Telling Your Healthcare Story

Date and Time:
Saturday, October 31, 10:45AM-11:45AM (Boulevard room, Hilton Chicago)

Facilitator: Benjamin Day, Healthcare-NOW!

Description: Despite horrifying statistics – unnecessary deaths, medical bankruptcy, and more – people are rarely moved to action by data. We are moved to action when our personal experiences with the healthcare system violate our most basic values of what is fair and moral, and when we believe we can win change. Your most compelling story for inspiring others to act is your own story, which cannot be found in a research report or a spreadsheet. It requires reflecting on why you are moved to take action to win single-payer healthcare, zeroing in on moments when you were confronted by the healthcare system, remembering how that moment made you feel, examining the values that compelled you to take action, and explaining what happened when you did act – perhaps acting changed you as a person, or you made a difference. This workshop will introduce participants to a training developed by Marshall Gantz of the United Farmworkers (now Harvard University), which will help them inspire others to act using story-telling techniques.

Notes from Conference Participants:

BD – quick factoid – story, stats, both – who had most donations – the 7 year old – moral – story telling is the most powerful motivator – giving stats in addition undermines this – can’t just give statistics – need to mobilize – story telling is a movement building tool – stories can lead to up risings – our movement is not very good at storytelling (BLM) – HCN creating SP school next year – train to do trainings and then build – Single Payer schools – Ganz – story of self – used to train activists – about exactly this – more about they HC story you experienced and then what you did after – moving away from telling them what they ought to do and toward encouraging them – costs involved with activism – a lot of people it’s not so easy – finding courage – not by presenting statistics and facts – what led you to take a leadership role – what was your tipping point – telling story to motivate others – sharing building with Dreamer organization – (children of immigrants) – tuition, drivers licenses – they’ve been using this in every state – a lot of people don’t believe that undocumented workers have the same rights – have to think about your audience when you decide what story to share – think about their values – SM tend to win when appeal to broadly held values – briefly before I step into M. Ganz training – it is actually like 8 hours long – army of trainers – write story – keep telling it – over and over – learn process of how you can effectively tell your story – opposite of talking points messaging – panel at hearings – religious leader, labor, etc. – most boring testimony – non speak to what is is crucial to their lives – telling story is alternative to talking points – went to hearing – unmoving to legs after hearing the first time. – Police officer spoke about how part of his job was to investigate suicides – how many times people with chronic illnesses – so they do it to protect their families – better than talking points. Move away from talking points to effective story telling.

Keys to effective story telling (1–2 minutes – how much time you’ll have with press, at hearings – powerful):

1 – Challenge that you face. Why was it a challenge – what did it feel like? Highlight moments with great detail.
2 – Choice that you make. Talk about why you made the choice – how did you find the courage – where did you find hope?
3 – What was the outcome – how did it make you feel – what was the lesson – what can it teach us collectively.

Easiest way – pick one that was really important for you – I talk about why I got involved in it the first time – reflect on life – why committed to movement – what was it, what were the challenges – couldn’t sit by side lines. Some people feel like they don’t have good stories – not the horribleness that makes it compelling – making yourself vulnerable and honest that makes is compelling.

?? How does the hope fit in.

BD – if you choose to get involved in the movement, it’s because you have some hope that it can make a difference. There had to be some glimmer – so the question is how do you reach that flipping point? How did that happen? There are all sorts of ways that you can find that – what was that moment that caused me to flip and change

??? MN Nurses – lot of classes using this model – nurses have millions of these stories – elaborate on — the challenges are easy for a lot of us – loop into oodles of the bad stories

BD – think about what you’re asking your audience to do – if it’s hard to choose – think about the one that raises the choice that you are asking the audience to make – depends on what you are asking people to do I think – depends on issue and who your audience is – Talking to CEOs not the same as talking o union or activists – people who are supportive but are not active yet.

???? – let’s say you are trying to get another person to work with SP group – what is the choice and the outcome – patient I had – because of that story I signed up to be a presenter – and you should to.

BD – if you are talking to legs – you are asking form something specific too — …. It can change you as a person but it can also make external changes – talk about how it changed your experiences of your challenges.

