Power phrases at the RESULTS International Conference

31 Jul 2017

Hannah Lathan is a campaigner with the Oxford RESULTS Group and has just attended the RESULTS International Conference (22-25 July) in Washington DC for the first time.

Power words and phrases have the ability to move others to listen, remember and take notes better. This is something that is easily integrated into our advocacy work. During my time at the RESULTS International Conference last week, I noticed that my notebook was unintentionally full of quotes of these power phrases and checklists. On twitter, the conference hashtag #voices4RESULTS also illustrates how much easier it is when power phrases are used to quickly take short notes and tweet them out. Look at these two sentences and imagine you’re listening to an individual talking about why we need RESULTS and the importance of advocacy:

  1. 'We hope that people will start to think about what they can do in order to make changes'
  2. 'We need a citizen uprising!'

Now which quote would make you stop and think? As advocates, we need to gain people’s attention and get them thinking about the issue. Powerful and straightforward sentences are remembered, and they get attention. For example, you can start a single powerful sentence with ‘The most urgent issue we currently face is’ or ‘ The single most important issue today is’. These power phrases make you more influential, more memorable, and more important. They can be an excellent way to give key information to someone like your MP.

Secondly have a look at these two small paragraphs, again imagine you are listening to someone explain what we need to do in order to make a change.

  1. 'We really need to determine our goals which we can then work backwards from making sure there is a clear difference between the objective and those goals. But what you must understand is that in order for people to remember what's happening it can take that person 7 times of seeing or hearing something. We must, however, make sure that we tactically drive people while being the face of hope for somebody.'
  2. 'I'm going to tell you 5 things:
    1. Determine end goals and work backwards
    2. Keep a clear difference between goals and objectives
    3. Understand it will take people 7 times of hearing or seeing something to remember it
    4. Drive individuals in a tactical way
    5. Be the face of hope for someone.'

Most people would agree that the second way of saying the same thing is much easier to follow and take notes. When talking to MPs or simply with people about RESULTS, we should be going into meetings to be remembered. Utilising this method of power phases, key motivating words and checklists are a straightforward way to do so, and the International Conference has shown me that this is what gets remembered. It’s what gets written down in my notebook, and it’s what gets tweeted and quoted. 

Naveed Chaudhri

Head of Campaigns

Naveed Chaudhri is the Head of Campaigns. Naveed’s passion is to help build grassroots campaigns networks to increase public support for improving the lives of people in poor communities. Previously working at Oxfam and VSO, he has long experience managing activism and campaigning programmes,...

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