Most of this blog is about analysis. About policy and campaigns on a national level. Today, I thought I’d try something a bit different. (not only because everyone else is writing about how much they love Obama and I do too, but don’t think I have anything unique to add to that love!).
I’ve asked before that Labour focus on a qualitative relationship with voters. That while volume is important, making 10,000 poor phone calls is less useful than making 5,000 useful ones.
Because we are so used to the telephone we don’t really think as we attend phone banks or even work from home about the skills needed to be a convincing phone canvasser. Some of these tips will sound really cheesy. I don’t write them to patronise. I write them because it isn’t until we think about them on a conscious level that we understand why they are needed and ensure we do them no matter how we are feeling.
All of them are there to help, not to chide. To make phone canvassing a more enjoyable and fruitful experience. Not every tip will work for everyone, but just thinking about these things helps us immeasurably.
edited to say: I would be delighted to have any other tips in the comments!
1. Smile. It sounds stupid, but when I canvass on the phone (which is my preferred method) I smile while I do so. It changes my voice. It make me sound nicer, sunnier and more approachable. People can tell without looking at you if you are smiling.
2. Gesticulate wildly! Also modulate your voice more than you would in normal conversation. The telephone dulls and flattens our voices. What sounds to you like normal conversation sounds over the phone just a little more stilted and just duller. Don’t go crazy – it’s a small degree. But if you gesticulate as you talk, it modulates your voice to more extreme ends of it’s natural spectrum. be aware and take advantage of that. It will make you sound more interesting and more real.
3. Never put the phone down. use the button to cut off the call, but keep the receiver in your hand. It will keep you focused.
4. Don’t chat (too much!).Share the odd joke or story with your friends of course – you’re volunteering after all! But try to stay in the phone zone (urgh!) as much as possible.
5. Socialise afterwards. Because of rule 3 & 4 make sure there is a social event after the calls are done. That way we can ensure that this is a fun evening and keep energy and spirits up.
6. Respect busy voters. If someone doesn’t want to talk to you, delaying them won’t convince them to vote Labour. You must ask permission to interrupt people’s evening. If they are busy arrange a time to call them back and STICK TO IT!
7. Don’t read a script, tell a story.It has been tradition for phone canvassers to be given a short script and when they’re lucky a list of relevant facts about the area they are canvassing. The facts are important, the script is not. Ignore it. Introduce yourself and then have a conversation with the voter on their terms. If it feels right, tell then why you think it’s important to vote Labour, but it’s more important to find out why they think it might be important. What are they worried about. That’s when your list of facts can be skillfully deployed.
8. Don’t take it personally. Some voters are angry with Labour, some are angry with being disturbed. If you get an angry phone call just remind yourself that they don’t know you and they aren’t angry at you. If you can learn the trick of not taking it personally, and just quickly and politely getting off the phone you will be just fine for the next call.
9. Listen to the signals.On the other hand, not every complaint a voter has is them telling you to get off the phone. If they are complaining about the issues, they are engaged in the issues. Presumably you’re giving up your personal time because you believe that Labour has a good story to tell on the issues. Respond the to the voter’s objection with the reason that you find plausible as to why Labour have the best alternative.
10. Supervision – not slave-driving. At every phone bank and in every room in which phoning is taking place there should be a supervisor. They are there to gee on the troops and to look after them. They should be well versed in constituency and policy knowledge and they should be willing to pick up a phone call when a caller is struggling. They should be the fetcher and carrier for the group, getting water and sweeties and treats to keep spirits up.
Tags: phone canvassing