The Art of Persuasive Conversation for Politics

So, let me tell you a story…

What is Persuasion??

How can it be used for Activism, Community Organising and Campaigning??

Does it help deepen and give authenticity to our Democracy, or does it just bring free-market capitalism ideas of exploitation to the process of Political Communication??


Obama 2008 campaign. Launched in 2007, the platform was a Facebook-like site that not only helped the campaign communicate with supporters and raise money, but it was also designed to help supporters connect with one another and organize events in their local community. Perhaps the most innovative strategy for combining digital tools and face-to-face opinion-leadership was the campaign’s creation of an Obama iPhone application. The interface organized friends and contacts by key battleground states, encouraged users to call their friends on behalf of Obama; provided information on local events; and included videos and issue backgrounders that users could reference or show during face-to-face conversations with friends. The application also provides feedback data to the campaign, such as the number of phone calls successfully completed (Shankland, 2008; Nisbet & Kotcher, 2009).
In training opinion-leaders, the goal was not to have them tell Obama’s story to others but to persuasively narrate their own personal stories about why the campaign mattered to them. In designing a movement-themed campaign, the Obama team applied a philosophy to opinion-leaders that created a “structure that allows all members of the team to make [a] campaign his or her own.” The Obama team believed that a campaign must go beyond “simply assigning volunteers to tasks to instead allow well-trained supporters to have ownership within the campaign (Berman, 2010 pg. 124).


2. Persuade the Persuadable — Everyone can be persuaded, given the right timing and context, but not necessarily in the short term. Political campaigns focus their time and money on a small set of swing voters who decide elections. The first step of persuasion is always to identify those people that at a given time are persuadable to your point of view and focus your energy and attention on them.


8. Do something for them.
As a kid, you probably said something nice to your parents before asking them for something. Even at a young age, we realize that people are more likely to help us out if they’re returning the favor for something we’ve done.
You can do this before you even pitch anything. If you start off a networking relationship with a favor, that person will be more likely to work with you later on.
You should also return the favor, because you never know what’s being noticed about you. I once recommended a great website on this site, which was an unsolicited favor. The recipient of this favor was so grateful for the spike in sales that they sent me free merchandise. I didn’t ask for it and they definitely didn’t have to, but it cemented a relationship that could lead to more mutual benefits in the future.


Political persuasion and influence was a vital part of political campaigning leading to a general election. It worked best during a six week period of sustained advertising, media coverage and other traditional elements of political discourse including speeches, rallies, fiestas, and politicians wandering around shopping centres kissing babies.
Unlike election campaigns in developing countries, where propaganda as power and persuasion through vibrant street theatre was an important tactic due to low literacy rates, election campaigning in developed countries was relatively sedate and well, frankly, boring.


3. It’s About Them, Not You Since debates are ostensibly conducted to educate and persuade voters, it would seem that the candidates would put more effort into reaching their “persuadable” audience and less about reaching the true believers.


[This is a WORKING DRAFT Essay/OpEd — thanks, Peter]

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