How to Write a Compelling Case for Change in 500 Words.

There’s a chapter in Brave Women Write on the topic of writing for purpose and impact in the workplace. It offers seven neat ways to improve your words at work.

What it doesn’t reveal is the structure I recommend to write a compelling case for change in less than 500 words.

Download the 8-Point Story Structure here and see if you can identify each point in the following story.

While this story is fictional, it’s a clear example of how to find your voice, write your story and make a brave request.

The Scenario:

Kiara is a long-term and respected employee in People & Culture at a mid-tier accounting firm. She’s been dealing with depression over the last few years after the death of her mother and a divorce. She’s learnt a lot on the subject and managed it well and also helped two friends dealing with it.

The CEO has just announced there will be a restructure and possible retrenchments. Kiara sees this as an opportunity to create a new role for herself instead of a threat that might result in her losing her job.

So, she creates a purpose statement for herself ‘To foster a mentally healthy, safe and happy workplace’ and writes a pitch to support it before presenting it to the firm’s management team.

Kiara’s Story and Pitch in Less than 500 words:

2016 was one of the toughest years of my life. It was the year I lost my mother to cancer and my husband to another woman.

Those two experiences catapulted me into a deep depression. I survived it with the support of my best friend, Maria, my psychologist, Stefano and my kind co-worker Kristy. My experience led me to read countless books and research on the subject. My depression is now under control yet I still worry that it might descend upon me at any time.

There’s been a silver lining to my cloud though. It’s led me to think about my purpose at work. I’m committed to fostering a mentally healthy, safe and happy workplace here. I want to help my peers get the support I needed but couldn’t access at work. So, I’ve come up with a plan.

The World Health Organisation estimates that 300 million people suffer from depression globally and that it costs companies $1 trillion a year in lost productivity. Our last employee survey showed that 1 in 4 of our people had time off work last year due to anxiety, stress or depression. I’ve run some figures with our CFO and he estimates mental health problems cost our company $500,000 last year.

In our company, mental health issues aren’t acknowledged, understood or discussed. We don’t provide a safe place or space for it. Our leaders do not address it, but if the stats are true, at least three of them will have a mental health problem themselves. As we are about to restructure and people will be retrenched, the problem will only escalate.

I would like to repurpose my role in People & Culture to lead the charge on this. I’ve written a job description for myself, created a first draft project plan and budget and identified the best educators and employee assistance programs on offer.

I love our company, yet I know we can do better. I want us to be the employer of choice and give our people the best chance to have a happy healthy work-life and home-life. What do you need next from me to make this decision?

 As awful as 2016 was, and as tough as the last few years have been, it’s made me a better human being and helped me realise that I am here to help others who are suffering like me. I figure, if not me, who? If not now, when?

This story is, in fact, only 407 words. The first draft was well over 800. What I removed was just as important as what remained. As my writer friend Sandy McDonald always says, ‘every word has to earn its place.’ It took four hours to write and edit.

What makes this story compelling? Is it Kiara’s vulnerability in sharing her personal story at the beginning? Is it her courage in outing a problem that management seems to have ignored? Is it the data she uses to support her case?

It’s not one thing. It’s the powerful combination of each of the 8-points.

This structure can be used for all scenarios even with your partner, kids and family. Try it out and let me know how you go.

If you’re keen to become a better, bolder writer check out the Brave Women Writers’ Circle.

Because your story matters.

With love

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Are you a woman who yearns to share your story with the world? Do you often find yourself suppressing your inner voice and waiting for that perfect day to start writing? Or perhaps you’ve begun writing and are feeling stuck? If so, the Brave Women Writers’ Circle is the right place for you.

As an experienced author, writer and educator, the Brave Women Writers’ Circle will be led and facilitated by Carolyn Tate. With only 12 places available, the 12-week program is designed to guide you in bringing your writing project to life while connecting you to a courageous community of other women writers.