Spring 2017 ♦ Advocacy 101 - USC Lecture Excerpts

By Ian Slade, HIMSS CAR Vice Chair Western Region

Recently I had an opportunity to speak to freshmen students at the USC School of Pharmacy. The lecture was part of a three-piece Advocacy session aimed at providing an overview of why Advocacy matters and how the students can get involved.

Getting Ready for the Lecture

Usually, we have the most fun in the mock legislative visit where two groups attempt to sway the legislative staff to opposing points of view. This time, the conversation was immersed in the following slide:


For close to half an hour, we discussed what to do when you find yourself in a crucial conversation when you are advocating for a topic that you are passionate about. While I don’t have the latitude to cover all the points, I will try to hit on the top three.

  1. Know your own tendencies when you find yourself emotionally charged in a conversation. There are two ways people typically react - either they become aggressive (lean towards violence) or they retreat (move towards silence). What do you typically do? Once you know, be more conscious of early signs. Do you tend to talk faster and louder? Or, do you just withdraw from the conversation altogether? Knowing how you react is the first step to better navigate crucial conversations.
  2. Are you in the conversation to be right or to do what is right? The problem with being emotionally invested in an issue is that you tend to push your agenda too hard without regard for how the message is being received. Unless you can articulate both sides of the story and point out areas of commonality, chances are you will leave the table without accomplishing much.
  3. Statistics and numbers aren’t significant unless you package it in a meaningful story. Let’s say you are advocating for better healthcare for Veterans. Only showing charts and graphs will not resonate with the office to whom you are presenting. Find a face, a name, or a story that will add color to your text. People forget what you say, but they remember how you make them feel. Nothing evokes more emotion than a good story.

I hope these pointers will help you in your advocacy. Now, go out and be heard!

Mock Legislative Visit with the Students

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