You are almost ready to start your campaign.
But you need to take some other key steps first. To start, you should write a a one-page bio that tells voters who you are, why you care, and how you will make their lives better. You already have your 250-word statement — so you are halfway done. Now expand it out a bit. If you are running for judge, where did you go to law school? If you are running for school board, were you ever teacher of the year? Make sure to add some relevant experience. And if you have the support of people who voters will recognize, it’s probably a good idea to add in three or four of their names.
You are almost ready to announce, but first, some practice.
Try out your rap (or stump speech) on friends and family. This should be a two- to three-minute explanation of why you are running, what you will do, why this race matters, and why you are the right person for the job. After you have practiced this rap on friends and family, try it out it again, ten times, on key supporters. Listen to their feedback. Make edits. Write it down.
We’ve seen a whole lot of campaigns, and there is almost always a trajectory from beginning to end: all that practice speaking in front of an audience makes the candidates much better at the end than the beginning.
Try and jumpstart this process by practicing first with yourself by reading your stump out loud until you have memorized it. Then try it out in front of friends and family. Then in front of key supporters. A whole body of social science now shows that mastery is essentially focused practice. Want to be good at this? Practice, practice, practice.
As we’ve mentioned before, good campaigns have good lists.
As you are building an email program to communicate with voters, go through every email you have ever sent or received and be sure you have a list of updated email addresses. Try to get at least 500 if you can. Most email programs will let you export a file of emails you have sent and even emails you have received. After you have downloaded all of these and deduped (Excel and most database programs will help you remove duplicates), apply some human intelligence. The guy trying to sell you printer toner can probably come off the list.
PRO TIP: Join a local Toastmasters chapter. The sole focus of the organization is to train folks to be better, more competent public speakers in a constructive environment. You’ll have the chance to not just refine your ability to deliver your stump speech, but you’ll get practice speaking on a wide range of topics in varied formats (this can be great prep work for candidate forums, debates, and town halls).
Looking for more information about what it takes to run for office? Download our e-book designed to walk candidates through the process of running – and winning – their first political campaign. And be sure to check out more from our Pathway to Victory series.