Charity communications lessons from ‘Question Time’

“If you remember one thing, make it this,” said left-wing political commentator Owen Jones to conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith on ‘Question Time’ last Thursday.

“Brian McArdle, 57-years-old, paralysed down one side, blind in one eye, he couldn’t speak. Brian died one day after being found fit for work.”

That’s how Jones tackled a question on benefits.

When debating the situation in the Middle East he talked numbers.  “The deaths of 158 Palestinians, at least 30 of those children,” he offered, following quickly with “But I don’t want to just throw statistics at you.” Instead he told the audience about an 11-month-old boy called Omar, the son of a BBC journalist, killed in an air strike.

As he did so, a rare, split-second silence fell over the panel and the audience. Whatever their views on Jones’ politics, he’d got them to listen.

I think you can have the same effect on your audiences by using real life stories in your communications. People are interested in people. Let those men, women and children who benefit from your services tell others about the difference you’ve made to their lives – they’ll illustrate your impact in a tangible and interesting way.

Who knows, you could even get an MP to stop and listen.

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