Candidate meetings or Candidate debates, whatever you call them, they are the second most nerve-wracking part of your campaign (second to waiting for the results to come in).
What if they ask this question?
What if I don’t know the answer?
How do I answer this tough question?
What if I forget my point?
What if I look stupid?
(What if they ask what I think about our party leader?)
Very seldom is the worry “What if I look like a polished politician?” Apparently that is a big no-no to the voters these days – but few people need to worry. I haven’t seen a polished politician in any of the debates I have watched over the last few years in Ontario. Not that I believe there is anything wrong with respecting the public enough to be prepared. And in fact you can be prepared and polished without coming across as a “polished politician”.
Respecting the attendees and the role you are seeking means taking the time to get ready well in advance, and practicing how you will communicate your ideas – with your team, on the doorstep and on your drive.
Ask yourself – is there a clearer way to say this? Is there a shorter way to say this? Will everyone understand my point and why this is important?
There is one key activity you can do today that will immediately make you into a better communicator – better able to deliver your points and ideas… record yourself on video AND then review it. I know this is not easy for many of you but it is simple. and it can be completely private.
Watch me as I try out facebook live for the first time as I demonstrate to you exactly why YOU should do this (and the fiddly technical bits on how to access fblive video AND set it to private).
There were some weird things that happened – like the video on Facebook was missing the first half?? Don’t know why – but luckily that was not the point of recording it anyway… the point is to see and hear myself speaking.
In your countdown to the Candidates Meeting there are some straightforward necessities:
- Know who you are and be able to communicate it
- Know your own platform
- Prepare solid platform plank statements that are short, concise and clear
- Know the questions and accusations being thrown at your party and/or your party leader
- Practice public speaking skills – pace, poise, powerful voice, eye contact, gestures
- Practice interview skills – avoiding negatives, reframing the question, bridging, sound bites, addressing the audience
- Prepare 1 minute and 2 minute versions of your intro, summary and messaging
- Video tape yourself and then watch the video – this is a learnable skill
By the time you are avoiding any of these steps, call me. I offer a free 20 minute assessment on Zoom to help you identify the strategies that would benefit you most in your campaign messaging – core value and theme, mindset, writing and delivery. Coaching helps you be MORE authentic, truly sincere and impactful. And of course confident!
What Gets in the Way
Fumbling, stumbling, babbling, rambling, nervousness, non-strategic anger all get between you and your audience impact. (pet peeve – Know how to end a sentence with confidence before starting your next sentence.)
How do I know what you believe if your communication style is not believable?
Each of the issues – local and larger need a tabbed section in your binder.
Include a summary page at the front of each section with key stats and stories.
Make the font large enough to read without leaning down. Practice this to see what that is for you.
Do not be shy about using the binder for any issue that is not one of your core platform planks.
Conversely – do not use the binder for your key messaging – that is the time for you to look off the cuff (but please, please do not be off the cuff) and have your passion and personality shine through.
For your key messaging you can rely on…
The Cue Cards
Each of your messages / platform planks needs a cue card. After weeks of fleshing out your core messages and adding stats and stories, crafting your opinion and solution – it is time to summarize.
A cue card should have about 10-12 words on it. No sentences. Just write key words that remind you of the core message, the related stat, the implication, a story or metaphor, your solution. You should have 8-12 of these core messages that you want to repeat consistently during your campaign and repeat consistently during the debate.
The Practice for All Candidate Meetings
There are four things you can do that will transform the way your campaign communication goes…
- As I said above – record yourself on video and then review it. This is great practice in itself.
- Run mock debates in your campaign office.
- Role play canvassing scripts with your volunteers. This has a double effect of training them too!
- Book me to come in and spend the day with your team running these exercises and collaborating and coaching you to be more concise, more powerful, more quotable, more confident.