Documents from Talking the Talk workshop at 4th Annual Statewide Gathering

May 17, 2016

Talking the Talk

There are two groups of people that you are going to talk to and while many of the same principles apply, there are some differences.
Elevator speeches don't work.  You give yours, they give theirs and the conversation is over.  Instead, engage them in conversation about the topic. 
The General Public
Some tips:
• Don't start out thinking you have to convince others
o They think the same thing
o They concentrate on defending their position, not what you're saying
• Listen first
o Most people are familiar with Citizens United so use that as the launch pad
• Keep it simple to start
o People don't have to understand all the nuances of corporate personhood to support your cause. 
o People can learn over time
o Identify the issue they have with corporate personhood and use that to build a base

• Ask questions rather than making statements
o How does a corporations free speech right affect those of the individual?
o Does money equal speech?  What effect does that have on the average American's political power? on small businesses?  Are we truly equal under the law?
o How do corporate rights affect individual freedom?
o In what ways does corporate personhood affect labor unions?
o Be sure to listen carefully so that you will better understand where someone is coming from and what aspects interest them.

• It is ok to not have all the answers.   If a question is asked that you can't answer, offer to find the answer and get back to the person.  This helps establish a relationship with the person and makes it easier to extend that relationship to support.   It also tells the person that you are genuine and honest. 
• Do follow up with those who have questions.   Offer to get them additional information.  Be a resource, but not a know it all.
• All of the above apply.
• Look up the record of the legislator you are going to visit.  See what their biography has to say and what kinds of bills they have sponsored or co-sponsored. 
• Work to establish a relationship first, a supporter second
• Don't shy away from legislators you think would be unsupportive
o They may surprise you
o Even if they don't support you, you can soften their opposition
o If a legislator is a strict ideolog, talk to them, but don't waste too much time.
• Always follow up

Creating Questions and Practicing Technique
• Practice turning talking points into questions
• Practice conversations

Three types of legislators
Move to Amend Talking Points on Corporate Personhood, labor unions, conservatives, etc


Three Types of Legislators

The groups or types are:  

* Group 1 - The zero sum legislator: to this legislator it is a win/lose
game or "I win - you lose". These legislators love the actual campaign for
office, because it is win or lose. The heat of the battle energizes them.
They care little about policy except how it may play out in the next
election. They are not very engaged in the debate. They focus their energy
on the next election. They tend to be very partisan.

    * Group 2 - The Local Legislator: This legislator is aware of and seeks
the adulation of his local community. They recognize their position, the
respect (both positive and negative) it brings and their standing among
other positions of influence. Such legislators are very effective and believe
their primary task, as an elected official, is to solve problems for their
constituents, bring government grants and loans to their district and break
the chains of the bureaucracy. Doing so enhances their standing in the
community and convinces them they are doing the job.
Their interest in legislation is focused on their district. They are not
really interested in the larger picture.

    Group 3 - The Policy Maker: This legislator loves the policy aspects of
being a legislator. They tend to be creative thinkers, see the big picture,
work to compromise and are driven by the need to accomplish goals  They are
often not good at constituent service, as it takes time away from their
policy efforts. They depend on staff for those service aspects of the job,
care little about obtaining government largess(pork)  and view the election
campaign as a necessary evil. They have to work hard at interpersonal
relationships. Unfortunately, they often have short tenures because they
forget about the people who elect them. When all is said and done, however,
it is these legislators who accomplish legislation of major importance.

The best legislators are those who balance the talents of groups 2 & 3.