What We’re Reading: Living Proof

Are you a Health Center advocate looking for more additions to your summer reading list? We’ve got just the book for you! Pick up a copy of Living Proof: Telling Your Story to Make a Difference by John Capecci and Timothy Cage and learn how to hone your advocacy storytelling skills to deliver an effective, impactful message.

Broken into two parts, the first ten chapters of the book focus on the preparation that goes into telling your story, and the last four chapters provide guidance around the delivery of your message. Each chapter ends with an exercise that helps strengthen the skills that are essential for good advocates and spokespeople.

Capecci and Cage begin by explaining how organizlivingproofpications and advocates use stories, and when and why they work. Regardless of the motivation behind the story (to raise awareness, mobilize people, raise money, etc.), people “tell their stories because they believe they can help others and make a difference,” and good stories move people “from apathy to empathy to action.”

NACHC’s grassroots network is tens of thousands of advocates strong, and our goal is to reach 100,000 advocates by the end of August—see our 100K in 100 Days campaign for more information. No matter what your connection to the Health Center movement—whether you are a board member, clinician, outreach worker, patient, or community member—each and every advocate has a unique story to tell. And there is nothing more impactful and empowering than doing just that!

In the past, NACHC has asked advocates to tell their story through a particular lens: how the Health Center Funding Cliff would impact the center and its patients, what the center has been able to accomplish with various grants and other investments, how Health Centers innovate in the health care space, etc. No matter what the angle, Capecci and Cage tell us that the well-told advocacy story strikes a balance between “raw” and “canned”, and has the following five qualities:

  • Advocacy stories are focused. The reason for telling your story can change with the audience; link your stories to your goals for that particular telling.
  • Advocacy stories point to the positive. Most stories center around a change (i.e. sickness to health, an infusion of resources); make sure your story highlights a positive change.
  • Advocacy stories are crafted. Crafted in this case doesn’t mean fake, it means deliberate. Make sure you give thought to your story in terms of the order of things and language/word choice.
  • Advocacy stories are framed. You cannot just tell your story in a vacuum and leave your audience to decide the purpose. Framing your story ensures that it, and you, are received as you intended.
  • Advocacy stories are practiced. Here, practiced does not mean rehearsed to the point of being canned. It means that you have found your natural speaking style that conveys confidence and is genuine.

The authors guide readers through a deeper dive into each of these qualities, and include stories of advocates, from a variety of organizations and causes, who have mastered them. Once you’ve worked on your own story, Capecci and Cage provide examples of where your story can lead, and how to tackle the actual telling of your story with tips and tricks on public speaking.

In addition to serving as a great resource to help good advocates become great advocates, Living Proof will likely help remind all those involved with Community Health Centers why we do what we do, and that we are part of a larger movement with a rich, 50-year history that will continue long into the future.

Living Proof is available on Amazon.com (click here). If you have thoughts or questions for us about advocacy as you read this book, feel free to leave your comments here or email us at grassroots@nachc.com!

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