Lobbying Virtually for Free
Updated: Jun 18, 2020
Covid 19 lockdowns and social distancing have suddenly pushed politicians into the digital age, opening up new ways to engage with them – the “political” video call.
The essential strength and attractiveness of using the video call is its potential to replicate some of the social side of politics, that have been lost with lockdowns and social distancing.
They are good for-
· Providing an attractive platform for politicians and officials
· Accessibility and coverage - the location of speakers and attendees is only limited by time zones
· Profile-raising and creating a sense of community
But they are a poor tool for complex negotiations, sharing detailed information, lengthy debates and reviewing texts.
· Maximise face time and eye contact. You want speakers and the audience to be seen throughout
· Have a simple structure with a clear focus and a firm moderator to keep time and guide the discussion
· Give firm instructions on how long a speaker can talk for – two minutes or less
· Keep your messages clear, short and to the point
· Look at ways to increase audience interaction (instant polls, submitting questions)
· Have a strict meeting time limit, 45-60 minutes is good – being focused and engaged is harder work than it looks, and over one hour the audience will lose focus
· Have slides taking up the whole screen – otherwise people will disengage
· Avoid slides if possible, as well as lengthy videos (domestic broadband connections are not so reliable)
· Avoid rambling speeches – there is always the host’s mute button…
1. Make it easy for people to join – ideally with a click, without the need for complicated pre-downloading of apps
2. Position your computer camera at eye level – avoiding close up shots of your nostrils
3. Good lighting so people can clearly see your face
4. Background – do not let it be a distraction, simplicity is best
5. Pets and family – you don’t want them to be involved. Recently I saw a cat jump on a speaker’s head – very amusing but his message and poise were somewhat lost!
Keep in mind that when you propose a meeting that politicians and officials want to know what is going on - to see, talk to and listen to the latest gossip in their “political worlds” - to have their fingers on the pulse. Emails, official bulletins and the telephone just do not deliver this. Hence the popularity of the committee meetings, plenaries, conferences, breakfast meetings that make up the usual round of a politician’s day. All easily accessible for the politician, but a barrier for many organisations, particularly if they are located outside political centres.
The political video call enables more organisations to lobby – resources matter less and your location is irrelevant, and you can offer politicians and officials a valuable way to stay in touch with the outside world. A win-win situation and no one has to travel, stay in a hotel or hire a meeting room.
Darcy Nicolle is CEO of Political Solutions and author of “The Secret Art of Lobbying” the essential business guide to winning in the political jungle. Learn more