5 Self-care Tips for Advocates Telling Their Personal Stories


Speaking out frequently as a public advocate for a cause that you hold dear is rewarding, empowering ... and it can be exhausting. And when part of your advocacy involves sharing your personal story publicly, that exhaustion can be emotional and psychological as well as physical.

Here are 5 important tips advocates have shared with us for taking care when you're speaking out regularly and staying healthy for the long run.

Take Care to be at Your Best

1. Know your support community. Identify family members, friends, colleagues and other advocates you can call on before or after you speak to help you process your experience, provide support and encouragement, keep you focused on your goals ... and remind you to take care of yourself.

2. Take control of your environment. As you prepare to speak or when traveling to speaking locations, create and maintain the environment you need to stay healthy. This may include keeping to your daily routine, bringing along your own food or snacks, carefully scheduling personal time and space before and after speaking, and letting others—such as your hosts—know that doing so is important to you.

3. Rest. Schedule the time you need to be well-rested prior to speaking as well as adequate time to rest and recuperate afterwards.

4. Take physical care. Public speaking is a full-body experience that requires you to train, warm-up and cool-down—just as you would for other physical activities. Focus on your breathing, stretch and relax before and after speaking, and avoid foods and beverages that may affect your voice (like chocolate or milk) or concentration (like caffeine or alcohol).

Take Care in the Long-run

You can never predict how or when your story will influence someone or when your advocacy will have an impact. It may happen as a result of a conversation you have with someone right after you speak ... or years later. 

That's important to remember because it’s easy to lose steam or worry whether telling your story really, truly, can make a difference. (It can.)

5. Take a break from advocacy if you find yourself becoming weary, and allow yourself time to reflect and refresh. If your passion to make a difference drives you to say “yes” to every speaking opportunity, remember that your health comes first. Allow yourself the time you need to rest and recuperate.

For more suggestions on preparing physically and psychologically, see “Public Speaking: Tips and Tools” in Living Proof: Telling Your Story to Make a Difference.

Take care!

Teen advocate? 50+ advocate? We want to hear from you.


What does advocating with your personal story look like when you’re a teen? When you’re in your fifties, sixties, seventies and beyond?

Like so many others, I’ve been moved and motivated over the past months by high school students around the nation who’ve made the choice to stand up, speak out and share their lived experiences to create change, whether that change is stricter gun control, better mental health care or other important causes.

And over the past few weeks, I’ve also been inspired by the “50 over 50 List,” a roundup of Minnesotans 50+ who are doing amazing things. The list is compiled annually by AARP Minnesota and Pollen Midwest, and I can’t help notice how many of these individuals landed on the list, in part, by sharing their personal stories in order to advocate for the causes they passionately believe in.

Reflecting on generational stories and advocacy got a few of us at Living Proof Advocacy wondering: How does the experience of sharing a personal story for advocacy differ for someone 17, 30, 45 or 79? Tell us what you think: If you’re a teen advocate or someone 50+ who is telling your story to make a difference, contact us. We’re working with author Bev Bachel on an article about this topic and would love to hear your experiences and insights.

Contact us to be interviewed.

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In this issue: Are you 50+ advocate who is telling your story to make a difference? Contact us to be interviewed for an upcoming article.

The Living Proof Advocacy email newsletter, which contains updates on the latest events and workshops as well as inspirational stories from advocates who are making a difference with their personal stories, is sent approximately 3-4 times a year. 


Announcing Coaching Certification from Living Proof Advocacy


Tim Cage and John Capecci, co-founders of Living Proof Advocacy™, are delighted to launch the Living Proof Advocacy Coaching Certification program. Developed and honed over nearly 20 years of working with thousands of advocates and hundreds of organizations, the Living Proof Advocacy methods, principles and tools are now available to coaches, trainers and instructors who want to help others tap the persuasive power of their personal stories. 

Coaching certification is ideal for

  • professional trainers who want added expertise in the area of story + advocacy
  • organizational staff who are responsible for mobilizing advocates

Certification is delivered in 2-day regional trainings led by Tim and/or John. The 2018 training is scheduled for November 17-18 in Minneapolis. Additional trainings may be offered to accommodate schedules and locations. Read more and contact us for details!

Sign Up for a 2018 Workshop

Telling Your Story to Make a Difference: Fundamentals

A two-day workshop offered three times in 2018 —

April 20-21, Minneapolis

July 27-28, Minneapolis

November 30-December 1, Minneapolis

These highly interactive and individualized workshops focus on personal storytelling for advocacy and are delivered through discussion, tips and tools, plus in-class exercises followed by immediate feedback and encouragement. Participants learn how to find, focus, frame, craft and tell personal stories to become better advocates for the difference they want to make in their community and in the world.

Friday, 2:00-6:00p

Saturday, 10:00-4:00p

For more information:

VISIT: livingproofadvocacy.bpt.me

EMAIL: info@livingproofadvocacy.com

CALL: 612.512.1177

Why "Pointing to the Positive" Can be Tough

"Pointing to the positive" is one of The 5 Qualities of Well-Told Advocacy Story and it serves as one of the most important foundations of the Living Proof Advocacy approach. Sometimes, it's also one of the most difficult qualities for storytelling advocates to achieve ... for two perfectly understandable reasons:


1. Advocacy aims to solve a problem. Personal stories help make others aware of that problem and understand the severity of it. It's easy to let your storytelling focus primarily on the problem ... because that's what you want desperately to change and enlist others to help solve.

2. The personal stories that led you to advocacy often arise from places of anger, pain, even trauma and loss. Those experiences remain ever-present and likely are at the core of why you speak out. So, it's easy to let your storytelling dwell in the darkness.

But "pointing to the positive" doesn't mean denying the darkness or sugar-coating your experience; it means finding the balance between negative and positive ... and working to favor personal storytelling that demonstrates the positive change for which you're advocating. Why?

Because dwelling on the negative is human nature—not just for those of us telling stories, but for those of us receiving them. Studies have shown repeatedly that the brain is drawn to negative stories and it is often the negative that remains firmly in our memories. As an advocate, you want to move audiences to positive action, not leave them with only an understanding of the problem or the pain. An analysis of 60 health communication studies, for example, showed that stories focusing on loss were less likely to be effective than positive messages.

It's a tough balance to strike, most definitely. But "pointing to the positive" remains a critical quality of the well-told advocacy story, ensuring that you leave audiences with the hope that problems can be solved and the living proof that darkness truly can give way to light.