Effective persuasion requires great communication. We all need a strong public narrative (Stories of Self, Us, and Now) to connect with people on a values-based level. But it's also important that we're able to explain our positions on the issues clearly, and that we're on-message with our campaign narrative. Here are some suggestions for getting comfortable with the details.
- Educate yourself. Every campaign has policy sheets (or should). Take the time to really study them, and ask questions if you don't understand.
- Start with your passion. A policy portfolio can be huge, especially in elections or multi-issue groups. Start with topics that really matter to you - they'll be easier to learn because you're invested in them already.
- Educate your volunteers. Give volunteers the policy papers, highlight the most commonly asked-about issues, ask them to read through it, and follow up with questions to help them learn the material.
- Always follow up. You'll get questions you can't answer. If you don't know, say, "I don't know, but I'll get back to you." Take a good note, and make sure you follow up quickly.
- Know the talking points. It's important that you know the message of the day/week/month, too, so read the talking points your campaign sends out. Being on message isn't just nice - you're driving home the narrative people are seeing in email and social media, direct mail, and TV.
You can get a foot in the door by connecting through values-based narrative, but when you can follow up with hard facts and solid policy knowledge, you'll close the deal.
Got a favorite story where knowing policy inside out helped you close the deal? Let us know in the comments on the blog.
Evan Sutton is Communications Director at NOI.