My time working in politics has taught me that stories are one of the most powerful ways to communicate ideas and show why people should care. From meeting immigrants from Vietnam and Russia, to talking to iron workers, to talking to parents, every voter has a story to tell.

When it comes to political campaigns, these stories are important because they showcase the “why” behind policies and how voters decide which candidates they are voting for. The question remains though, how do we use stories to gain votes?

On a previous campaign, I met a woman from Vietnam who escaped before the fall of Saigon as a single mother with two children. She talked about what life was like in Vietnam, how she raised her kids without help from the government in America, how she found her American dream, and how those experiences shaped her political views.

After hearing her story, I knew it was powerful. It was a story that deserved to be shared and would help sway voters, but how could I get her message out to the world?

The first thing I thought of was recording a video of her sharing her story in her own words and in her own voice. A testimonial video. Through testimonial videos, campaigns have the opportunity to use voters’ voices and words to advocate for policies or candidates. Did you hear a story from a voter that you think should be shared? Record it, then post it. It can and will change minds.

Now you have a video that has been sent into the world, but don’t let the story die there. Candidates can speak about that story during speeches and when talking to voters and explain how stories like ones from Vietnamese refugees, iron workers, or other voters have shaped why they are running and the policies they want to implement. The power is in the story.

While the story of a single mother and Vietnamese refugee is powerful, every voter’s life experiences and stories shape their views and can be just as meaningful. Listen for these powerful stories while on the trail. Remember them, and tie them into your campaign to create the narrative you want to share, and show voters you listen to them.

Anika Rickard