In advocacy, there is a place for everyone. Every individual offers a unique set of skills and abilities that play a role in the process. Here are some of the main roles involved in the advocacy process.
Research is all about investigation, finding out why things are a certain way, how they came to be that way, and how they might be able to change. A good researcher will:
- Gather information and investigate the causes of the issue.
- Engage with a variety of people to gather perspectives, find out how people are affected by the issue, and what might be done to change this.
- Research national and local strategies, policies and documents to understand the context and socio-political environment of the issue.
- Identify relevant stakeholders, such as government departments and representatives, civil society groups and local communities.
- Identify the processes that need to be followed to engage with different stakeholders effectively.
It is important to do good, thorough research – this is the foundation of all your understanding, and it will determine many of the ways you engage throughout your project.
Speaking can take place in different contexts – you can be a speaker during a one-on-one conversation, or you can be a speaker for a big event. Speaking with people is a powerful way of sharing ideas and good speakers can be influential, inspiring people to take action in different ways. Good speakers:
- Understand their topic well and are passionate about it, giving a strong sense of purpose and importance.
- Are good storytellers – they have an interesting, personal story to share, express this simply, and paint a clear picture that people can identify with.
- Are able to connect with other people, listening to questions and engaging to share opinions and ideas.
Good speakers are often associated with people who have strong, out-going personalities, which is not always true. Good speakers are confident, they come across as presentable, intelligent, credible, authentic and believable. This can mean different things to different people, so it doesn’t matter if you are extroverted or introverted, the principles of being a good speaker are the same.
It’s also important to remember that people speak different languages. You might have to speak in a language that is not your mother tongue, or you might have to communicate with people who speak differently to you. Being a good speaker does not mean that you are perfect in the language, but rather, that you have an ability to connect with people to convey an important idea.
Written word is one of the most powerful ways of communicating with people. Good writing connects things – ideas, concepts, realities – and it helps to tell a story that people can connect to. Good writing has the following:
- Strong content: a compelling subject that attracts people to read it, is grounded in facts and data, and enables readers to make a personal connection to it;
- Focus: a logical flow that presents ideas and concepts clearly, allowing the story to develop naturally;
- Precise language: use of language that is simple, understandable and appropriate to the audience; and
- Good grammar: grammar helps writing to flow, to be engaging, and to ensure ideas are communicated clearly and is well edited.
Writing is all about telling a story, whether it is for a letter, a report, a press release or an advertisement. At many stages of the advocacy process, a good writer is needed to help communicate ideas clearly and build support for your project. Good writing can be hard, especially if you are not writing in your home language or are trying to write for a more formal audience. Don’t worry, writing improves with practice and as long as you remain focused on your key story and your key ideas, the words will start to follow.
An implementer is someone who likes to get things done, someone who likes to be involved in things and get their hands dirty. A good implementer will:
- Be organised and efficient and make plans to ensure that work is completed on time and done to best of their ability.
- Identify different activities they might be able to get involved in.
- Develop a plan for how to engage in different activities and work with other people to put this plan into action.
- Communicate with a range of stakeholders, arrange meetings, and organise events.
An implementer is someone who is not afraid of getting stuck into the work and they take a very hands-on approach to getting things done. They have an important role to play throughout the advocacy process, helping to move activities along in a systematic way.
Which of these roles do you identify with the most? No matter if you are a researcher, writer, speaker or implementer, we all have to do research. Learn more about desktop research!