On this page we’ll help you decide how best to engage with your stakeholders, including clarifying your message, deciding on your approach and getting the timing right.

This page takes around 7 minutes to read.



Influencing is about persuading other people to help you effect change. As part of developing your influencing plan, you will have worked out who you need to speak to, how powerful they are and how interested they are in your cause.

Read our information about deciding who to influence.

Clarifying your message


Fine-tune your ask. What actions do you need people to take to help you achieve your aim? Why is this important – what will happen if you aren’t successful in effecting change?

Make sure your requests are SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measureable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-limited

Use the right language. If you're negotiating with a commissioner in the health system, for example, don't use hospice jargon that they might not understand. Instead, make sure you understand the frameworks they work in and the terminology they use.

We've put together some information to help you understand the health system and an overview of health service contracting guidance.

Deciding on your approach


Influencing broadly falls into two camps:

Direct influencing

Involves developing and leveraging relationships with individual decision makers, such as elected officials.

Indirect influencing

Involves persuading other people to put pressure on decision makers for or with you.

You need to decide which strategy is most suitable for your aims (or whether you’re going to use a mixture of both).

Mobilising support


Think about how best to mobilise the support you need. During your stakeholder research, what did you find out about the motivations of your audience? Are they more likely to be engaged by emotive stories about the importance of hospice care, or by data and evidence as to its impact? 

You also need to consider the best way to get in touch with your stakeholders. Are they likely to look at social media, or do you need to arrange a meeting?

Your channel of influence


You will have identified some key players during your stakeholder analysis. When you’re deciding how best to approach them, you should consider your channel of influence (existing networks). Do you know anyone who can make an introduction for you?

If you’re approaching an organisation, committee or body, you might find it helpful to go through a receptive member. For example, is there:

  • an end of life care lead or someone who has a lead role in palliative and end of life care?
  • a councillor who can submit a member’s enquiry?
  • a voluntary sector representative?
  • a patient voice representative?

We’ve put together some information to help you understand your local health and care system.

Raising your profile


It can be helpful to raise your profile before you contact key stakeholders. This will help make sure you are ‘on the radar’ before you make a direct approach.

For example, you could share positive stories in the media or contact the communications team at your Local Authority or health organisation. You might want to take advantage of national campaign weeks such as Dying Matters or Hospice Care Week.

Getting the timing right


Timing is key to successful influencing, so familiarise yourself with the relevant decision-making schedules that affect your aim. This includes:

  • the timetable for plans, strategies and service contracts
  • any open consultations or reviews underway
  • the schedule of opportunities to feed into and influence the above

Bear in mind that your input will be most effective early on in the process, when decision-makers are assessing the problem and seeking solutions. 

By engaging early and consistently throughout the process, the issues you raise and solutions you propose can gain traction and become an integral part of decision-making.