ECPO 2019: Storytelling session Plenary session Anna Citarrella JJ Vicki MooneyECPO


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Thank you. So I think that what we are going to discover now is perfectly linked with what we have discussed today, you know. And I took some notes today because I heard that obesity is a disease, it’s a complex disease, it’s not only about learning the content, it’s learning about the people.

And also, last but not least, Tina mentioned that the story never took fire, mentioning the story of the lady that was with you at the TV show, you know, do you remember? Yes. So, and all this makes sense to me because it’s strongly linked with what we are doing right now, so why should we learn how to do storytelling? Because we need to tell a story about a complex disease, because we are going to tell about people and content, so the aim is to have both people and content represented. And because we want the story to fire, so that’s why we want to do it.

And the way we will do it right now is to go through a couple of information learnings and tips and tricks that we have experienced, and when I say we, I’m not mentioning J&J, but we as communicators, and that we put into life every time that we have to approach a topic, we have to approach an audience. And obviously, it’s about exploring and practice, because a story should be explored, it should be built, we need to create it, and then we go to practice, so we need to put into something concrete and every day practice according to the different audiences. And why stories are important? Because we remember them, and I think that each of us has a favourite book.

What’s your favourite book, Harry Potter? I’m on the Harry side, and probably the Hobbit, but I’m going to go with the Hobbit. And why do you remember the story, why do you like them? It’s captivating, and it did deepen me. I felt sorry for some of the characters, and I felt empowered, and I got excited with them, and I went on a whole journey with them.

Exactly. So why do we have favourite books? Why do we have favourite movies? For example, my favourite movie is The Way We Were, with Barbara Streisand and Robert Redford, and obviously Robert Redford and Hanson, so maybe it’s because of that, but I don’t think it’s just because of that, I think it’s because there’s a story behind. And I keep watching this movie, and I always like it, because there is a big story behind it.

So stories make you passionate, stories make you travel to different environments, to different places, and it helps you to discover new people, new scenarios. So now, with all that we have discussed today, there is a lot to tell about you, about us, about what we do together, so I think the story can help us to achieve this. And it’s important to mention something that we mentioned today, it’s about learning about content and people.

And why? Because obviously each of us has an emotional side and a rational side. And a story is successful when you can balance the two areas. You can touch the emotion, but you can also put the rational proof points behind it.

A pure emotional story doesn’t succeed. And a poor rational story is not a story. So this is why it’s important that we balance the two.

And also what is important is that everyone has a story in his mind. But we need to tell the story to someone else. So we need to engage the people in our story.

So it’s not just about what we want to say, but how what we want to say engages the others and we get an action from this. So this is why we say we need to spark emotion, we need to make sense of things. And this is linked to something that we just discussed.

We need to make sense about what obesity is, being obese is concretely, not just about assuming or taking for granted that people know about this. We need to make a real concrete sense. I think it’s not actually, when we look at this, right, if you look at this slide, it’s showing you effectively your story as a person who has, whether it is about obesity or diabetes type 1 and type 2, anything that you’ve been in your life, that your story when you present it to somebody, you’re taking them on your journey, on your journey.

So it is your story of you want to spark the emotion with them. You want to help make sense for them so they can understand what it was like for you and then you’re helping to teach them what it was like and you’re inspiring them to go out and to do work around that area. So this is really a roadmap of what we do as people who want to present in the Royal Rhinestone.

Excellent. And by the way, it doesn’t work only when we have to be professional. By the way, this can work also with your family, husband, wife, sister, brother, so it’s something that goes beyond also the professional part of our role.

And just to put some principles around these aspirations, which are the some principles. The first is awareness. So we need to know that when we start a story, we know the story, but the others, they don’t know.

So be aware that they are not aware of what we are saying. So the journalist is not aware, so we are aware, but he or she is not aware. So we need to bring him or her with us.

The second is logic. So there has to be consistency. There is a flow.

We cannot jump up and down. Let’s find, it’s not important the number of topics. I would prefer to have one topic and be consistent and have logic instead of jumping up and down.

And we need to enable people to follow us. So the more we have consistency, the better it is, so that they can have this journey with us, as you mentioned. And then focus.

So there are a lot of details. Today when we had the obesity session at the beginning, he shared with us a lot of information. Really, really great.

Different perspectives, different angles. But sometimes when we have to approach topics that are complex and when we want to reach a goal, we need to focus on which are the details that really make the change in the learning and in the awareness of people. So let’s be a little bit selective.

And details, let’s add the details that really make the story relevant. Tina mentioned they get a lot of stories. Why should I pick yours? Maybe the details can help to make this choice, because these details can help them to immediately open their mind and say, wow, this could be nice.

So maybe we’ll select the information that we want to achieve. And then also maybe consistency in the way we tell them the story and the level of information that we give, but the details that can really start into the mind. And the sequence that I said before, so don’t jump up and down.

Let’s have a flow. Let’s start and then go to the end. And last but not least, let’s be humble.

So we need a story to be told in the right way. It should be rehearsed. It should be prepared.

It should be written. And maybe checked by someone else. Check your story with someone that is not in your environment.

Take the perspective of someone else that can say, oh, what are you saying? Or I don’t understand this word. Maybe it’s too scientific. It’s a jargon.

It’s something that doesn’t resonate with me. So let’s be humble and not think that everyone can easily understand and that it doesn’t take time to get where we want. We need to invest a little bit of time to be storyteller.

So I think if you take all of these principles, like I know myself as a patient who lives with obesity, I take these principles and I put them into my own story. I also have to remember that when we say rehearse your story and that, it almost makes it seem as if we’re saying, oh, you’re practicing a stage play or something. You’re not.

This is effectively your story of your entire life, right? And your obesity is not the same as my obesity. I doubt there’s two of us alike in the room that we are on the same exact journey with our obesity. So as was said earlier, you own your own story.

You take these principles and you identify the areas that you feel you’ll be able to work Yeah, you said right. Each of you is a different story. Each of you is a different leader at different angles.

And we need to enable people to understand these differences. So it takes time to make a difference. And it’s common that people say, obese people, you know, like when they say women, women are like fashion or women can’t drive the car, you know, they group of people or men cannot be multitasking, you know, and I’m looking at you, but it’s not about you.

It’s just because you’re my partner in crime, you know, but he can be multitasking, he’s an exception. So take for granted that sometimes people make generic assumptions. And so the fact that we can run the story and can help them to go to the story can help them to understand and us to be a little bit more successful.

And Tina already mentioned the fact that we need to have a little bit of structure, you know, start at the middle, the end. And I think that it’s important that we understand that it’s important that when we are approaching something new, a journalist, an audience, or when we are approaching someone that doesn’t know about the story, we can help them to keep track and they can come with us in the journey. So these are four principles, the beginning, so let’s set up and prep in the audience what we want to say, how we want to engage them since the beginning, what can be useful to be catchy for them.

And the starting point is always a really important moment, because you’ve got the attention of people. Then you have to figure the attention, so you need to go to the predicament, the middle, tell what’s about, give more details, expand the story a little bit, details, facts, figures, personal comments, personal details, experience of your life. The climax, so the action, what changed, what was the game changer, what was the fact that completely turned the story into a different way, or where you played the game, what made things changing.

And last but not least the resolution. Every story has to have an end. We cannot have a story that drops down without an end.

And it links back to the beginning. So there has to be consistency. We need to create a journey, and this journey has four steps.

