Why do you want to run for office?

It's the first question you should ask yourself before deciding to run. It is a question you are going to get asked over and over again throughout your campaign.

So what's your answer?

Why do you want to run for office?

You should be able to explain your decision in three to five sentences. Your 30-second elevator pitch if you will.

Easy? Well if your answer is what I hear from so many candidates:

"I’m running because…

  • I don’t like how the city council voted for ______.
  • The current school board is _____, ______, ______.
  • The current mayor wasted _______.
  • Government is ________.
  • The ______ party has too much _____.
  • Etc.

…and I’m going to fix it with (insert list of ideas here)!"

maybe it is harder than you think.

I’m not saying you can’t have those opinions and/or shouldn’t share them, but that answer is not the most effective for advancing your campaign.

Let’s face it, it is extremely difficult to capture all the reasons, emotions and motivations of why you have decided to run for office into a consistent and compelling 30-second pitch.

So if you really are just steaming mad about that one vote a school board member made or you really, really just dislike the incumbent - you may want to stop reading about here.  Buuuut if that’s you (or not you ;)) and you still want a shot at winning over the voter, let’s continue…

To make it simple, let’s go over three common pitfalls of a candidate’s elevator pitch and then round it out with five steps to crafting a compelling answer to the question, “why do you want to run for office?”

Three pitfalls:

  1. It is only about you.
    • I know what you’re thinking, “but hey, I was asked why I want to run for office.” That is true, but most people what to know what it means for them, what are you going to do that impacts their day-to-day life while you're in office.  Don’t get stuck just talking about yourself.
  2. Length.
    • We talked about this earlier but it warrants repeating, keep it short. Your pitch should invite conversation versus talking at a person for several minutes.
  3. Not leaving the conversation open.
    • Always leave your pitch open and give the voter the opportunity to give you feedback or learn more about you.  

Let's make a pitch!

A few quick things to remember:  

  • What's your goal? It's to answer the question, why do you want to run for office?
  • Who’s your audience? If you are at a meet and greet early in the campaign the audience is most likely different than a room full of small business owners where you are looking to raise fundraising dollars. Know your audience.
 
 

Okay for real, let's make a pitch...five steps!  

  1. Start with an action phrase used to do describe you. Try to stay away from only using your job title and share a little about what you do.
    • Instead of, "Hi I'm Bob Smith. I am a teacher at Pepperdine Elementary School."
    • Try, "Hi I'm Bob Smith, and I've been serving students as a second grade teacher at Pepperdine Elementary School for the last seven years."
  2. Highlight your experience.
    • "During my time teaching at Pepperdine, I have kept up with the changing requirements students will be tested for and my students have consistently scored above average on standardized tests, but it’s hard work for both the teachers and the students."
  3. State the office you're running for.
    • "I'm running for Westville School Board."
  4. Explain one way you want to serve the voter -this is the sentence where you focus on why you want to run for office.
    • "I'm passionate about ensuring our teachers have the resources they need to improve student standardized test scores."
  5. Leave the conversation open. If you have a few moments to chat invite them to ask you a question on the spot, but if you don't have time ask the voter to take an action. Depending on what point it is during the campaign you may ask different things; early on you may ask them to look up your website or later you may ask the voter for their vote.
    • "This is just one of the reasons why I am interested in being your choice for Westville School Board and I invite you to learn more about me and my positions by visiting my website (hand them a card)."

Pull it all together

"Hi I'm Bob Smith, and I've been serving students as a second-grade teacher at Pepperdine Elementary School for the last seven years. During my time teaching at Pepperdine, I have kept up with the changing requirements students will be tested for and my students have consistently scored above average on standardized tests, but it’s hard work for both the teachers and the students. I'm running for Westville School Board because I'm passionate about ensuring our teachers have the resources they need to improve student standardized test scores. Ensuring teachers have resources they need is just one of the many important reasons why I am interested in being your choice for school board and I invite you to learn more about me and my positions by visiting my website (hand them a card)."

Edit

Now that you have it all down on paper read it out loud. Does it sound a bit too formal like the example above? But if your pitch came out like you talk, perfect you're done! If it didn't that's okay -you've got options...and bonus the formal version could be perfect for a written intro.

If you're trying to make your pitch sound more conversational here are a few ideas:

  • Go back and rewrite each sentence striving for a more conversational tone.
  • Re-read each sentence out loud and see if you can paraphrase.
  • Practice reading the whole paragraph out loud over and over and then try to paraphrase like you're talking to a friend.

Practice

It seems obvious but you need to practice. If you're at a particular function where you want to hit on an important piece of your background practice that. If you are at a fundraising function, practice a version where you ask for financial support.

After you've got the basic formula down you'll find it easy to substitute different phrases and over time, you won't even notice yourself doing it.

Take action

So let's get started! Dive into the five simple steps to crafting your 30-second elevator pitch to why you want to run for office. Get the Simplified Campaigns worksheet delivered to your inbox and work through developing your pitch with brainstorming exercises for each step.

Get your 5-step Elevator Pitch Worksheets

Work through these simple 5 steps and answer that common question and while keeping your audience's attention.

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