Local influencing – guidance

Speech and language therapy transforms the lives of those with communication and swallowing needs. This guidance has been developed to help you communicate that to your local stakeholders.


This guidance is designed to give you the tools you need to demonstrate to your local budget holders, decision-makers, and other stakeholders, how speech and language therapy can help:

  • Deliver their objectives
  • Improve outcomes for them
  • Improve outcomes for people who benefit from speech and language therapy

The following information provides responses to questions you may have, such as:

  • What is local influencing and why is it important to get involved?
  • Who should I try to influence?
  • How do I influence them?
  • When and where do I influence them?

What is local influencing and why is it important to get involved?

Local influencing demonstrates to your stakeholders how speech and language therapy transforms the lives of those with communication and swallowing needs. These stakeholders include budget-holders and decision-makers.

Why should I get involved in local influencing?

Local influencing has a range of benefits to:

  • Your budget-holders and decision-makers. Local influencing demonstrates to them how you can help deliver their priorities, add value for money, be a cost saver, not a cost driver and contribute to increasing efficiencies.
  • Your service users. By influencing local budget holders and decision-makers you can ensure that service users have increased access to the speech and language therapy services they need.
  • Your service. By influencing local decision-makers you can help influence changes in commissioning and potentially increase the resources available to your service.
  • You. Local influencing is a great way of contributing to your CPD, the ‘Giving Voice CPD Framework’ has some great examples on how.

What can local influencing achieve?

Examples of successful local influencing include:

Who should I try to influence?

Who you should try to influence depends on what you want to achieve.

Do you want to…

  • Respond to changes in commissioning?
  • Expand your service to new areas or settings?
  • Increase awareness of your work amongst colleagues?
  • Raise political awareness of your work?

Internal influencing: who to influence in your organisation

If you work in an organisation, you may want to influence other people working there. This may include raising awareness of your work, seeking to expand your work into new areas and responding to changes in service planning/structure.

Depending on what you want to achieve, internal influencing targets could include:

  • Your colleagues, including other AHPs and medical staff
  • Other relevant staff
  • Your manager
  • Heads of therapy services
  • Clinical directors
  • Directorate managers
  • Professional leads
  • Chief executive and board

External influencing: who to influence in your nation

You may want to influence external stakeholders, including local budget-holders, decision-makers, and politicians. To help you identify your key external targets, the RCSLT has produced a list of relevant stakeholders in each of the nations of the UK. These will help you to identify who to influence.

Spheres of influence and partnership mapping

When planning your internal and/or external influencing activity, it is important to think about:

  • the spheres of influence you work in
  • the mapping of your stakeholders

This will enable you to identify who the priority stakeholders to influence are, and highlight any stakeholders you or your colleagues have existing relationships with.

The RCSLT has produced the following material to support you:

Building on what and who you know

In determining which stakeholders to influence, build on what and who you already know.

  • Ask your colleagues if they know or have had any contact with the stakeholders.
  • If you have contacts in external organisations that you are trying to influence, ask them who the best people to approach are.

How do I influence them?

Influencing by demonstrating the difference you make:

The key to successful local influencing is being able to demonstrate how speech and language and therapy:

  • Transforms people’s lives
  • Delivers a range of local and national priorities

Highlighting how you help deliver your stakeholder priorities

Knowing your stakeholders’ priorities puts you in a stronger position to influence them, as you can demonstrate how your work can help deliver their objectives.


In England, relevant priorities include:

  • Your local Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (available on your local authority website)
  • Your local Health and Well Being Strategy (available on your local authority website)
  • Your local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) commissioning intentions (available on your CCG website)


  • In Scotland, relevant local children’s social care and health priorities should be accessible on your local authority and health board websites. You can use Google, if you’re having problems locating them.


In Wales, relevant priorities include:

  • Local population needs assessment, jointly produced by Local Health Board and Local authorities, via the new regional partnership boards established under the Social Services and Wellbeing Act (available on the regional partnership board websites).
  • Local Wellbeing Plans developed by Public Service Boards (as required by the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act).

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, relevant priorities include:

In addition, see the ‘What nation-specific material is available to me?’ web page for details of the health care and education profiles of your local population.

