Paul Kei Matsuda

How to Write a Position Statement

Here are some guidelines for writing a position statement for a professional or academic organization:
  1. Define the issue. Be specific.
  2. Be relevant. Determine the organization's mission and the scope of its activities. Address the issue in ways that relate to the organization's mission and resources.
  3. Stick to the point. Don't take a jab at side issues unless the connection to the main issue is obvious.
  4. Be professional. Be mindful of the voice of the organization and its membership. Don't turn it into an expression of personal frustration.
  5. Be knowledge-based. Base the argument on facts and knowledge (ideally those that are related to the organization's area of expertise), not on speculations, hearsay, questionable interpretations or "alternative facts" (unless you are trying to create a diversion).
  6. Avoid sarcasm, humor, or culturally or politically loaded assumptions.
  7. Do not tell others what to do. This is a document expressing the organization's position on the issue. An organization can't create a "policy" for entities over which they have no jurisdiction.
  8. Avoid statements that have policy implications. Do not state what the organization will or should do, which may become binding. If action is required, create separate policies through appropriate channels.
I've seen so many position statements fail not because of the importance of the issue or the merit of some of the points they make but because they are poorly written or the writers don't understand the nature of the genre (which, by the way, requires not just an understanding of the conventions but also the social relations behind it).

Last update: January 6, 2008