Posted by Mike Smith
When you are asking something of Government – a decision, a non-decision, a policy change, that your bid win a tender process, whatever it might be – there’s a right way and a wrong way to ask it. Earlier articles identified the things you need to say, how to say them, and the things you need to avoid saying.
All of those considerations needs to be packaged up into a neat, concise, persuasive Narrative. Once you’ve got your Narrative, every single thing you say and do needs to be directed at persuading Government to accept the truth and necessity of your Narrative. Nothing should stray from or undermine the Narrative.
Many, passionate fanatics in support of their own proposition to Government, find it really hard to understand how to develop a short and focussed Narrative, but when you’re communicating with Government, you have a very small opportunity to get your message across, so you can’t spend time on the things that make your heart burst with pride – unless you already know those things do the same for Government.
In this circumstance, a Narrative:
- is never off the cuff – must be thoroughly prepared;
- must be structured like a story;
- encapsulates and summarises the main facts around the issue;
- encapsulates and summarises your proposal;
- persuades the audience your idea is the best solution to a pressing problem;
- rebuts major alternatives by making clear their inferiority;
- is focussed entirely on the audience’s needs and motivations, not yours;
- resonates with the audience – usually emotionally;
- contains an unambiguous and feasible request; and
- is short – as short as is possible while meeting all of these criteria – you might have only 2 minutes or 250 words, to make your case – our target is usually six or seven two-line sentences*.
Try to write it so you can leave behind a copy of your Narrative when you meet a Government representative – it saves them taking notes, makes you look organised and competent, and reduces the chance of misunderstanding.
You can’t deliver all of that off the cuff; nor can you deliver it if you are clumsy with words, or can’t set aside your passions when drafting or speaking, or if you are mistaken about what motivates your audience. You may need help.
* OK, we’re often enough off-target here, but never by more than 50%
Posted in Change, Communication, Government decision-making, Government Relations, how to lobby, Lobbying, Lobbyist, marketing, Project facilitation, public service decision-making, Stakeholder engagement