Top tips on influencing your local stakeholders – dos and don’ts

There are various dos and don’ts you should observe when undertaking local influencing:

  • Listen, don’t just talk
  • Be positive, don’t be negative
  • Recognise proposed change as an opportunity and not just as a challenge
  • Talk about your service user, don’t just talk about your service
  • Talk about your stakeholders’ priorities and how you can deliver them, don’t just talk about your priorities

Preparing your case

  • Use service user stories – case studies are a powerful way of illustrating the difference you make to people’s lives
  • Illustrate the economic benefit of your work, how it is cost-effective and can secure financial savings
  • Where applicable, show how you are working in new and innovative ways to improve outcomes for people
  • Where applicable, include details of the risks of not providing speech and language therapy to people with communication and swallowing needs
  • Research your stakeholders’ priorities and show how you can help deliver them

You may also find our page on preparing your business case helpful.

When and where do I influence and target them?

Everyone, everywhere, all the time, whatever you are doing, whoever you are doing it with and whenever you are doing it, you’re in a position to influence people.

You may be doing formal, proactive activities:

  • Giving a formal presentation
  • Speaking at a conference
  • Preparing a consultation submission
  • Developing a business case

You may be doing more informal, reactive activities:

  • Attending a reception
  • Chatting to someone in the car park
  • Sharing a lift with someone
  • Responding to a local candidate knocking on your door

With the formal, proactive activities, making your case is easy:

  • You’re in control, you’re not on the spot;
  • Your case is prepared, you have your facts and figures to hand
  • You know how long you’ve got to say what you want to say.

With the informal, reactive activities, making your case is not so easy:

  • You’re not in control, you’re on the spot
  • Your case isn’t prepared, you need to think on your feet
  • You’re not sure how long you’ve got – a minute, maybe two, no more than five
  • You’re possibly talking to someone who may be important to you (a commissioner, a local official or a local politician)
  • You’re presented with a great opportunity to make your case to a key decision-maker. Take it.

Elevator pitch

Developing an elevator pitch is an excellent way in which you can prepare for and get the most out of these chance encounters. You can even develop several elevator pitches, so you can use the most appropriate one in the context.

An elevator pitch is a short script highlighting to stakeholders the difference you make and how your work transforms lives.

It is made up of three parts:

  • Introduction; who you are and what your job is
  • Description of what you do; a succinct summary of your work/service and its outcomes. Include key messages and statistical data
  • Take home message for your stakeholder; think about what you want your stakeholder to do and tailor accordingly. Give them your business card, if you have one, give them a short note on your work/service – for example a tailored version of the ‘Transforming lives, improving outcomes’ document.

Top tips on preparing an elevator pitch

Some tips for preparing your elevator pitch:

  • Write it in your own words
  • Be yourself
  • Keep it natural
  • Avoid jargon
  • Use everyday language understandable to a lay person
  • Try to keep it as near to 200 words as possible
  • Once you’ve prepared your pitch, you can practice it with colleagues

Example pitches

Other influencing opportunities

You can use the principles underpinning the elevator pitch to inform other influencing activities. Depending on the stakeholders you want to influence, these can include:

  • writing letters
  • telephone conversations
  • using face-to-face meetings
  • service visits

Guidance on meetings and service visits with MPs

You can adapt our guidance on meetings and service visits with MPs to your settings, and also to meetings and service visits with other stakeholders.


Information to support influencing

  • Influencing learning journey – Available on the RCSLT’s CPD e-learning site, this learning journey helps members to improve their self-awareness, confidence and knowledge in influencing skills.
  • Assessing the needs of your local population – Knowing the needs of your local population will help you demonstrate how your work can make a difference.
  • Preparing your business case
  • Our outcome measurement guidance covers:
    • Using outcome measurement to evaluate clinical effectiveness and drive quality improvement.
    • Utilising outcome measurement data to demonstrate the impact of speech and language therapy.
  • Clinical guidance A to ZFind information and resources to support your influencing for specific client groups and conditions. Each topic includes a dedicated page on influencing and campaigning
  • Where do SLTs work? – Find information and resources to support your influencing for specific settings including justice, education and children’s services. Each topic includes a dedicated page on influencing and campaigning.
  • Research centreThe RCSLT research centre provides a range of resources, including on evidence-based practice
  • VideosSLTs at Bradford District NHS Care Trust have made a series of videos detailing what speech and language therapists do.

Policy developments across the nations

RCSLT’s policy and public affairs team provide briefing documents on a wide range of legislation and policy covering all four UK nations.

Understanding the bigger picture across the nations

If you know what is going on in the wider political and economic fields, you’ll be better prepared for change and better able to respond in the interests of your service users.

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