The careers of some of the country’s leading politicians began at university. Jack Straw, for example, served as President of the National Union of Students. So if you’re looking to have a say on how your university is run, or simply want to challenge yourself, learn new skills and have/connect-with-us/how-to-make-your-voice-heard-on-campus/ fun in the process, here’s our guide to getting elected on campus, whatever role you’re going for.
Write a great manifesto
For most student elections, you’ll be required to submit a ‘manifesto’, explaining what makes you suitable for the position and outlining how you intend to approach it. Some things to bear in mind if you want to make your manifesto as persuasive as possible:
Make sure the content is relevant
Concentrate on what you can offer, not on your opponents’ shortcomings
Set out realistic goals that you will aim to achieve during your term
Try to stick to one side of A4
Make sure it’s well-presented and easy to read
Run it past people to see what they think before you submit it
Ask your friends to spread the word
There are lots of traditional ways to get your message out there on campus, including posters, handouts and flyers. But don’t forget, one of the most effective – and certainly the cheapest and easiest – means of communication is word of mouth. Tell everyone you know that you’re running and encourage them to tell their friends about your campaign and what makes you a great candidate.
Use the power of social media
Social media is another cheap and effective way of getting yourself noticed. You could even stand out by creating your own viral video campaign. It could be something as simple as creating a Facebook Campaign page and/or Twitter handle then encouraging followers to share your posts. Remember to keep these active throughout the campaign too, keeping fans updated of your progress, it will help you to be remembered.
Shine at hustings
You may find you are invited to pre-election ‘hustings’. These are events where candidates get to pitch themselves to voters and field questions about their candidacy from the crowd. At some point, you will be required to make a speech. There is lots of speechwriting advice available online if you need it. Some basic tips are to:
Write how you speak
Keep it short and to the point
Target it to your audience
Learn it off by heart (or as close to off by heart as you can)
Try to relax
When it comes to the Q&A session, the more preparation you can do the better. Read back through your manifesto. Think about the questions you’re most likely to be asked and work out how you would answer them, clearly and succinctly. If you can, practise out loud in front of the mirror (you may have to wait until your housemates are out!).
Talk to as many people as possible
There’s a reason why students on the campaign trail spend so much time knocking on people’s doors. Speaking to people face to face is, without doubt, one of the most effective ways of securing their vote. So get out there, meet people and convince them why you are the best person for the job.
Don’t break the rules
Breaking election rules is a bad idea, not only because it’s wrong but also because it could lead to your vote count being reduced or, in serious cases, complete disqualification. So before you start campaigning, make sure you are fully aware of all the regulations you need to follow. For example, there could be restrictions on how much money you can spend (if any).
Running a student election campaign is a great way to build up your confidence, experience and skills. If you want to continue developing and challenging yourself after you leave university, then our Management Trainee Programmes may be the answer. Why not check out our graduate opportunities today.