You might be asking yourself, “How do I run for mayor, how do I run for city council, how do I run for school board, how do I run for state legislature?” Beyond filing the right paper work, you will need to craft and refine a campaign speech that resonates with your voters.
This series will focus on how to write a campaign speech, how to create a campaign speech outline, and will provide you with campaign speech examples.
For too many would-be politicians, public speaking terrifies them. It shouldn’t. But 2017 is about more than just a stump speech. Youtube and Facebook Live! make it easy for voters to see you speak without ever leaving their home. PACs looking to endorse candidates have thrived in the wake of favorable campaign finance rulings from courts. More than ever your words have to connect with the voters and others interested in your race. Let’s face it, it’s not just the voters that you have to win over but potential donors, newspaper endorsers, too.
This series is going to focus on preparing you to tell you story no matter the venue. From the town hall to the forum panel to the doorstep greeting to the living room of a donor—you need to be ready to speak. If you haven’t found out already, the one resource you will be short on is time throughout your entire campaign. I didn’t want to make this book lengthy as the lessons are simple, straight forward, but as the adage goes, “Common sense but not common practice.” Other books out there want to make political communication into something that requires a Ph.D. Chances are you don’t have the money for focus groups or elaborate polling. For most races, you don’t need them. What you need, though, is some time for introspection and finding the real reasons for why you are running. Just as you listen to yourself, you will also have to listen to your voters to find the values and emotions that drive them. Moreover, your voters might not care about your race and position. There are many public offices at the city and county level which are important (and elected) but the voters just don’t seem to care about as much compared to the sexier, more high profile, races like Governor or the state legislature. Even then, our schools have done such a fantastic job at educating our citizens on the function of government that voters are unsure of what powers each office actually has. But you still must be ready for the off-topic and odd questions that will come your way. Don’t despair. There is an entire chapter dedicated to handling those types of questions.
How this series will work:
First, you will start off by getting to know yourself. I know, it sounds weird. But your personal story will provide much of the foundation for your political communications. It’s more than just what high school you went to or if you volunteer on weekends, it’s about the values you hold and connecting those values with your voters in an emotional way.
Second, you’ll construct the typical campaign speech. This is your 5 minute core speech that you will then modify for particular audiences.
Third, you will prepare for the major speeches that you’ll have to give. These are your endorsement speeches, maybe the opening statement of a debate, etc.
Fourth, you will learn how to do question and answer sessions like a pro. You’ll learn how to stay “on message,” how to pivot, and how to handle the off-topic and oddball questions while still getting your message to your voters.
Fifth, you will come up with different ways to deliver your message to your voters. Gone are the days of standing on a soap box to preach to anyone who might listen. Rather, you can harness technology to run your campaign message 24/7.
Finally, I’ll give you overall presentation and confidence tips. While many can be found in my Public Speaking Confidence series, I want you to have the crucial points.
This series is meant to be read before you start your campaign. Think of it as prep work before everything else. But even if you are in the middle of a campaign and need some help, it should give you some tips that you can apply immediately. Think of this as having someone beyond a communications director—a public speaking coach. Someone who can coach you and give you advice along the way. It was also my goal to write this series for anyone from either party. This isn’t going to be a manifesto about which side is right; rather, it’s more about the form that your communications will take. Every locality is different and the lessons that one party needs now in 2017 won’t be the same they need in 2021.
Also published on Medium.