Esse est percipi. To be is to be perceived.
Given all the brouhaha surrounding the LPNH twitter account (and the slight disturbance of the coup attempt), it’s time to explore how we are being perceived. We have a lot of justified outrage over the spears we’re taking from within the national LP: alt-right, Nazi, racist, bigot, hate-filled, and the list goes on and on.
But just as absurd as these labels are, so is the common response from MiCaucs that, “They just hate us because we’re winning.”
Do you really think that’s the extent of it?
How are we actually being perceived by those that don’t know us?
We need to admit that we are in favor a more bold, shocking, offensive (and offensive) style of messaging. That kind of message is easy to be mistaken as shit posting, edge lording, trolling, or whatever. Poor messaging is poorly received.
Let it be said loud and clear that I fully support our messaging style. The point of this article isn’t to temper down our boldness, it’s to get MiCauc members to start thinking more about how to put out a strong message and avoid negative perceptions.
I want to give three tips on putting some strategy behind your message to make it more effective. Whether you’re putting out a tweet, Facebook post, op-ed, or even speaking to an audience, here is what you can do to step up your game to the next level. Five minutes of planning can turn a shit post into something that brings in new MiCaucs (or ousts some bad LPers).
From my background as a military training instructor, and having taught hundreds of other classes, I break things down into three quick steps: know what my goal is, know who my intended audience is, and focus my message.
Always think first about what you’re trying to achieve. Do you want to inform, surprise, inflame, persuade, shock, awe, inspire, teach, preach, threaten, get attention, or what are you aiming to do? Your goal can be whatever you want it to be but you need to be crystal clear on what that is. Write your goal down. Until you’re finished this should be your working title. Be specific. “Persuade my state chair to vote yes to remove JBH as national chair.”
Next you need to know to whom you’re speaking. There are a lot of reasons for this but here is the main one: you need to know why your audience will care about what you have to say. You will never achieve your goal if you can’t make your audience care. What part of your message will reach the hearts and minds of your intended audience? “Mr. State Chair, please vote to remove JBH as national chair. I have a lot of MiCauc friends that are registering today and they will vote for or against you at the next convention depending on your decision in this matter.” Do I have your attention now?
Note that I keep saying “intended audience.” Not the entire world. Don’t worry about anyone outside of those you want to reach. If an outsider decides to jump in then my default response has always been, “I wasn’t talking to you.” When I want to speak to that person or group I’ll address them; until then they can take a long walk off a short pier for all I care. The reason I don’t care is your message needs to be focused. Narrow the scope of what you want to say and only say that thing. One or two solid ideas will always beat ten poorly thought out and rambling ones. Don’t give in to the desire to add explanation or justification. Avoid going down rabbit holes and off on tangents. You should have one thing to say to one audience that meets your goal. Once you have a focused message then you can focus on how your message looks and sounds.
Every word you write is there to meet your goal and connect with the audience you want to reach. Your choice of words, the tone you take, references you make, stories you tell; all of it needs to be laser focused. Learn the difference between active and passive voice. Get rid of mealy-mouthed coulda, woulda, shoulda type words. Command the language with authority.
These things also affect how people perceive you and your message. This little bit of planning can have a huge impact. And not only on you. You might be the first Libertarian or MiCauc that your audience has talked to. Like it or not they will judge the whole group based on you and your message.
Esse est percipi. How will you be perceived?