Whether you’re involved in politics or business…you’re in sales! In business, it’s your goods or services, in politics the “product” you’re selling is you, your favorite candidate or issue. And when it comes to talking with lawmakers about legislation, you’re working to gain their vote in favor of your position.
So do you have your “elevator speech” ready? In a recent interview with Florida State Representative Danny Burgess (R-38), I asked him what influences his decision to vote one way or another. His response was priceless!
“When talking to me about legislation, give me the facts, not the talking points. I want to know in real time, with real numbers the direct impact a bill will have on my constituents and their community. Anyone can share the talking points, but I know the people that give me the facts have done their research, and the issue hits close to home. This information also gives me a sound argument to confidently debate or address my/your concerns with my colleagues.”
Now you may be thinking this is the wrong time of year to even talk about “the facts”, but I’ll share why that’s not true. In my April 2nd post, The Time is NOW!, I shared advice from legislators that it’s never too early to begin a dialogue about legislative issues or appropriations requests. And Representative Burgess agreed.
“It’s never too early to talk to me about a legislative issue. But since the 2019 Session is almost a year away, don’t just talk to me once. Having an on-going dialogue throughout the summer means my staff and I have the opportunity to research the issue and work closely with you before session begins.” – Rep. Danny Burgess
We would like to thank Representative Burgess for sharing his candid advice and for his service to the people in Florida House District 38 and to his country. In addition to his public service he is also a Captain in the United States Army Reserve.
So what does this have to do with an “elevator speech”? As you interact with lawmakers over the summer, often those interactions will be very brief. And once you’ve had the initial, in-depth conversation about your issue or concern, a quick reminder becomes that 60-90 second speech. Preparation is key to ensure you deliver your message quickly. Here’s a few tips to help you:
- In his book, Personal Political Power, author Joel Blackwell talks about the four most important questions legislators want answered:
- Who will be affected?
- How will they be affected?
- How many will be affected?
- How many care they will be affected?
If you can share the above information quickly and effectively it will leave a lasting impression on those you are trying to influence.
- PRACTICE! – All successful business owners will tell you that practicing what you’re going to say means you’ll be ready to share your message on a moment’s notice.
- Know your audience – Are you talking to a Republican or Democrat? Business owner, attorney, executive, etc? While your overall message should be the same, you may want to change your message to appeal to their philosophical beliefs and values.
Lastly, re-evaluate your message if it’s not having the impact you want. And if you know the legislator well, ask them to critique your it and provide feedback on how you can improve.
Just because your time with a lawmaker may be brief, it doesn’t mean it can’t be effective. So whether you’re going up or going down in that elevator…practice makes perfect!
Your Partner in Advocacy…Kathy