Power of public speaking and youth voice when communicating our efforts, vision, and concerns to stakeholders.
Elements in Advocacy Training (students can work with any or all of these)
A People for Climate Action city-group, potentially the city-group nearest you, can be a great resource for helping you learn the background needed for you to design effective testimony, and for you to find out about upcoming moments when your testimony can make a difference.
Learn what policy options look like, and understand how your actions fit with them:
Examine a document such as the K4C letter, the King County “Climate Action Toolkit” (when available), or PCA’s “Climate Action Priorities for Cities” list. Get a sense of what’s in it, then from the list of action areas or actions, identify an action (policy) that relates to your own steps to decreasing your carbon footprint or water footprint. Take some time to describe to others how your individual actions relate to actions (policies) that your school, your city, or the county can take. How could a policy change make it easy for many people to take the action(s) you’re taking?
Increase your awareness of key moments to speak up:
It makes a difference to know when to speak to your school board, city council, county council, or similar body because it needs to be when they are discussing choices that affect sustainability and/or climate action. These are moments when your thoughtful, heartfelt testimony or speech can make a difference, sometimes with plenty of advance notice, but often with fairly short notice. What steps can you take to be alerted to such moments? For example, you could choose among these steps: check certain websites weekly; sign up to receive alerts, for example, from your city government; work with fellow students to keep one another informed; and/or stay in touch with someone from People for Climate Action so you can be alerted to these opportunities. What might you do so you can grab these speaking opportunities (or support other students who decide to step up to speak), when they come along?
Practice giving a short piece of testimony:
The idea here is to use the support of other students, watch example recordings of student testimony, and/or use the support of a coach to practice or give a speech. (You can also practice/send a testimony-style email--sometimes email is a very appropriate medium.) The guidelines are to:
Stay within a chosen time limit/length, usually 2 minutes or 3 minutes. (Time yourself when you practice.)
Base your speech on the specifics of a real or example situation where you might speak to a school group, school board, city council, county council, or other group. You will be in or will imagine, a specific moment when you have a clear opportunity to request an action or influence decisions. The context helps you shape what you are asking for, and other elements of the speech.
Express gratitude, if possible for a specific action of those you are addressing.
Bring your personal experience, your concerns, your passions into the speech.
Look for ways to let your gestures and delivery strengthen your message.
Speak to the specifics of your real or example situation. Bring in carefully selected observations or facts (not too many) that strengthen your message.
State what you are asking for in a clear, effective way, probably at several points, but certainly at the end.
Practice and feedback can help you give an effective speech!
“As a Sustainability Ambassador, I have had many opportunities to share my voice in front of important stakeholders. I have spoken to both the King County Council and the Bellevue City Council to demonstrate the importance of taking local climate action for collective impact. These testimonies have contributed to the development of a Climate Action Toolkit. Sharing my personal stories and concerns with my council members has been incredibly empowering and has shown me the importance of youth in decision-making processes.”