That’s the outcome – changes how you experience your challenges and how you fight back. Before I became involved – rapid education in unfairness – rapid ed about US HC – helpful to think through those stages,

???? – they stories you are talking about – this happened to my patient – is there research that says it’s better to talk about this happened to me than someone else?

??? – more powerful to talk about yourself – Highlander Center for Education – if you can’t tell the story about yourself – not as effective

??? – Every single day – there are so many disparities—told constantly – you can’t do this – you can’t do that. My ins. Co – I needed surgery – what I had to do was – convince the hospital that I needed that surgery – since it was personal I took a personal interest – this is how I work with my consumers – come to conclusion that HC is a human right.

BD – personal stories don’t have to just be about you – stories that happen to you, but stories that are happening in your immediate life – don’t want to talk about someone you don’t know in 3rd person.

???? – Throughout process – find other patients who have same experience – spread the word and letting them know – here is a contact person – continued talking about SP and health care –

BD – HCS does isolate people and that’s how they win – other things like racism – if you are not speaking up publically they are going to win –

??? – I think in movement building – we need to attract a wide audience of activists – but people join movements for other reasons – injustice on a wider scale – we need tools for engaging people in two min

Mark P – we used personal testimony almost exclusively as part of our campaign. 3 things:
1 – difficult to argue with someone’s personal experience – policy disc. First – easy to create yes or no – can’t argue with
2 – We found that it was useful to get people to understand that they didn’t need to be health policy experts in order to talk, and that’s not true.
3 – necessary to show the totality of the brokenness of the HCS – not just those with Health Ins. – it’s my mom with decent retiree cov – disincentive to get care – part of the same fight – one isn’t more important together – string together their stories – those are part of the same fight.

BD – Doc later today – CEO struggling to cover his workers – personal story (privilege)

Jody CA – Senior advocacy – work on whole host of issues – health care if prime – important for seniors to live with dignity – reluctance to testify – don’t have enough information – not articulate enough – not able to answer policy questions – they are an expert about them – they are an expert in answering questions about what happened to them – to say this is what happened to me – no one can question the credibility or the expertness of that – the room changes when people get up to tell their stories – stats are brain numbing – it changes the entire dynamic of the hearing. Human experience that we all can relate to – I’ve seen it so many times change the conversation – all in the same room as experts – then we are all equal

BD – SP movement lead by policy experts – we need to shift that.

(passes out more papers – we will write our stories and then share them)

Jim – Seattle WA – 3 patients died inability to get meds that they needed – I give testimony for that. I said I want to do something different – people still talk about it and keep asking me to share it. Each perspective is important – made me wonder – PNHP do papers – 45 million die – HC providers need to tell about that.

BD – 10 years – work with them for years and years – only after 5 years – they tell their stories.

??? – Power of this is that it is an even playing field – evens it all up – if we don’t support their struggle (fight for 15, BLM) – I think it’s fine to tell our stories about others – the main thing is how did we feel.

BD – redoing HC website to focus on activist stories – In 2002 – school in labor ed and labor research – developed panic disorder. Thought it was a physical disorder – couldn’t work anymore – admitted to hospital – before I left the hospital – your ins. Co – not going to cover your stay – that’s where I was suddenly worried about my entire future (10,000) – it was going to bankrupt me – I uprooted and move back home to Boston – left school – got back to Boston – looking for work – Mass Care was hiring – I lived in England, but it didn’t dawn on me initially that I could do something to change this – how could I be in debt for a decision that I didn’t even make – trying to recover from a panic disorder when you may go bankrupt is very difficult – I just decided that this was what I wanted to do with my life – became my new career – I never wanted to be a victim again – I used to tel l this story – but left our panic disorder – stigma attached to mental health. But, you really have to make yourself vulnerable.
Now work on your stories for 5 – 7 minutes.

Nurse MN – what was the choice?

BD – my choice was joining the SP movement (Outcome?) – the outcome was how I decided to change my life. We don’t always make the exact right decisions.

Lisa – Convo with friend – stories and how we speak – nervous – prevents us from being true selves – learn from everything that you do – no mistakes just what happens and then what we do.

Slideshows, Photos, and Video:

Read "Why Stories Matter" by Marshall Ganz, Sojourners Magazine, March 2009.

Download Marshall Ganz's Worksheet for Telling Your Public Story.

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