How to be a Good Canvasser for a Cause
Canvassing is crucial to the success of any campaign. Despite all of our advances in technology, fancy marketing, and targeted advertising, getting out and knocking on doors is still one of the most tried and true methods of developing support for your candidate and winning elections.
But, there’s something inherently a little scary about going door to door, right? You’re an uninvited guest, you don’t know who’s going to be on the other side of the door, and you’re there to be persuasive. All of this can combine to create a not-so-fun situation pretty quickly -- and the fear of all that potential awkwardness is what keeps most people from canvassing at all.
But, canvassing doesn’t have to be hard or scary. And it definitely doesn’t have to be uncomfortable for you OR the person whose door you’re knocking on.
In fact, with just a few simple tricks, you can be a canvasser who not only accomplishes your election goals, but makes meaningful connections along the way.
Canvassing Tips and Tricks
Care About Your Subject Matter
It’s more important to speak with passion than to know absolutely everything there is to know about the upcoming election. It’s okay not to have all the answers and you definitely don’t need to have every policy memorized.
Instead, you should strive to truly care about the topic at hand. Tell your own story, get invested in why you’re there, and try to help others relate to you. The more personal you make it, the more likely voters are to listen to you!
Being a persuasive public speaker is all about commitment to your subject matter. Explaining why you care is an incredibly effective way to spark care and commitment in others.
Change Your Mindset
You’re not a telemarketer, you’re someone who genuinely cares about helping your community and you want to encourage others to do the same!
Instead of being worried that you’re harassing people at home, frame it as though you’re there to offer them valuable information and advice. Changing your mindset can go a long way toward making you feel more comfortable -- and when you’re comfortable, the voter is more comfortable.
Rehearse Your Talking Points
Being prepared is a great way to eliminate nervousness. You’ll feel more calm, confident, and ready to get started!
Often, the group you’re canvassing with will provide you with talking points, as well as strategies for adapting the material to your own style and background. Having the information provided for you allows you to focus exclusively on becoming comfortable with the material -- no research stress required!
An easy trick to get started is to formulate a quick, 30-second “pitch.” What are the key points you would like to cover in only 30 seconds? This will help you identify your main talking points and how to deliver them effectively.
From there, every voter you talk to will be another practice round! You’ll start to learn what works, what doesn’t, and what way of delivering the material seems to be most engaging for your audience.
Be Professional and Approachable
Like it or not, humans make assumptions based on appearance. The more you do to make yourself appear friendly, professional, and approachable, the more likely the person will be to open the door at all.
Some organizations might provide you with a t-shirt or suggested uniform, but some standard guidelines are clean jeans or khaki pants and a polo or t-shirt. Dress appropriately for the weather and don’t forget comfortable walking shoes!
Don’t Take It Personally
Not every door is going to open and that’s okay! Alternatively, those who open the door might not always have a positive reaction to you. That’s okay, too!
On any given day, every person you come in contact with is going to be going through something different. If people react to you negatively or you have an unpleasant encounter, try not to take it personally. That person could very well just be having a bad day. Move on and maximize your time spent canvassing at the next house!
Work Hard, Work Smart, and Enjoy Yourself
Being a good canvasser is not only about maximizing your time, working hard, and communicating effectively -- it’s also about enjoying yourself. Effective canvassing can be challenging, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. You should absolutely feel good about the immense impact you are having on your community!
Let that sense of pride guide the work you do for your candidate or voting measure. If you smile, act excited and enthusiastic, and stay engaged, voters are going to respond to your energy. What you put into the job, you will get back out of it.
Lastly, if you have further questions -- ask! Your team is there to help and support you along the way.
The more you know, the stronger a canvasser you will become!