Training Staff, Candidates and Volunteers

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1. Objectives, themes and formats
2. Exchange of knowledge for staff
3. Personal speech coaches for candidates
4. Volunteers: the basics
[Print version of the entire article]

[Click here for Best Practice Examples]

Practice makes perfect. This is certainly true for political engagement and successful election campaigns. Of course, a lot of the know-how comes from experience. But training courses for staff, candidates and volunteers are effective tools and important opportunities for the sound preparation of campaigns, and, in particular, ahead of decisive phases of election campaigns. It is at moments such as these, when the time to prepare has long passed, that everything must run smoothly and quickly fall into place.

For what objectives are trainings well suited?
– Collective brainstorming activities
– Development of strategies and concepts
– Sharing and exchange of knowledge and experience
– Preparation of concrete campaign situations
– Further development of participants’ personal competencies
– Team building and motivation

Examples of campaign preparation themes
– Strategy and campaign planning
– Time management and responsibilities
– Developing messages
– Volunteer work
– Fundraising measures
– Internal communication
– Media training
– Public speaking
– Personal communication at the campaign stall

It is generally advisable to call upon professional trainers, coaches or facilitators, who possess the skill set required to accompany or guide successful workshops. They have experience in the subject area, can encourage knowledge sharing and productive working relationships, and know how to best overcome and moderate sometimes difficult situations. External trainers have the added advantage of being able to see things from a fresh and objective perspective. This commonly leads to better results.

The Green European Foundation and GreenCampus (the training academy of the Heinrich Böll Stiftung in Germany) both have considerable experience organising and carrying out workshops of this type. GreenCampus has a far-reaching international network of trainers and experts. If you’re interested in a workshop or anything else that’s on offer, please just get in touch (contact details can be found via the above links).

Of course, not every workshop and not every personal coaching session has to be accompanied by paid external trainers. Own means and resources are often sufficient for the concrete preparation of campaign situations and for the exchange of knowledge.

Above all, it is important to establish and agree on a shared objective (for example, ‘after the workshop, we want to be better at convincing potential voters in the street’, or ‘I want to receive open and honest feedback on my speeches so that I can further improve my skills’). For workshops with a large number of participants, it’s usually a good idea to pick someone with experience (acquired at university or through other projects, for example) to moderate exchanges.

Below are three suggestions for smaller groups. These can be implemented as they stand, but could also be usefully complemented by contributions to the Best Practice section of the Campaign Handbook.

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