And The Winner Is You

How to influence people to vote for you and your ideas.

Lisa B. Marshall
5-minute read

Thirteen year-old listener Aaron writes:

Dear Public Speaker,

How can I make a speech and campaign to be elected eighth-grade class president, spokesman & representative. How can I know what my (not so) fellow classmates want to hear, and then, how can I convince them to vote for me?

Aaron, since this show probably doesn’t have that many listeners your age, I was thinking of just sending you a private reply. But, obviously I changed my mind for two main reasons. First, because I realized that anyone who is running for an elected position or who needs to influence a group of people can benefit from the episode. Second, and perhaps more importantly, I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to reach middle school, high school, and college students. So, parents and teachers, I am counting on you to share this episode with the young people in your life.

Communicate Your Enthusiasm

Aaron, clearly you already understand how important communication skills are and you also already understand how important it is to solicit the help of others. I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to help you with your campaign, so thanks for asking! 

(Before I answer though, I feel the need to come clean. I ran for class president when I was a freshman in high school. I didn’t win. But, I’ve learned a lot since then and I really would like to help you win.) 

Whenever you want to persuade people to vote for you and your ideas, it is important to let them feel your sincerity and your natural passion.

Whenever you want to persuade people to vote for you and your ideas, it is important to let them feel your sincerity and your natural passion. Many students are apathetic about school elections. However, if you’re sincere, enthusiastic, and you have a message that resonates with your classmates, it’s likely that your interest and excitement will rub off and motivate them to vote for you. You need to be yourself. Trust that your classmates will know which candidates aren’t taking it seriously and which are trying to be someone they aren’t.

Press The Flesh – Develop Your Networking Skills

The key to any successful campaign is personal interaction. As they say in politics, you need to “press the flesh,” which means you need to talk with as many of your classmates as possible. You’ll need to let all groups at your school know that you are interested in becoming class president. Stop by club meetings, go to team practices, talk to people as they are getting on the bus—again talk with as many people as you can. Start this as early as possible, don’t wait.


About the Author

Lisa B. Marshall

Lisa B. Marshall Lisa holds masters with duel degrees in interpersonal/intercultural communication and organizational communication. She’s the author of Smart Talk: The Public Speaker's Guide to Success in Every Situation, as well as Ace Your Interview, Powerful Presenter, and Expert Presenter. Her work has been featured in CBS Money Watch, Ragan.com, Woman's Day, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and many others. Her institutional clients include Johns Hopkins Medicine, Harvard University, NY Academy of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Genentech, and Roche.