Voters don’t care about your bio. They do care about what makes you tick.
In this video, how to develop your signature story for a political campaign, and make it a powerful part of your campaign message.
In a recent video I mention there is a hard truth about running for office. Voters don’t care about you in a political campaign…until they first know what you are going to do for them. A number of people sent me emails about that video, and many asked, Why tell my story at all?
There is a reason. Once voters know what you want to do for them, they then want to know they can trust you to do it. Trust you to make judgments on their behalf; that your values and moral principles are in sync with theirs.
If you don’t tell your story in your political campaign, voters will never know what grounds you, what makes you tick, what qualifies you to make difficult judgments calls on their behalf.
So yes, your story is a very important component of your campaign message. The mistake that many candidates make when telling their story is that they recite some endless laundry list of things they’ve done, where they were raised, where they went to school, the jobs they’ve held, awards they have won.
That is not a story. It’s a boring bio. Do that in front of an audience and they’ll quickly grab their cell phones to stare at something more interesting that you.
Your story is about some seminal event that happened in your life… one that helps explain your point of view and what makes you tick. It is through your story that you make your self likable and human. It is through your story that you reveal your fundamental beliefs and convictions, causes that are important to you, movements you have led, people you have helped or lessons learned from hardships you’ve endured. Every candidate, every human being alive has a story like that.
A couple of examples:
The Contractor: A client of mine who was a contractor had once declared bankruptcy. The circumstances were this. He was building an expensive home. The owner fell behind on the payments. Rather than layoff his workers and walk away from a job half done, he continued doing the work until the house was in a weather ready condition. He was eventually forced to declare bankruptcy until his successful lawsuit against the owner wound its way through the court system. When voters heard his story, they quickly concluded that he was a man of integrity, character, one who would do the right thing when confronted with a difficult decision.
The Farm Girl: I once helped a single mother in a hotly contested race for Family Court Judge in a very large County. She told the story being raised on a farm, working side by side with her brothers digging ditches in the family orchard, making hay, picking apples, saving money for college, raising a daughter who became a star athlete, and a son who was valedictorian of his high school. Voters concluded that she was grounded with a work ethic, would treat men and women as equals in the courtroom, that she placed special priority on the welfare of children.
How do you develop your story for a political campaign?
Make a list of the 10 people who have had the greatest impact on you. Perhaps it was a teacher, your parents, a coach, or college professor, or a minister, a mentor, a friend, a spouse. Now recall some special moments with each and an event or an encounter that profoundly affected you.
Next, put your life in chronological order from the time you were born to present day. Where you lived. What you did. What you remember from your earliest days. Where you went to school. Your teachers. Classmates. The clubs you belong to. The parties you attended. Each year of college. Your best friends. The jobs you’ve held. People you’ve worked with. Organizations you have belonged to. The people you met. Things that happened to you. The good, the bad and even the ugly. The times you were happy. Sad. Afraid. The illnesses you encountered. The friend who died young. Your marriage. Your children. When you go through this exercise, special moments and memories will fill your mind.
Next look at times in your life when there were significant changes in your point of view, or when you changed your mind about what you wanted to do with your life, or when you saw or heard something that profoundly affected you, or the day you discovered why your were born and what you were put on earth to do.
These exercises will free your mind to remember things in the recesses of your brain that have been long buried. And chances are when you are done you’ll have not one, but several stories about epic moments in your life that profoundly affected you. Stories you can tell that reveal something about your character, convictions, your moral code, your judgment, your notions of right and wrong.
You’ll know you have developed your signature story for your political campaign when it does one of the following:
Does it make you human and likeable?
Does is reveal something about your determination, or a deeply held moral principle?
Does it demonstrate how an event forever changed you for the better?
Does it reveal how you overcame a hardship, or developed empathy for others who confronted a difficult challenge?
When you tell your story, does it make people think, or change the way they feel?
When you tell your story, do people want to talk with you, or shake your hand, or ask you questions?
Very few candidates do this well. Which is why it is so powerful when a candidate does do it well.
This is just one of the 32 lessons I teach in my on-line course on how to run for office. If you’d like to know more about that course, click on the link below:
Political consultant Jay Townsend works with smart, passionate candidates who want to run for office, win elections and make a difference. He has successfully helped candidates learn how to run for the U.S. Senate, how to run for Congress, how to run for Mayor and develop a winning campaign marketing strategy.
How to win an election:
Running for office and knowing how to win an election is a challenge, especially for first time political candidates just learning how to run for office. Discerning the fine points of how to campaign, raise political contributions, and execute a political campaign strategy often requires the help of someone who has served as a political strategist or who has experience as a political consultant.