MLH Coordinator Portal

CHD Awareness Telling Your Story

 

Many of us have been through a lot in our journey with congenital heart defects. I have often heard,  “I could write a book.”  However, most of the time, when we are asked to tell our story, we cannot give that much information.  We have to find a way to get our message across in a limited amount of time.

Whether writing an email, making a phone call, doing a radio or television interview or meeting your legislator face‐to‐face, your story is the most powerful tool you have. It is important to develop this story 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.  First, introduce yourself to the audience.  Then, 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.  At the end, you want to be sure to give contact information for your group.

The following tips should be considered as you work on your story:

  • Adjust the length as needed.  It may be helpful to have a couple of stories of different lengths for different purposes.  You will want to time your story to make sure it is not too long.
    • A 30‐second “elevator speech” for a quick email or meeting
    • A 1 to 2‐minute interview story with powerful sound bites or messages
    • A longer story if you will be giving a speech or presentation
  • Be clear ‐ use plain words and avoid medical jargon.  Most people don’t even know “CHD.”
  • Stay on message – make sure to accurately represent the views of Mended Little Hearts
  • Tailor your story to the particular situation or message you are trying to get across.
  • Speak from the heart and talk about your experience.  Be accurate, honest and persuasive.
  • Avoid relying on statistics—stories make the statistics come to life and stick.
  • Be polite, respectful, patient and grateful, even if the interviewer is making you angry.
  • 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.

If you have questions or would like to share your story with MLH for future awareness and advocacy
activities, please email your story to  advocacy@mendedlittlehearts.org or call (608) 370‐3739.