Updated on April 12, ’18
Phone banks are a great way to mobilize your supporters, make fundraising calls, gather voter information and remind people to vote on election day. Now, with the US midterm elections drawing near, campaign volunteers are working in full swing to connect with community members. On that note, here are some pointers that volunteers need to keep in mind before and after picking up the phone.
Scripts and call lists
Your campaign manager will give you the script you have to follow and the list of people you’ll be calling. You’re probably excited about advocating for a cause you believe in and may want to stick it through with people till they give you their vote. Or maybe you intend to make the most calls of the day by racing through your call list. Both these ideas are counter productive and may end up hurting the campaign. Set a reasonable goal you want to accomplish that day and figure out beforehand how long you want to spend with a caller. Some deviations here and there are fine, but try to stick to a plan.
It’s better you have a pen in hand in case you have to take down notes. Most modern calling softwares such as CallHub allow volunteers to enter notes on the call dashboard which are automatically uploaded to the party database. Your script will have the questions ready for you, and that’s all you need to note down.
Make it personal
Hearing a live person speak rather than an automated message is sure to get better responses. But you know what will make it even better? If you can get the person at the end of the line to see the human side of the cause. Introduce yourself, share a personal story about your association with the cause, tell the person you are addressing what is at stake for you. Be sure to discuss with your campaign manager about improvisations to the script.
Take down reminders
If you are verbally informed that you have someones vote, be sure to make a reminder to call them again as part of the GOTV calls in the days leading up to Election Day.
Don’t get into arguments
You’re a few minutes into a conversation and things are starting to heat up between you and the addressee. What do you do now? Ideally, you won’t have to do anything because you’re not going to let the conversation get heated up, are you? When you realise that the conversation is getting out of hand politely end the exchange by thanking them for their time.
What to say for GOTV calls
Keep your GOTV calls short and to the point. The person you’re calling is already a supporter. You don’t need their information and you don’t need to persuade them. You simply need to remind them about the candidate’s name and to vote for the candidate on Election Day.
Role-play with a partner
Before you pick up the phone (or dial online) it helps to practice your pitch with a partner. Did you plan on personalizing your pitch with a personal anecdote? Well, try it out on each other first and polish the rough edges before starting with your call list.
Keep a positive vibe about you when making calls. You’re here to talk about your candidate’s policies and agenda, not to bad-mouth the opposition.
Remember to smile
Yes, that age-old trick still needs repeating, because it is that important. “Smiling affects how we speak, to the point that listeners can identify the type of smile based on sound alone” according to a study by scientists at the University of Portsmouth. When you sound happy, people will be more interested in engaging in a conversation.
While you may be focusing on getting out as many calls as possible, don’t forget that phone banking campaigns are also a great way to meet and interact with like minded people who share your passion for a cause. Interact with other volunteers, share stories and try to have a great time.