Taking the plunge and diving in

Last month I spent some time in Prague running an advocacy workshop for an alliance of international NGOs based across Europe.

After taking stock of progress made and lessons learnt to date, we brainstormed future advocacy priorities. Having developed a long list, we then agreed selection criteria to help us to prioritise these advocacy issues. By the end of the first day, there was a growing consensus on one issue – so far so good. 

At the start of the second day, we took this one issue and I suggested that we broke into groups to work on an elevator pitch for this issue – the simple idea of how one might use 15-30 seconds to pitch your issue to a target if you were to encounter them in an elevator.

I was interested to see the level of opposition to doing this exercise. The refrain was ‘we don’t know enough about this issue to do such a pitch. We need more time to develop our key facts.’ I asked them to indulge me and they kindly did so, but then engaged in some great conversations on their pitch. After a half an hour, I asked them to deliver their group pitches. All the pitches were excellent with a compelling and urgent message. Yes, they needed more work and more refining, but they had shown that there was a basic, simple, and yet compelling, message.

This exercise seemed to energise the group. It had pushed them out of their comfort zone to develop such a pitch, but in doing so they had begun to make their issue real. And from this exercise we developed our action plan on this issue.

Sometimes you just have to take the plunge and dive in. You will never have all the facts and all the evidence, but sometimes just by getting started you can get a pretty quick feel as to whether your issue can grow legs and really take off as a campaign.

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