What this is about
This page contains some hints and tips for writing letters and for talking to people about yourself or about the problems you have encountered.
Here are some tips about writing letters.
Keep it short and to one page, two at most.
The letter heading should clearly state who you are, your address and contact /email details (and your position in the organisation if there is one).
Start the body of your letter with a polite request, such as, “Can you help me, please?”
End your letter with “the ask” – why you are writing and what you want them to do.
Be polite, professional and courteous.
Always address the person correctly. (If you aren’t sure, ask!)
If you are using a sample letter, personalise it and add information about how the issue affects you personally.
Sign it in your own handwriting, put a stamp on it and post it (you’d be surprised how often people forget to!).
Those are the key things you need to know in order to give a little speech or write a letter to someone. Have a look through the following section for people taking part in groups and campaigns as well, because there are some useful tips in there.
Writing letters to newspapers
Here are some tips on writing a letter to the Editor of your local newspaper. Many letters to the Editor are now sent by email. You can usually find the email address to send your letters to, from your newspaper itself or from its web site.
Editors are usually pleased to hear from new correspondents and to hear about subjects that have not been debated recently or before in their newspapers.
Pressure is tight on space for letters in newspapers so be brief and to the point. Be polite and make your point.
The newspaper will require a full name, address, email address if by email, and a contact phone number to be appended to your letter or email. They will not publish your full address, but a truncated version of it, and will not publish your telephone number. If you wish to remain anonymous you can do so, but the newspaper will still need your full details so that they can be sure the letter is genuine.
Check any instructions for submitting letters that are printed in your newspaper. They may want the email subject to be “For publication” or similar, and if writing a letter by mail, you may wish to write “For publication” on the letter.
Keep a copy. It may be an idea to have a separate email folder for Press in which you can save your letters.
The newspaper may re-write your letter slightly to make your point better, or to help them fit the letter in. Keep a note of any changes they make, for next time!
Speaking to people
Here are some tips for dealing with the situation where you have been asked to attend a meeting or hearing or make a speech at a mixed group in order to make a point.
Contact a sympathetic person you will be addressing before hand to make sure you are on the agenda and that the points you want to make are appropriate.
Dress professionally so that your comments are not undermined by your appearance.
Prepare your remarks ahead of time, think about making some copies of your key points to hand out.
Start by introducing yourself, where you are from, and the reason you are speaking.
Speak slowly and clearly.
Use your personal story and expertise to make your case.
Be brief. Find out what the time limit for your remarks is and stick to it.
End your remarks by saying thankyou.
Proof read and links checked 02 April 2013