And it’s not about having a big story, a big topic, but it’s how you tell the story and how you articulate it that make the difference using a little bit of structure. So I think when we started out as a patient council, if I’m right, I’m looking at Melissa Ken and Carlos Solveig, and so Christina, some of the team that were there in the very, very beginning. As patients, we were never given any kind of order of how we do this.

So we kind of went down to the big, bad world in Europe of obesity and got trashed around a little bit because we had no guideline. We didn’t have any of this. We didn’t realise that we could actually have a structure to how we tell our story and how we present ourselves.

So I think this guideline is something that we can all take home and take to our own organisations and say, so if you’re presenting, if you’re telling your story and using the skills that Tina has given us this morning, this is a good guide to how we do it. And effectively, the beginning, the middle, the climax and the resolution just really encapsulates your story very, very simply. And from that, then you can manage it as a bigger story.

And any comments, questions so far? Do you think that it’s useful? Yeah, it’s useful. Good. We’re going to actually in the next session break out into work groups where we’ll be doing storytelling.

And I mentioned to Anna earlier, I don’t think it’s fair to break people into groups and expect them to bare their soul of their own story. So I’m going to do mine first, which I think will help break the ice into how I do my own story, how I would present, with Anna’s guidance, and then we can begin. So you’re not on your own.

You’re really not on your own. And why it’s important to create emotion to get the emotion and link the emotion to the rational. Because when you tell a story, the words, the voice and the body are important.

And this is obviously if you’re presenting. But also if you’re not. Tina mentioned that she was smiling when she was on the radio, although she was aware that no one was looking at her.

Why? Because people can hear, can feel that she was smiling. And so the mix of these things can help you to be successful. So if you don’t have the right voice or you don’t have the right world or you don’t have the right posture if you are external, but also when you are on the radio or if you are doing something remotely, all these have an impact on the quality of the story and the way you are transmitting it in the right way.

And I think what’s really brilliant there, can you see the 7% is the key words and the phrases? So a lot of us get very caught up in delivering our presentation story on having the words exactly correct. And I’ve come off stage many times and said, oh my God, I forgot all of the words I was supposed to say, and they all came up backwards. And I said obese instead of living with obesity.

And nobody noticed because they noticed everything else. So a lot of what we put emphasis on, which is having the correct terminology, the correct language, the science, the data, all of that, when we are presenting our story and you are working with emotion and you are trying to capture the audience, effectively all of this on the bottom is really what’s coming across because you are pulling people in. And the words they don’t notice if you mix up a bit.

And if I can give you a suggestion, this is something that we generally do and I’m currently doing. If you have the opportunity, record yourself so that you can listen back to you. And you hear yourself in a different perspective or record with iPhone, someone that can help you.

Because this helps you to look at yourself and understand what you can do better. You will recognize by yourself. It’s not needed that someone else point out oh, you are not doing the right thing or you are using your hands too much like the Italians do and like I’m doing right now.

But this is something that helps. And there is always area of improvement. I constantly do it.

Also because when you change the audience, it’s different. I can tell you it’s different. If you are in front of people that have never experienced something like you are experiencing, if you have kids in front of you, if you have the parents in front of you.

So the messages are different. And also the way that the audience is reacting makes your speech or your story different. Because there is a reaction that you see, that you feel when you tell a story.

So this is something that can help. And above all when you have to speak maybe also a language that is your native language. So maybe you have to do something in English and you are not English mother tongue.

And I think that’s a really good point because we are a European organization and we have so many people who aren’t speaking in their mother tongue. And I think the one thing that you do at the very beginning of your presentation, it’s always really helpful to say I know as being an Irish person I have to slow down. Because otherwise I would speak like this and nobody would understand what I was trying to say.

So I know I have to slow myself down and I’m constantly aware of it. But because I’m speaking in English and that’s my mother tongue, I don’t have a problem with saying, it will say Dominique or Mariosa. If I were you I would probably be saying so I’m speaking in English, it’s not my mother tongue, so I’m going to go as slowly as I can so that you can actually understand me.

And that makes your audience aware in things you are not comfortable as well. And there is no issue in saying that. It’s really important, right? Yeah, and also admit the fact that if you are not a native speaker, this is not an issue.

The accent is recognisable, this is not a problem. Or the fact that you are not fluent, this is not a problem. Because people know that you are not a native speaker.

But maybe if you can rehearse and prepare, this will overcome the problem of not being a native speaker. And now we jump just into this, because I think that if we want to be prepared, maybe the message mapping could be a right way to do it. And what is message map? So it’s the structured way of diffusing messages that can help to convey the right message, that can help us to be prepared and to structure and to find the gaps.

Maybe if we structure our message, we find out that there is something missing, I miss the data, I miss the source, so I miss the quote of someone, so it’s important that it helps us also to be prepared the right way and mitigate the risk. Because when you speak on behalf of your association, on behalf of ECBO, you are positioning an organisation, so you need to be careful that what you say can be also attacked if it’s not well proofed, well sourced. The message map can help you to have really facts that are basically credible and that you can have references.

And in the relationship with journalism, mentioning what Anne-Sophie said, having references, having sources, it’s helpful because you can link it to something that is credible. It’s not my opinion, it’s scientific based. And so the message map, and this is just something to say that it’s not just a trick, it’s something that is a science based, it’s a science based approach and helps a lot, because it helps people to convey the message and be focused.

And just to give you a couple of highlights, it’s something that you can use for your external communication, internal communication, within your group, within your association at the national level, but also you can use the media, you mentioned an operative relationship with media and how media sometimes approach you and also to make a better risk or to respond to issues. You mentioned to me some time ago that you had to face an issue about an article that was published, I don’t remember where we were. There was something that jumped into the media and you have to react to it.

Yeah, okay, so this would have been a few weeks ago, it was the People First Language campaign that had a bit of a Twitter storm around, and effectively we were talking about obviously the People First Language. Now what happened was, if I’m right, a number of organisations in the UK, including the British Psychology Society, had published in their latest document to say that from now on they will be using People First Language when it comes to obesity. And there was a follow on from that from Cynthia Borg who is lead communications for IFSO, she is also a bariatrics up in Scotland, so there was a number of very positive tweets around it.

It was the morning, unfortunately, that our entire leadership team were all either travelling or incredibly busy, and I was the one that kind of picked it up and went, well I’ve got an hour, I’ll post a little bit about it. Unfortunately, in the back of that came a lot of viciousness of people saying, can you not just admit that you’re fat, stop trying to use excuses around, and so it got into a bit of a Twitter storm instead of all that positivity. And I think that’s what we’re talking about here, and I think it’s really, really important that we remember what our messaging is, right, and what we kept coming back to was that we actually have the evidence, we have the data, and we have everything that we can link and send to you, and keep it very positive, keep our message positive, and stick to the fact that it is people first language for obesity, it’s respectful language, there is science behind why we’re doing this, there is a lot of research behind why we say this, and sticking to that message.

But if you were probably new to this, it would have been a very daunting situation when you log onto Twitter and suddenly you’ve got hundreds and hundreds upon hundreds of people attacking you, attacking you, asking for the information, what is ECPO? And tomorrow you will know more about social media and how social media handle things. And just to give some structure to this message map, it’s really simple, you have a roof message, so you have what you want them to remember. And then you have three pillars, one can be utility, one can be what they will criticise, and one will be the action.

So you have the core message, you will have these pillars that are the key concepts that can explain why you’re saying something. Each content or concept should be supported by proof points, so the proof points should come from scientific article, declaration of someone, your position paper, your statements, so referring to someone that can be proofed and credible. And last, so there should not be assumption, but it should be opinionated and supported by credible message so that you cannot be controversial.

And you will see also this tomorrow with the advocacy piece, because this is the method that journalists use also to approach different audiences like policy makers, some guy will show you this. And we also simulated something for you, just to let you understand how can it works. So the roof message can be obesity should be treated as a chronic disease.

This is what you want them to remember. We discussed this, is a disease, yes or no, yeah. Not should be treated, obesity is a chronic disease.

We will change it. And then the three pillars you see below, they articulate why obesity is treated as a chronic disease. So you have by treating obesity we prevent numerous secondary disease and save healthcare professionals valuable time for example, because you can enable people to better treat the patient and treat more patients.

And et cetera, et So you cannot go through it, you can read it and we can leave it there maybe during the exercise, just to give you the idea that it’s not difficult. That it’s something that we can easily do and should not be complicated. And what I would really encourage you is the language.

Be really simple. You are not profit organisation, you are the voice of the patient. Be simple, be catchy, go straight to the point.

Physicians and doctors can be much more precise with scientific language because it’s their job, it’s the way they have to do. You can be really simple and catchy and get to the point. So generally when a presentation comes up where it’s the patient or, because some people look like they are referring to themselves as the patient.

I am a patient, I know because I’m in the system such. I have a new clinician, a new endocrinologist, so I’m a patient. Some people are people who are living with obesity but are not yet patients.

Whether it’s patient or person, if you are on the stage, what’s important is that you can actually, you can be different to the likes of John. You don’t have to stand there and make sure you have every single piece of data absolutely correct because you are the expert in your own obesity and your own story. Nobody else can tell you that you are wrong on that because that is your experience and you are that expert.

So therefore when you are actually standing on the stage, you don’t have to be that absolutely perfect person. You have to be you. And that’s where you can get away with, and I feel like I get away with a lot of quirks and a lot of dropping really bad jokes because I’m hopeless at jokes.

I have one about Mr. Bear and Mr. Rabbit which I’ll tell you later tonight, but that’s it. I know it’s maths going like that. But that’s where you can actually be yourself and you don’t have to be top of the list for knowing the science, knowing the data, knowing the research, knowing what the latest is.

So you can be you. And if you are asked about something that is not in your expertise, you can always say it’s not my area, I will put you in contact with someone that is expert, for example. So if they are asking about the results of a scientific clinical trial somewhere, maybe you are aware about it but you don’t know the details, it’s fair that you say this is not my rabbit, I will put you in contact with someone that can tell you this.

Or the story of someone else. So if you don’t know all the details and you don’t feel comfortable, say I will put you through with someone else that can give you more details. And in preparing the message map, remember the purpose, what we want to achieve, what the core message should do, what you want people to take away.

And last but not least, what you want them to do. Do you want them to understand that obesity is a chronic disease, do you want them to take action with you, do you want them to do something for you, like policymakers, make a law that… To have a call to action. Yes, it can have a call to action, in this case be frank and open and state it, so that they can immediately understand and can take it.

And as I said before, be current and credible. When I say current I mean be updated, use current data, don’t refer to data that are related to 10 years ago. Because in the meantime there are other data that can be controversial when you are sad.

So try to be updated, try to have the latest news, the latest information, maybe this is something that you can have as a CPO, as a database of information. Be credible, simple and clear as I already said before, and remember that one negative needs three positive things to reverse the negative. And don’t use negative when you speak, when you tell your story, but put everything into positive, so that they can understand and not start from the negative part.

For example if I say I don’t like red colour, it’s negative, but if I say I prefer blue, that’s positive. Or whether people told me that with blue I look better than red. This is a different way to position the same message.

And it’s about preparation, because if you prepare yourself you can do it, if you taste it with someone else you can do it. And last but not least, now that we are in a social media environment, think about the fact that when you tell your story, your story can be told in different channels, and when you tell a story on the website it’s different if you are telling it on Twitter or LinkedIn, and when you are telling it to the radio it’s different than TV or newspapers. The rules are different.

In Twitter you should be smart, simple, with a limited number of characters, hashtags, things like that. In LinkedIn you can be just a little bit longer. The audience is different.

The audience of LinkedIn is different than Twitter. You will learn this tomorrow because Alessandro will share with us. And the printed media is different than from TV, so you need to know that when you tell your story there can be differences and you need to be prepared.

Now it’s quite easy to synchronise and synergise the messages, but think about that. And I tell you this from personal experience because we have to change the way we speak as a company, because in the past there was no social media, there was no immediate interaction, so the language should be different, the way you speak with people should be different. And also some additional tips that are also linked to what Tina said before, so inspire a positive vision, understand the audience, use stories, anecdotes, how to start a story, refer to something that you have learned, be updated on what’s happening at the moment, so that you can let people perceive that you are on top of the news, for example, and you know about this.

And then structure your story with a solid architecture so that you can have a flow. And this is just because sometimes we use it really a lot in the corporate environment because the question what do you do is, oh I’m a strategic advisor, corporate affairs, media relations, blah, blah, blah, and we share the title. And the title can mean everything, also because maybe the title is something that is internal, when you speak to someone else that doesn’t know you, it’s okay, what do you do? Media relations, I manage media relations, I handle media, it’s easier.

So when simple questions, simple answers, and think about the fact that sometimes what you want to say is not what the others want to hear and can understand. And also what’s in for me, so think about what they think, you are saying something but they will think what’s in for me. And if you want them to have a call to action, this is crucial because they have to immediately understand what’s in for them.

And this is the example, a practical example, I prepare tax returns, that means it’s such a jargon, why if you say I help people to pay less taxes it’s easier, and I would also be friendly, well that’s it. And as I said before, practice, experiment, test. A good story is a good story also because it’s a structure, you have prepared, you have structured it really well, you have included examples and stories and you have rehearsed, because it’s something that we needed to learn how to do in the right way, it’s not natural sometimes, most of the cases.

And last but not least, what’s your story? Now it’s your time to tell the story. And we hope that all this information that we share and personal experiences that we share with you will help you to tell what’s your story to your audiences. Thank you.

Generally when I try to present, I do try to recognise the saying I am not a helper professional, I will not speak in the terminology that you’re used to speaking in. I don’t know the difference between an endocrinologist and a cardiologist other than one’s heart and one’s blood, and that to me is, I’m sorry you’re all doing a fantastic job, but I’m not that person. I’m somebody who is, as you can clearly see, living with obesity, and I’m somebody who’s had obesity all my life.

And today I stand before you, and I know a lot of people might be a bit nervous about saying their weights and things, but I think because something struck me a few weeks ago when I said to the girls, my BMI today is actually 49.7, I think I said. I calculated it up when we were in a session. So today I stand, my BMI is 49.7, and I am literally just over 290 pounds, and it absolutely breaks my heart to stand here because at one stage I was under 180 pounds, and that was about 14 years ago.

So for me it’s actually hard to have that regain, but what had happened in my life that a lot of questions I get is, if I’m presenting people say, well we want to know what is the best way to approach your doctor, or what should you have in a conversation with your doctor, and what shouldn’t you have? Or how did you get to be so fat, is the usual, typical kind of media one. How did you get so fat? What happened? As Tina Reagan said, Ryan just wants to know how she planned the weight. So I go back through my childhood of, I was in a, I suppose quite a rundown area in Dublin and Ireland, which a few people would know and jokes down in Teller, which was one of those areas where we didn’t really have a lot.

My dad was working in a factory, my mum wasn’t working, my dad was illiterate, he couldn’t read or write, and we didn’t have a lot in our life. My dad was an alcoholic and he would beat my mother. I also went through an experience where I was sexually abused for a number of years, and I think when you’re like probably about 8 or 9 years old and these things are happening in your daily life, you wonder how can I, how can I manage? Like I think if you’re an adult and something traumatic happens, you go, feck that, I’m going to have a drink, or I’m going to go for a run, or I’m off out for the weekend, I’m going out with my friends.

Some people will de-stress by smoking and gambling, some people will go do yoga and go for a swim. People find as adults ways to manage. And what I found was a bar of chocolate.

And I self-medicated with a bar of chocolate, literally one bar of chocolate, and I felt a little bit better. And it’s actually proven, isn’t it? They call it self-medicate with chocolate, isn’t it? That actually you get a little bit of the ahhh kind of moment, and that’s why as a kid, a bar of chocolate, where I put, I went through my teenage years gaining weight. Now, unfortunately for me, the fat gene, as people call it, obesity is in the female side of our family.

So all of the men, they could eat my dinner and theirs and mine chocolate and their chocolate and not gain any weight. But here I am, I just have to smell the chocolate and I’m nearly gaining half a pound in weight. So I was in the female side of the family, and my grandmother, my mum, they all had obesity.

And in fairness, that’s not very fair. I didn’t really get off to a flying start, you know? Teenage years were very difficult because, as you know, the bullying and the shame would come in, and I’m prone to carry most of my weight in my stomach, so you’d get a lot of jeers and nasty, nasty words come and said at you. And I didn’t really have boyfriends because I kind of thought, I was the girl that people didn’t really want to sit beside, you know? It was almost as if you don’t want to sit at the table beside her because you’re going to catch fat, you know? It was as if you could, it was contagious, you know? So I was the girl that actually sat in her own lot.

I was the girl that was at half nine in the morning, so Thursday mornings in gym class, I would stand there. I’d go in at nine, and I’d stand there at half nine, waiting to be picked for the team. As the two leaders would stand there, they’d pick that person, that person, that person, that person.

And I was always the last one going, oh, I hate this. So as I got to a teenager, I started skipping gym class because I knew I wouldn’t be picked. So then I got into trouble in school.

Then I was a troublemaker because I was trying to avoid a situation that would make me eat a bit of dark chocolate when I wanted to go home. When I did actually meet my husband, I was a girl that didn’t really have a lot of boyfriends because of my weight. When I was 15, 16 years old, if you bear in mind, I was probably about 210, 220 pounds of weight.

So I was carrying a lot of weight, and I’m only 5’4″, even though I claim to be 5’5″, but that’s just because my hair was like that sometimes. So it didn’t really hold well with my friend. I would, I suppose, take anybody that said, do you want to go on a date, or do you want to go get an ice cream, or go to the movies? I would have said yes to anybody because I didn’t, I let my weight define me as a teenager because I didn’t think anything else defined me but how people see me.

When I was in school, my career guidance counsellor said that I should, knowing that my dad worked in a factory packing boxes, that I should go and look for a job in the industrial area beside us and work in a factory because I was deemed as fat, lazy, sloppy, stupid, incompetent, because I’d been avoiding school and avoiding bullying, and I was a girl that sat down and kept her mention, didn’t say anything. So because of how I looked, everything, that became my entire life. I had let my own weight, actually, in how I looked people defined me.

So when I did get married, the first thing I thought was, oh my God, somebody fancies me. I was like, well, he asked me out, and as soon as he asked me to marry him, I said yes, because I didn’t think I was going to have options in my life. I really didn’t.

When I was in my mid-twenties, I’d continue to gain weight. So I’d continue to gain weight probably about 12, 14 pounds per year. So if you add it up, I know, I said to Tina earlier about the stones.

So in Ireland, we would use stones. So one stone being 14 pounds, and by the time I was 20, I was about 20 stone. So that’s about 280 pounds.

By the time I was 25, I was pushing 25 stone. I was gaining every single year. And I remember somebody said to me, why didn’t you go to your doctor and look for treatment? And I was like, well, why? Because I did this to myself.

I’ve been eating chocolate to make myself feel better, so I’ve done this to myself. Why would I bring that problem to my doctor? I suppose when it got to the stage that I was struggling with my breathing, getting up the stairs, when I was struggling sleeping, when I realized that my weight was actually getting out of control, and it was affecting everything in my life. It was affecting my children.

It was affecting me. Then I made the appointment to go to my doctor. And I remember in the morning that I had the appointment and I’d received a message from my mom the night before on the phone.

I said, oh, I wanted to say you’ve got the doctor’s meeting in the morning. Just good luck because I know you’re driving it. And I was like, oh my God.

So I went to bed at night, trying to struggle with my mind. And I woke up this morning. And this is how my morning went for the probably 25 minutes.

I was laying on my side and I turned over in the bed, trying not to pull a muscle in my back because I had so much abdominal weight on my stomach. I put my feet on the floor. I was already starting to think of what kind of underwear I could wear that made me look a little bit like Slimmer, so it was more presentable when I went into the office.

I took myself into the bathroom. And because I couldn’t fit into the chair, I used to have to lift the chair door off the chair. And I’d get in and then I would continue to lift up the fat and bathe under it because I didn’t want to smell.

And I had so many sores, infections from the overlap of weight. And I would bathe that and I’d come out of the chair again and I’d stand in front of the mirror. I’d roll in the mirror, brush my teeth sideways because I couldn’t bear to look at myself, God forbid.

And when I turned up myself to the car, I thought, I haven’t eaten anything, but that’s probably better because I’m probably a panel to the lighter on the skin. And I didn’t go. So I didn’t go that day because I was so broken.

And I talked to myself going in there and I’m thinking, if I’ve been on that bed, am I going to break the bed? What if I’m overweight? If he says to me, anything that is negative, if my GP says anything negative, I’m going to, I am going to break because I can’t even fathom my own thoughts about myself. Nevermind somebody verbalizing something or God forbid, the bed or the chair breaking or what if I don’t fit into the chair? And I went through all that in my head to find out I didn’t go. And I didn’t go for quite a while.

I actually put it off for a good probably year and a half, two years, if even more. And the change came when I’d had my second child and every appointment when you’re pregnant, I’d had gestational diabetes, I’d had everything on the list that you could possibly tick. I just went through all the complications and everything was, that’s because of your weight, that’s because of your weight, that’s because of your weight.

If I had had an ingrown toenail, they would have said that’s because of your weight. Literally everything was your weight, your weight. So I found a way to block it out.

But by the time I had my second child, and driving in the garden one day, we live on this main road where at the time the M9, the M7 would have been the road down to Waterford. And about 20,000 cars would pass every single day. And our gate is right on the road.

So it’s electric gates, my car would drive in, gates would close behind you, and we’d have an acre, an acre of land. Andy would jump out, he was about two and a half, three years old, and he’d jump out and he’d go running around after being stuck in traffic, freedom. And I’d go to take Josh out.

And I’d had a really bad day that day, really, really bad day. And I’d cry my eyes out and I remember sitting there alone. She said, you know what, get yourself together, get out of the car.

And I opened Andy’s door, and out he popped. And I went around to the other side and I opened the door for Josh, who was six months old. And I went to unclip him, but we had a gravel driveway and I could hear Josh’s feet, or Andy’s feet, running in the gravel.

And I was thinking, where is he going? And I looked up, the gates hadn’t closed, and he was running straight for the road. So I took after him, I left Josh and I ran. And I got here when he was about two feet down the road by the back in the gravel.

And I remember as I was running, I could hear the back of my bones slapping on my thighs, and that was my fat. And that was what made me go to my doctor. Because I thought, I cannot do this anymore.

I cannot. And I did. And I went to my doctor, and oddly enough, I discovered, because I got enough brain reaming to go, my life can’t go on like this anymore.

I discovered there was a weight management clinic within Ireland, where there was an endocrinologist, a psychologist, a physio, where there were surgeons, where people actually knew about obesity, and were decent and honest in saying that, okay, we put you through a program where we talk about your obesity. I’ll never forget that, it was 2003, this is mind-blowing. How on earth is there a place that can help me? But I had stopped myself, because I wouldn’t ask for help, because it was all I thought.

I went there, a year and a half later, I had bariatric surgery, so I grew in body, and I went from nearly 400 pounds of weight down to about just under 180 pounds of weight in one year. And I felt like Wonder Woman. I thought it was the best thing ever.

I thought, that’s it, I’m cured, I’m fixed, I’ve lost all this amount of weight. And it was simple things like getting on a plane, and not have to think, am I going to fit into the seat? But even though I didn’t need to use the bathroom, I had to check the bathroom, because I got out of the seat, and I kind of swammed up, going, I can walk through the aisles, and I go into the toilet, and I go out the door, and I sit around, and I went, I can actually fit, and I can turn all the way around. I could turn around in a bathroom, like something like that, something that small, was huge to me.

And my life went from being the girl that had only had one boyfriend that became her husband, the girl that didn’t go dancing, didn’t have girl nights, the girl that never went anywhere, was just the mom at home, and went to work. To changing my whole career, to working in media, to write my own book, like Tina, to do the late night show, like Tina, to become a makeup artist, because I wanted to. I stepped out of myself, and I thought, that’s it, I’m cured, this is my life, it’s all wonderful now, and I’m on a mission to skinniness for the rest of my life, I’m cured.

What I didn’t realize was that obesity is relapsing, and progressive. I didn’t realize that I would have to exercise three times more than the average person, because I had such massive mental weight loss. And so I’m 15 years post-surgery, and even now, I can still only have small meals frequently.

But I’m still gaining weight, and to me that’s just incredibly unfair. So when people say to me, how did you get fat, or why did you get fat, or what happened? I don’t know, can we bring up the scientist, can we bring John up here beside me, because he can tell you, I can tell you my story, and I can tell you how difficult it was for me, how hard it was to get care, how long the system is. I can tell you that after having surgery, I didn’t get the second step of the surgery that we talked about, somebody asked the question, should skin removal surgery be a part of it? I didn’t get that, because I didn’t lose enough weight.

So I was left with the loose skin, and as you regain all of the weight that you’ve regained, it goes into the excess skin. So I was left like that. So I believe the system failed me.

So when I’m telling my story, depending on the audience, depending on what the question is, I still tell my story, and I still remember the one step, that those moments, those defining moments, that made a huge difference in my life, and I know make people listen, because that is my story, and that’s what happened to me. And people can relate, because I know there’s mothers and fathers there, that if your child took off out of the garden, and you got them like two feet off the road, that would be horrific if I hadn’t caught him, because I know as a mother, I would have said, my weight has actually done so much damage to my moral family. So depending on my audience, I will always tell my story, because I know it’s important.

It’s important for people who are like me, that don’t have this platform, that don’t have this opportunity, that are people that have that story, and it needs to be told, that we haven’t had the proper access to care. We haven’t had the education. People don’t realize that OBC is progressive.

It’s chronic. It’s relapsing, that you’re going to have to try and manage this for the rest of your life, and manage it the best way you possibly can. So I’m hoping that by kind of sharing my own story, it will help, once we break it up into sections, that this is definitely a safe place, most definitely.

You’re amongst friends here, and I really hope that people are empowered within the groups as well, to be able to share, and to build their own story, and to know that by telling your story, when you go out, and whether you present it to somebody in media, or whether you present it on stage to a couple of thousand people, that you are making a difference for all of those hundreds of thousands of people, and millions of people that don’t have a voice, because you are affecting change. And that is what your story, and what we’re about, is affecting change. Thank you.

So we’re going to leave a little bit of time. We’re going to do some questions, and then we’re going to have a bit of a break and do workshops. So do you want to get the microphone and see if anybody has any questions, or is there some sort of discussion anybody wants to have? Okay, mine’s probably going to be a bit of a hybrid question, but I think it’s something that many of us will discover as we go through the whole representation and advocacy world, is that my day job as a policy and advocacy for the last 23 years, I was fairly public in my whole obesity and bariatric surgery journey on LinkedIn and YouTube, so my over 2,000 followers know exactly what’s been going on in the last three years of my life.

And what it’s now turned into is that actually, whenever I’m asked to make a presentation in my day job, which is not patient advocacy, but it is advocacy, broader advocacy, they always say, can you put in your patient story as well? And then I find I feel obliged to give a less personal version, because whatever I say, actually they’ll take it as whichever group it is I’m speaking with, and they take it as gospel as opposed to my personal experience. And I’m wondering how to deal with that to get the best for people living with obesity, as well as to make sure that the message that I need to carry officially, so to speak, actually gets through. Because I have a lot of different speeches that I’m not asked to make.

So if I’m right, your question then is what kind of message do you put across with your personal story to say that this is just your own as such? And differentiating the advocacy part that she does from the personal story? Yeah, absolutely. Because after all this time, my reflex is not just to give a story, but to say, and by the way, here’s some nice policy recommendations on how you can help. So it’s just an example, but I need them to do this, because that’s actually what they’re looking for.

I can honestly say, because policy is not my strong point, it’s probably my weakest point ever, and I’ve done very little work in that field, that there’s probably people here that can answer that a little bit better. Go on, Inger. I’m not sure I understand.

So you’re trying to draw a line between your personal story and the advocacy interaction you’re having. Am I correct? Yeah, I can say. May we stand together? Yeah.

So I can give an example. A few months ago, IDF, so the International Diabetes Federation, asked me to speak at a European Parliament event on behalf of AIDS. So I thought, okay, great.

And it was about labelling. And they asked me to talk about local ischemic labelling, but then they said, can you throw in what your experience has been as a person who is obese? So of course I wanted to talk about bioavailability and you’re going into the shops and blah, blah, blah. But actually, that’s the message that stuck at that stage more than the Antezel, the scientific stuff.

So that’s the conundrum. And it’s trying to separate out the two, because yes, I have a very specific case, but for sure others will be having to make speeches as well along the way, and you’re representing and just answering questions in general. And it’s about making that line so that it’s not too personal, whatever I put on Facebook or LinkedIn, but that people actually hear the full patient message and or the full whatever my day job message happens to be.

I mean, I think there’s several components. It’s actually a very complex question. But I think the point here is that what you’re trying to basically, I think I get now what the issue is, what you’re trying to basically do is how can I make this a compelling story for the politician that doesn’t feel it’s a personal issue as opposed to a societal issue that they need to fix, and separate it out.

And I think you shouldn’t be doing that. And I think because the point, I think here comes also what the message was about. I think the first thing you need to think is about the action.

What do you want that policymaker to do? I think that’s really critical. If that doesn’t come across, then they’re going to get lost. So basically, because you’re building energy, right, they’re really, I’d say, empathizing with your situation.

They’re like, I want to do something about it, but you let them there. So actually, that’s, we should be careful of not building energy in our audience and then let them there. They need to be able to channel that energy somewhere.

Okay, and that’s an action. I think the thing you’re saying is, your message, it’s clear, I think. The issue is, why is it useful? That’s the utility thing.

Why is it useful for the politician? And then tomorrow we will speak about politicians. And I hope you all sympathize also with my vote. But actually, you need to think how I can help you.

So how I help you to help me, right? And that’s the way politics work. So you need to not draw a line entirely between your personal story and what the politician has to do to help in obesity. But on the contrary, actually, how your story is representative of what they’re trying to address, if you see what I mean.

So I think in that respect, I would be really careful of not making it too personal, to make it impersonal. However, you also don’t want to make it that personal that you alienate your audience. So it’s difficult, I would say, so it’s very complex, actually, to be in that situation.

But I think I will bring tomorrow some elements. And I think today we’re going to be doing actually one of the elements, which I think is really, really critical, which is actually how you basically make your story compelling, how you bring better narratives. But I think what we’re saying here is that we need to understand many different components, which actually are sharpen your tool.

And when you become sharp, then you become really effective. I don’t know what I’m So I don’t know if that’s really helpful. I think probably more helpful when we go through concrete cases.

But I think, again, what you have to realize, and we see that as a company, by the way, because sometimes we see, yeah, there is a need to shape policy. But actually, we might not be the best position, actually, to convey the message, because we are not going to be understood. However, you have the power that no one else has.

And the point is how we can use that power effectively. And I think that’s the issue we’re trying to get here today. There will be an element of understanding your audience, and how you can drive your audience to do something concrete.

So I’m not sure it’s been really helpful to you concrete example. But somehow that I think that’s what this whole workshop is about. May I say something? Yeah.

So what it means to me is that next time I have to make a presentation, I will actually bring someone who is officially ECPO with me, as opposed to say it’s clear that which role I’m playing, and which role the ECPO person is playing, so they don’t get doubled for the same money, because that’s basically what’s happening. Okay. Yeah, I was about to suggest to you to not to go alone, but to have some others.

And the other thing is that we mentioned about being credible. So maybe you should state how many people are suffering, and how many people have behind you. So how many people you are representing behind your personal story, you know.

So giving more credibility, using figures and facts that can highlight that this is not just one single situation, or a specific country situation, rather than something that is happening across the world. Yeah. I think Audrey has a question as well, if you want to pass it on.

I was going to ask, how do you keep it fresh? I mean, someone like yourself does this a lot, you are out and about, you speak a lot, I don’t do it as often clearly, but how do you keep your audience, you may speak to the same audience a couple of times as well, so how do you keep them interested as well as yourself? Because you must, I’m not getting bored of yourself, but do you know what I mean? It must be a case of, do this again. Yeah. So I think this goes back to our own stories.

We’ve all had so many experiences in our lives, and the experiences that I’ve used today are key experiences to me. But I can honestly say I would imagine that majority of people here who have had, yeah just this is a tough one. Sure, that’s up to you.

I honestly imagine that we have so many experiences that we can use, and it depends exactly on your audience. So if I’m doing a presentation to health professionals, health advisers, I will talk about that incident, the one incident that really pushed me away, on top of other incidents I had. I had an incident where my son Josh, who has autism, two of my children have autism, out of the three unfortunately, and Josh was in the doctors with an ear infection, and as he’s leaving the doctors, my doctor tapped him on the tummy and said to him, lose that or it will kill you.

And he was 11 years old. Now he won’t go to his doctor because he feels he’s a failure and an embarrassment. So depending on the audience, I’ll use the various examples that I’ve had in my life.

And also it depends on the time because, so we’ve had a really busy year, ECPO’s had a hugely busy year, and we’ve had people doing presentations here at BR Games in Napoli, the team have been in Netherlands, over in the US, they’ve literally been all across Europe and into the US, and there’s been a lot of presentations where the audience has differed each time, but then sometimes there’s an overlap. So the last few weeks there was a similar kind of audience. And what you do is, you realise that you’ve only got 10 minutes, and what I have on the screen there, you start with the beginning of your message, you focus in on what you’re there for, you focus in on something that will take your audience and literally reach into them and squeeze their hearts a little bit and make them realise that the person you are sending right here, you could be their mother, you could be their daughter, you could be their sister.

And you make it very personal to them, to all that audience. And then you go along with the rest of your presentation. You don’t have to use as many examples as I would.

I find it much easier because this is my lived experience, you know? But you can make it fresh by identifying your audience, identifying your time, and realising what you can use that will really capture them. I don’t use slides generally on a present, I use maybe one or two slides. Because I prefer people to actively listen.

Because my message, I only have maybe 10 or 15 minutes, most presentations, half an hour is I could really book them. And it’s a case of, I want them to understand what it is like for somebody who lives with obesity and why prevention and treatment is so important. Why I don’t want their children going through obesity or living with obesity, and why I want their parents who may have obesity, or their grandparents, to be able to get access to care.

So that’s how I do it. I think as well, just on the back of what Audrey was saying there, is we’ve lived with this for a number of different years. So it’s going to be different stories, different versions of the same story as well.

It’s challenging to find out what part or what parts of your story you can put together to make it unique. So it could be the same start, different middle, same ending. It’s all about picking different parts of that to put in different ways.

And it’s a different message that’s going along each way. Because you make it personal too. Susie had a question, or I think somebody else had a question.

Paul, Andreas. Yeah, it’s not a question. I was asked to train the trainer where Audrey and myself were put into two workshops.

And during those workshops, the discussions that came up with the health care professionals there, actually brought Audrey and myself out of ourselves that we actually remembered stories that we hadn’t remembered up to that before, from the discussion that was brought about that day. There was one part of my story that I had completely and utterly buried, because I did not want to talk about hiding food and hiding food packets and behaviour with my partner at home, who had to have known I was overeating at the time. So the story can change, because being at events like this can bring some more personal stuff out that you’ve buried over the years.

Any other questions from Paul, Andreas? My question isn’t necessarily about the story, it’s about how you deal with media. When I’ve been on television and been asked about my own personal journey, at times they will try and switch the agenda in very, very sly ways. And I’d love to learn properly how to switch it back onto what the whole point is, rather than dealing with their sideshow, because ultimately they’ve asked me to go on there to tell my cycle story.

So I think Tina touched on that brilliantly earlier, right? And this is really owning the narrative. So we’ve done a lot of media work, even together, for many years. A lot of the interviews that I would have done, whether it’s TV or news, or literally just radio interview for God knows how long, or even if you’re on stage and you have your messaging that you want to get across, and you’ve got somebody on stage, they have their own agenda.

So effectively, let’s say the People First campaign, and I’m there to say, we’re talking about the People First campaign, I’m so excited, so I’m standing there waiting, and then they turn around and say, so we see that you’re in Barcelona, like Tina rightly said. And you’re blindsided, and you’re like, what has that got to do with the People First campaign? And so what I turn around and say, yeah, Barcelona, it’s been an experience, however, what I’m here today to say. So I literally say one short line on what they’ve said, and in my personal opinion, I really don’t care if they think it’s rude, because I’m being respectful, and I’m being decent in my answer, but I’m pushing my own message.

And I think that’s where sometimes you really have to be a bit forward with media. You can’t wait for the invitation, as Tina said, because you could be left standing there, talking about Barcelona, and then they say, oh, and, so some of the audience who the last presenter said, blah, blah, blah, or did you see that the latest figure showed that OBC is up in the UK by blah, blah, blah, and then you’re completely blindsided. So what you do is you prepare, you prepare a line that will bring you back to your message, and you use that line, and then you lead into, well, and People First campaign.

And that’s what I do, and it works for me. This is exactly what is called the bridging technique. So bridging, create a bridge that can allow you to go back to your topic.

And you can say, thanks for the questions, but I would like to say, boom, boom, boom. Or maybe you can say, oh, thanks for asking this, but in reality, what I would like to say is that and that. So don’t be rude.

Don’t be rude. And then say, yeah, because maybe it’s not too natural. So you need to force yourself to stop and say, oh, thank you very much for the question.

What I would like to. There are some sentences that you can use. I can share with you that you can use to re-bridge to your topic.

And generally, this is really helpful because they immediately change the way they approach. I will share some with you as an ambassador. Which is my next point.

I was actually on a flight, a great day flight flight with Mickey Campbell, and he tried that. I did all the bridging techniques, which is what I was taught through another organization. And he continuously battered me by switching it off.

And in the end, I just was like, look, I’m not going to answer that. And it comes across as very negative on my point then because I’m avoiding what he’s asking. But I tried a good bridging technique, thanks for the question, but I’m not here to discuss that.

I’m here to discuss this. But he kept, like a sledgehammer, he just kept on hammering away and hammering away. And I got to the point where I was like, look, I’m not going to talk to you now.

I’m done. May I ask you a question? Of course. Is this the journalist’s style? I wouldn’t say so, no.

I’ve listened to him frequently. He’s actually quite… Because sometimes there are some journalists that have this style, you know. So you know who you have in front of you.

You know each journalist has a style. For example, we know that there are some journalists that are scandalous journalists. So if you’re going to conduct an interview, you know who they are.

So you need to be prepared for that. So that’s why I’m asking. I went into it with my eyes wide open.

I knew evidently who Niki Cabell was. He’s quite well known in the UK. And he has always come across as a very nice guy to speak to.

And when he interviewed me, he batted me. Literally batted me over it. And I found it quite disrespectful, to be honest.

Can I just say as well, one thing I learned from media for many years is that no matter what anybody says, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Because effectively, anything that goes out there with that interview, you get the opportunity to get your story across afterwards. Whether it’s on social media or whether it’s picked up in the newspaper and says that, well, you know, we have Paul Stevenson on and actually he rudely disagreed.

You then use that for your own leverage. And then you put out a point you want to put across. But I would say as well, patience is a virtue.

And be patient. And even though sometimes I come out of interviews steaming, I would always be respectful and say, unfortunately, I’m not the best person on set, but I am sane. And you really do have to push it, really.

A team on top of you have to push, push, push. And those sound bites that Tina was talking about, a lot of people actually probably wouldn’t have been aware. If you have a key message, you utilize that.

And to have your three second, your ten second message, and you put that in where you can. And as often as possible, because that’s a message that will drill home. And no matter how much he tried to batter you, that’s a message that will come across to the audience.

But another thing to say before you pass on Grace is, because what we talk about, it’s really personable to a lot of people. So many families are affected by obesity. So he may have had a person, maybe a transparent stare, where he felt probably a little bit affected, that he wasn’t very comfortable having this conversation as well.

So there’s all these other factors at play as well. Can I? Yeah, Tina. We can talk about Grace.

Just very quickly, because I’ve been there, done that, and totally know where you’re coming from. And it’s just a case of gently pushing back. Because they can keep coming at you and keep coming at you and keep coming at you, but as Vicky has referred to, once that microphone is live, you’re winning.

That’s an opportunity for you to say what you want to say. So never get annoyed with them. Don’t lose your temper because you lose your cool, because you lose your ability to think on your feet.

And you just keep coming back to your same message time and time. And just think in your own head, because it will diffuse the situation for you, if you start getting irritated. Just in your own head, think, this is my show.

This is my space. This is my opportunity. Thanks for giving me the airspace.

I’m going to use it to say what I want to say. And just very nicely just keep pushing it back. It’s a game.

It is a game. So don’t feel personal about it. It’s a game.

Thank you. Andres, you had a question? Just a quick remark to that discussion before I come to my question. I believe you cannot learn much from politicians.

But one thing you actually can learn, when you see them being interviewed, they just provide their message, no matter what the first chance. And maybe we should do just that, learn from them. Keep going.

My question goes back to something you said before, Anna. Maybe I got it wrong. You told us not to put negative messages.

You put things positive and positive. And then for marketing, they try to do everything positive, because the negative thing has a negative touch to it. Maybe it’s because of my scientific and technical background.

I’m not like that. I’m like putting a problem and a solution. So I’m a big fan of putting a pain point first and then try to provide some sort of measurement against it.

And when we listened to Vicky’s talk, there were several negative things. And I actually don’t know how to put that positive in any way. So maybe could you put that in perspective? Yeah.

So when I was mentioning don’t be negative, it was not to refer to the fact that there are some aspects that are not pleasant. There are a lot of aspects that should be worried, the fact that health, et cetera. But the way you convey a message, also message that is a negative message, if you just stick on the negative news, it remains this.

You mentioned I put the negative and the solution. This is what I was mentioning. Because if you stick only on the negative, it remains the negative.

While if you combine the negative message with something that can, first of all, create a contest around this. Just not put it as a piece, but create a contest and put the solution or the option really close. This will help people to understand that you balance the negative with the other part.

If you stick just on this, they will remember just this. They will never remember the contest and the solution. That’s what I meant.

Basically, you shouldn’t just complain and whine about the situation and then leave, but rather give space for options. Yes, broaden the perspective and inserting credible facts or figures that can let them understand the value of what you are saying and not just the negative aspects of it. Maybe to bring an example out of this.

When you see, for example, what’s happening on climate change and all the campaigning on climate change, people actually are complaining about what’s going wrong in the planet. That’s clear. That leads to frustration.

But then there’s always a call to action. That’s the positive side. You cannot leave people with frustration because that will only drive negative energy and maybe even against you eventually.

But actually you need to build up that awareness and then after that you say, this is what you can do to save the planet. That’s what we see right now with all these marches of young people. I think here it’s the same.

It’s not about not showing what’s wrong, but it’s about how we can address it together. I think that’s probably the end. The same can be with obesity.

If you will just stick on the data about the prevalence, about the disease, the comorbidities, without using also the messages related to what we can do to change this, they will stick on the fact that this is growing, nothing should be done. Okay, thanks for informing me. No problem.

If I had to sum up what concerns me, I would say that obesity is what doesn’t kill me, but makes me stronger. And as L’Oréal would say, I deserve it. She said that obesity made her stronger because she was it.

She said, obesity is not killing me. But as L’Oréal says, je me vaux bien. I want it.

I’m stronger than that. I’m going to do a plug for my session tomorrow, which is a policy session in Brussels. I just wanted to say I 1000% agree with what both of you have been saying just now, and that this exact issue comes up in the policy world.

That what we’ve seen, having been there, done that, meeting lots of different stakeholders, but I would say 20 years ago, patients did routinely, or patient representatives, routinely came to what I would say, complain. That was it. Luckily, that is not the case anymore.

Patient representatives come in prepared, in the way that we’ve been discussing, with policy solutions, or at least recommendations, which are backed by their millions of members across Europe. And so it’s the same principle of have a story, but have a critical mass-backed solution. Because actually, as Andrea said, and as my mother always told me, politicians and people working in policy just need the words put in their mouth.

We are there to help them, not to complain. So we’re going to talk, or you guys are going to talk about that tomorrow as well. We’ll let you do the plug for my session.

Great promotion. The storytelling approach can help you to drive your message. Because you prepare, you structure it, and you can drive it in a strong way.

While if you go spontaneously, you can forget about data and information. And above all, when you deal with policymakers or media, they have their own story, do you remember? They have their own story, so you need to tell the story to someone else that has their own story. If you prepare and structure what you say, it will be easier to tell your story.

And there was one comment before regarding the media, saying I don’t accept, I accept the interviews, but I will ask them to get the article and to correct it. It’s not so common everywhere. There are countries where you cannot do it.

They don’t allow you to. And there are countries where you can ask, other countries where you cannot do. The only thing that I can suggest, according to my experience, is that if you build a relationship with the journalists, you can have a more productive conversation, and that there is a trust between the two of us, and you can get some information, you can get your quotes, etc.

So what I always recommend, build the relationship with people, because if you build the relation, they will trust you, and you can become a credible source. While if you leave the journalists alone, you allow them to find a source wherever they want. So this is something that, for example, in the country where I live in, Italy, you cannot ask a journalist to send the article before, unless you have an advertorial, so you have paid.

That is not what we do. But with the ones that we have a very good relationship, you can do it. In other countries, you really cannot do it, and ask.

It’s just them to give you the opportunity in case, if you have a good relationship. Any other questions? By the way, I will be around, you know, today and tomorrow, so whenever it comes, when I’m happy to provide. Absolutely.

Just to get to Andrea’s point as well, about it avoiding, it is quite negative when you’re telling your story, because liver and obesity isn’t flowers and hearts and roses, and so there is that unpleasant, I think it was a quite nice word that was used, unpleasant side to it, but by telling your story, you make yourself, and you make the audience, it’s a very human experience. You’re sharing something that the person beside them could be going through, or their wife could be going through, or somebody in their life could be going through. And then you use that then, quite rightly as Anna had put up with the structure, you use that then to engage your call to action, and what you want out of that.

So by storytelling, and by being able to actually tell your story, which is not an easy thing, because you really are telling things that, things that I wouldn’t have talked to my dad about before he died. I never would have talked to my dad about the struggles I went through with my obesity, and how I felt, and how it hurt me. And the only reason I do it now is because two of my children have obesity, and that’s a struggle for me, because I must feel, I’m to blame, it’s my side of the family, it’s my mum’s side of the family, and as a parent you still kind of go, I know the science, but still, I need to do more about it.

And so, the storytelling is not easy, but the more personal it is, the more of a response you get, because it’s more impactful to people, and it makes it very real to every person sitting in the audience, and that is when you use what Jacqueline said, it’s no longer patients just coming in and complaining, that is when you use your call to action, that is when you say, and we want better access to quality current treatment, and this is our plan, and will you support us, and this is what we are looking to do. And we have very strong people here that actually can guide us, and that we’ve got the likes of Jacqueline, and Carlos, and people that actually work in that policy area that can push it for us, but I think the storytelling is so vital, and it’s really good for people to have an overview of it as well, because it makes you feel comfortable, if you’re going to a presentation next month, at least now you have a bit more insight into how you can structure your own story going forward, and what will actually work as well, because not everything works, as you said quite rightly, people have stood up there with legs falling off, like a tree, do you know that? Carlos? In Portugal, we don’t use this in public, and we’re not used to it. Oh no, this isn’t just for tourists.

We don’t use this, we only use this in therapy groups, in the association, or in the hospitals. So as a CPO, this is only in Europe. For journalists, we only talk about the disease, about the evolution of the research, about everything, who are concerned with this, but never with the people.

It’s another stage, because in the beginning, we need to talk about what I am, and what I do, but now we don’t need to do that, and we don’t do that clearly. I think, as you said earlier, it’s a testament to how far ahead the life of Portugal is, that Portugal has recognized what we see as a chronic disease, that we have to understand as well, there are people in Europe that don’t even have an organization in their country, so they are only at the very early stages, and can learn from this. So we do have, as you can tell, vast levels of experience, but I know that I’ve even learned something today from Tina, who I’ve worked with over the years.

So even though I’ve worked in media for the last 10 years, I’ve learned from the last hour and a half, I’ve learned from Anna’s session as well, that I really don’t think that you can ever learn enough, especially when you have new people, because you’ve got fresh ideas, you’ve got a fresh way of communicating. So has anybody got any other questions before we head to a break and come back then? No? Okay, I think we’ll wait for a break and then come back for workshops, and well done, well done everybody. Thanks everybody, I think that was, well first of all, I thought it was exceptional, and I think that at this moment we can all probably leave, because my team win.

They’re just the best. No, but on an honest note, I actually, I think that went really, really well, and I think it is a good exercise to, and also to discuss it with like-minded people that understand, and it was quite diverse. Our table was really, really diverse in some of the storytelling and the ideas around it, and it really showed you that not everybody’s story is the same, even though the majority of people that are at the table are talking about living with obesity.

So I’m going to hand over to Anna, because we want to do a bit of feedback session, and just a bit of wrap-up about today and into tomorrow. So Anna, do you want to? Yeah, I think that the exercise that we have done is crucial to start testing the approach, you know? And I’m not surprised that each story is different, you know? And if you will do it again, there will be another difference, you know? Because every time that you approach this, depending on where you start, where your story starts, it can change, you know? So I think that this is the only suggestion that I can give you is not only to follow these simple rules, you know, but to test it and try it. Also, thinking about different audiences, you know? And not only who you already know, but maybe in the case of the colleagues here, who you want to approach, new people that you want to approach, engaging new stakeholders.

So maybe having different scenarios, you know, and different audiences. And the other thing from my perspective is that this is something that you have… There is not a stop in the learning, you know? It’s a continuous learning, because the external environment has a lot of influence. We are different.

We change as a human being, we change as professionals, we change also in terms of approach. And therefore the way we approach some topics changes, you know? Sometimes we are more emotional, sometimes we are less emotional. And it depends also on the journey of our life, you know? And it depends on where we are in terms of process of engagement with external audience.

So when you start, it’s different when you are in the middle of it, or when you have tested and you have failed and you have to reassess. So I think that it’s something that is ongoing, you know? I’m developing step by step. But the confidence changes.

So the more you use it, the more you’re confident you’ll be in using it. And also sometimes you will see that you apply it in a natural way, while in the first moment you should stick maybe to a paper and go with the simple rules. But then when you start using it, then it becomes natural.

And it’s something that you will apply in a much more natural way. And thank you, because I think that the session was also helpful for me, thanks to the interaction we had, you know? Because a story is important, but the perspective of the others are really crucial to understand, to make it even more relevant. So thank you very much, because it was also a very interesting and learning moment for me and for us, from you, you know? That you experienced something directly, rather than us maybe speaking about something that we don’t experience by ourselves.

Thank you very much. Thank you. So just to wrap up, before I wrap up, something that I wanted to say is that when we actually talked about this training session, going back to Glasgow, and we sat there, we talked about the fact that we have various different levels of experience within ACPO.

We have people who work in countries where they have up to 50 organisations, like Ansovi. We have people who are ahead of their game in policy in Brussels, like Jacqueline. We have people who are healthcare professionals.

We have people who have been patient advocates for years. We have people who are members at large that don’t live with obesity. And we have people who have literally just joined us that have never been to anything like this before.

And one thing I think is just so wonderful about today is that no matter what level of experience you are on, that everybody worked together as a team here today. And I think everybody should be well proud of the work that we got done because the people that are in the room, they’ve all learned something. I know I’ve learned something.

So every single person’s learned, and it’s credit to everybody here for what we’ve done today.