Here are a few take-aways from this excellent workshop I attended yesterday led by Kaja Rabane, founding member of South Central Wisconsin Move to Amend:
How do people think?
We’re led to believe that when people hear new information, they:
– Evaluate whether it makes sense
– Then connect it to their own lives
– And use it to make decisions weighing the costs and benefits, choosing the best options using a fundamentally rational process
How people really think?
– The world is a complicated place. We evolved to be able to operate within it. People not as analytical machines
– Research shows how new info is perceived depends on what’s already “in people’s heads.” Logic is secondary to emotion.
– We naturally think in stories with a protagonist, antagonist and conflict resolution. Stories paint pictures in people’s minds with shared moral values. People are more interested when facts presented in the context of a narrative. We remember them better
The role of emotion:
– Tells us what’s important
– Facts only matter when emotion tells us they do Ways to reframe Move to Amend message to make it more gripping:
On money in elections: “Big money is turning our elections into auctions, and our elected officials into corporate servants.
Our government shouldn’t be for sale to the highest bidder. “ “We’ve all been at a party where one loudmouth talks nonstop – nobody else can be heard. That’s what’s happening here.”
On corporations: “Even a small child can tell the difference between Monsanto and a person – so why is this so hard for the Supreme Court.”
– Frames are conceptual structure that organizes our thinking
– Ties together into a coherent whole
– Lens through which we interpret issues
– Emphasized certain aspects and renders others invisible Framing and Reframing
– Choose good frames
– We must contest the opposition’s frames and present our own alternative reframe (Show how their frame doesn’t explain well and provide a different frame)
– Appeal to higher level ideas
Level 1: Core Values: freedom, democracy, responsibility, community
Level 2: Issue Types: economy, environment, and election integrity
Level 3: Specific issues: climate change, corporate personhood, money as speech
When reframing, try to move up to a higher level
– Also part of the frame – important.
– People identified as “advocates” often don’t make good messengers.
– Consider your audience. Try to find a “neutral” or “objective” person to present your message.
When using numbers or statistics
– Frames trump numbers
– Stats alone are ineffective – no pics in our heads
– Always tell people what numbers mean
– Lead with meaning, not numbers
– Numbers give your story credibility but are not themselves the story
Our Role as Communicators
– Help people make sense of the world
– Connect the dots into a coherent whole —
– The general rule is when conveying information: “if you don’t feel it, don’t use it.”