virtual meetings completely acceptable (if not preferable) for the foreseeable future
  30. 30. Advocating to Politicians • Ensure that your key messages are clear, compelling concise and consistent – with one ‘ask’ • Assume they know nothing about your issue • Find out everything you can about that person and their potential link to your issue • Where possible, link your issue to their stated political objectives or public policies • Bring your issue down to the constituency/personal level • Position your issue within the context of the election cycle • Position your issue as a political ‘win’ • Selectively engage the opposition to leverage the gov’t • Keep them informed of your engagement with the bureaucrats • Be prepared to be assertive/aggressive if necessary
  31. 31. Canadian Cancer Survivor Network Contact Info 1750 Courtwood Crescent, Suite 210 Ottawa, ON K2C 2B5 Telephone / Téléphone : 613-898-1871 E-mail: or Website: Twitter: @survivornetca Facebook: Instagram: @survivornet_ca Pinterest: