How to influence people to vote for you and your ideas.
Recruit A Diverse Team
If your class is bigger than 30 people, recruit a campaign team to help you. Your team should include people from a large cross-section of your school. For example, if you’re considered an athlete, then be sure your team is not entirely made up of athletes. Be sure to include those that are sports-challenged and sports-uninterested. Try to include someone you believe is well liked by the student body. If you're able to recruit a diverse team, you will be demonstrating that you are genuinely interested in representing the entire class. With mixed representation, your team will be very strong and hard to beat.
Meet Many People
Have each team member introduce you to people in the activities that they are a part of. This will be a nice warm-up before you need to completely step out of your comfort zone because you’ll also need to meet people that you and your team currently don’t know. Keep in mind, it’s especially important to meet and talk with people that you perceive as the most different from you.
But relax, because it’s easier than you might think. Just say something simple like… "Hi, I’m Aaron. I just wanted to let you know that I am running for class president. My goal is to talk with everyone in our class. I’d like to get a better idea of what you think about school."
Listen To Your Classmates
Then, pause and wait for the other person to speak. Listen to what they say. Let the conversation flow naturally. Be confident and positive. Your primary goal is just to meet and to listen, however, you might also want to mention a few ideas that you have to improve the school and see what they think. The main idea is to show each person that you’re genuinely interested in listening and representing all points of view. Finally, you’ll want to wrap up each interaction by encouraging each person to vote.
This campaign networking is probably the hardest part of your election. It can be time consuming and somewhat uncomfortable. However, it’s perhaps the most important thing you can do. Don’t give up, just keep at it, no matter how people react. And, this isn’t just important for the campaign. Developing good networking skills will help you be successful throughout your life.
Add Fun and Use Technology
I do understand that you’re in eighth grade, so you’ll likely want to spice up your campaign with a bit of fun. To get your name remembered, you could create campaign cards, similar to business cards. Include your name and campaign website and perhaps some fun useless facts (like it’s impossible to sneeze with your eyes open), or maybe your slogan with a fun photo. For example, you might print “Not afraid to be different” and have a photo of you wearing your glasses upside down. The idea is to make it fun to look at your campaign card and to show that you’re not overly serious. Most importantly, use these cards to break the ice, as an excuse to talk with people.
Of course, you should also consider using technology. You might create a campaign blog that include photos of your campaign team. Maybe include short audio or video podcasts of them explaining why they think you’d make a good class president. Maybe you’d also include a podcast or powerpoint presentation of your campaign speech. Perhaps use email for reminders to vote or as a method of surveying your classmates. Of course, you’ll need to follow all of your school policies, especially when it comes to technology.
Deliver a Simple, Sincere, Concrete Campaign Speech
Regarding your campaign speech, keep it simple, sincere, and concrete. Talk conversationally, like you are talking to a close friend. Don’t worry about getting your words perfect. Just tell your classmates why you are passionate about the school. Include at least two specific and realistic ideas that you think will help improve the school. For example, don’t promise to improve the quality of the cafeteria food, try for more realistic goals, like making small changes to the cell phone policy or adding more after school activities. Try to incorporate a bit of fun, but don’t make your speech a joke—there’s a difference.
Finally, Aaron, I believe that anyone, even unlikely candidates, can win with the right effort and attitude. Most importantly spend your time communicating your enthusiasm, talking and listening to your classmates. Meet as many people as you can. Try to incorporate fun and technology into your campaign. Finally, deliver a sincere, concrete campaign speech. I’m guessing I don’t need to wish you good luck, just be sure to write us when you win the school election and remember me when you become president of the United States of America.
This is Lisa B. Marshall. Passionate about communication, your success is my business.
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