Patient Advocacy Toolkit: Practical Tools

How you present your information is vital to efficiently grabbing attention of your audience

Cover Letter for authorities

  • Be sure to use the proper form of address and correct spelling of the authority's name and function
  • Remember to identify yourself as a constituent
  • Identify yourself as a patient advocate/ public health professional, in the text of your letter
  • Short letters are best (one page). Don't use jargon or confusing technical terms
  • Concentrate on a single issue
  • Include data and references supporting your request (make sure they are accurate)
  • If your legislator/health authority helps you by supporting a public health issue, write and thank him/her. Communicate about it via Twitter, the media, etc.
  • This will create further goodwill for future contacts
  • Download a sample email here (Word)
  • Download a sample letter here (Word)

PowerPoint presentation

  • Use key messages
  • Include only essential information
  • Limit the number of words on each screen. Try not to use more than four bullet points per slide
  • Put most important message up front
  • Avoid jargon and overly complex illustrations/data tables, etc

Speaking in public

  • Write notes in a large font (bullet points), not a full speech which you will be tempted to read out
  • Know more about your material than you include in your speech
  • Use humour, personal stories and conversational language
  • Practice: rehearse out loud, emphasise key messages, find the right flow and speed, articulate (don't mumble). Breathe!

Information kit

  • Your information kit (presented in a folder or USB key) should contain:
  • Your business card
  • A cover letter
  • A brochure
  • Your press release/PowerPoint presentation in a handout format
  • Your mission and history
  • Facts, figures and useful links
  • Biographies of key spokespersons

Letters to the Editor

  • Letters to the Editor should be short (around 150 words)
  • Before writing a letter, check the publication's website to see if they recommend word counts or have useful guidelines
  • Do your homework: have other letters been written on the topic? What else can you add with yours?
  • Know your audience. Use simple language. Avoid jargon. Talk about yourself in connection to the issue

Download the complete Rare Cancers Europe Patient Advocacy Toolkit