Worst Mistakes Candidates Make #3

Not Being Able to Articulate a Reason for Running in less than 30 Seconds.

We live in an age of sound bites. Good speakers know they have 90 seconds to grab the attention of an audience. Good commentators know the importance of a pithy sound bite, an interesting analogy or perky phrase. Good candidates understand the importance of a clear, crisp and compelling quote for a reporter or quip for a radio/tv station.

Your reasons for running need to be crisp, concise, compelling and relevant to those you seek to represent. Easily understood. Easy for voters to remember. And easy to articulate in less than 30 seconds. And if the listener doesn’t immediately understand your rationale, it is a sign that it needs work.

Your reasons had better be about what you are going to do for the voters and your constituents, and not about what you are going to get from the experience or the job. I am constantly amazed at the number of candidates I see who get a case of mush mouth when asked why they are running or what they are going to do with the job if they get it. All candidates should have their elevator pitch down cold before they ever walk out their front door as a candidate for public office.

One of the great all-time catastrophic answers to this question came courtesy of former Senator Ted Kennedy. It remains an enduring lesson in why one needs to have that reason for running answer down pat.

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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.

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