Political debates do not only take place in electoral campaigns.
They are becoming more and more powerful and are becoming a fundamental element in trying to convince the important mass of voters who have not yet decided their vote, trying to impact the undecided.
We are used to seeing on television the great debates between the candidates of the main parties that run for government, however, there are many occasions throughout the legislature in which the circumstances arise to debate with our political opponents.
Whatever the reasons why political debates are important, both at the national, regional, regional or local level, they are numerous.
The first of them is that all the campaigns are already atypical. To avoid the understandable fatigue of the citizens, the parties tend to reduce their presence in the street, avoiding, for example, electoral fences and banners. In addition, debates have gone viral thanks to live monitoring on the internet and social networks, which means that a debate can tip the balance one way or the other. And let’s not forget the use of WhatsApp type messages where many discussions are done simultaneously with our contacts.
How to prepare a political debate
The previous work of the candidate’s teams is key. And in this job, nothing is left to chance. The clothes, the way of speaking or how to move the hands, the speech and the tone used are taken care of, everything is under reflection and the attentive look to offer the best image of the candidate.
- Review the political debate format. The first step in preparing a debate is to know both the format and the conditions of the debate. In some cases, they will be given by the organizers of the debate. In others, there will be negotiation between parties and organizers in order to determine their development. At this point, it is important to know the shifts, the time of the interventions, the topics to be discussed, and of course, the scenery. It is important that the candidate has all the information, and that he even knows the space beforehand so that he feels safe.
- Study the opponent. As important as preparing your own intervention well is knowing the opponents who will participate in the debate. In this sense, the campaign team must provide the candidate with videos with the interventions of the rest of the candidates who will participate. Study his style, his skills, how he delivers his messages, what he does to throw off his opponents …
- Prepare your strategy. As natural as a candidate may seem, there is always a previous job. Prepare the topics (those that will come out for sure, and those that may come out). Study your weak points, and the issues that you know can be a reason for attack by opponents. Look for data, statistics, and prepare the intervention with short and forceful answers to respond to the criticisms of your opponents.
- Select the main messages you want to convey. If you don’t organize your messages well, they may not reach the audience. Either because they have dissolved between so much message, or because your opponents take you to their territory and your messages are diluted in that confrontation. For this reason, it is important that you articulate your intervention and that you determine what the messages that you want to reach the audience are going to be, and that you repeat them on several occasions. Prepare a cohesive speech with a plot line to show that you have not left anything to chance and that your political project has coherence.
- Focus your attacks. It is useless to attack left and right. Determine who your main rival is, and what are the issues on which you want to focus your efforts. If you lose focus and distribute to everything and everyone, your effort will be dissipated.
- Transmit security in your interventions: People want leaders who know what they are talking about. So prepare the debate, study the issues that may come out, and control the concepts of the different fields so that it is seen that you know what you are talking about, and at the same time, so that you can follow the debate and counter argue the speech of your opponents .
- Look for novel arguments. If you are going to say the usual, the debate will probably be of no use to you. Find novel arguments to surprise viewers, but also to knock out your rivals. In addition, new ideas secure headlines in the media and space on social networks.
- Connect with people: transmit emotions. The average citizen is bored by politicians. And in a debate, that boredom can cause viewers to switch channels. To solve it, try to connect with people by transmitting emotions, and forgetting overly technical terms that can only get the audience to disconnect.
- Think of social media. In addition to the battle on television, debates are now also won and lost on social media. Particularly on Twitter. Therefore, think of short and engaging phrases that are striking and easy to remember so that your team members and the viewers themselves can tweet your intervention.
- Record yourself to correct your possible defects. If you don’t have too many boards in these struggles, a good option to correct your mistakes is to record yourself in a rehearsal. You will discover tics, words that you repeat too much, inappropriate positions, expressions that do not sound as good as they should, or even a tone of voice that is not appropriate. By seeing how you perform on camera, you can correct all those problems. The important thing is to convey firmness and confidence.
- The keys, your interventions to open and close the debate. They are two of the most important parts in any debate. Your initial speech will signal the audience of what to expect. If he sees you nervous, off-center or with a poorly structured message, you will have lost several points to your opponents. On the other hand, your final intervention will be what the viewers will probably remember, and the media may extract from that point the aspects that they will review about you.
- Accompany your oral expression with your body language. If your message is important, what you convey with body language is the same or more. To make a good impression on your audience, you will have to modulate the tone of voice, study the gestures, the looks, and of course, eliminate those tics that we usually repeat in the day to day or especially, when we are nervous. Of course, modular does not mean being artificial. That artificiality is also noticeable, and the audience, and the voters, end up penalizing it.
- Take care of your clothes and your image. The image is important, and therefore, you will have to dress appropriately. That means it is according to your style and personality. In a way that the clothing you choose represents you, but also looks good on camera and does not cause problems at the image level (such as glitters, stripes or squares that make the viewer lose their attention to you).
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