How to Tell a Compelling Story

Legislators see data, graphs and spreadsheets all day but true stories from constituents drive action. Real life drama is more interesting than cold statistics and with one compelling story legislators no longer see the data and reports, they associate people with an issue. And no matter their position on the issue they feel an obligation to their constituent: either to help or explain why they cannot. Most legislators are interested in getting feedback from their constituents.

Why are your stories important? Because you have professional insight that must be shared with lawmakers and the work you do is more and more affected by government regulations, legislation and special interest groups.

So how do you tell a compelling story? Below are the building blocks for telling a compelling story, whether you are meeting with your legislator in his or her office, run into them at a social event or even the grocery store:

  • Consider the end goal, know how you want the listener to feel at the conclusion of your story.
  • Set the stage and establish what’s at stake.
  • Paint a picture and use impactful words describing how you felt and what you saw.
  • Identify the struggles-whether emotional, financial, physical, etc. When possible, identify who is behind an issue and who is opposed to it. Legislators love to help an underdog.
  • Explain what you learned from your struggle and describe how it has impacted your life, your patients’ lives, your ability to practice and your future.
  • Talk about how success will enhance your practice and patient care. Finish with a strong line that will remain in the lawmaker’s mind.

A shorter story (500 words or less, or 3-4 minutes) is easier for a legislator to remember. Remember that a well-crafted story is potentially the most powerful type of information you can share and that often times, legislators will recite your story to other legislators when they are championing your cause. Always be polite and always tell the truth.

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