By: Caleb Neale, International Trustee
So you’ve thought about it long and hard, and you’ve decided you want to take that next step in serving your community. You want to run for higher office.
Be it a district board or Key Club International Board position, it can be incredibly intimidating just thinking about the speeches, caucusing and pressure. Believe me, I’ve been there.
Intimidating isn’t the same as impossible though, and it definitely isn’t the same as not worth it — because trust me, nothing is more worth it. Get out there and run for office. Here’s how:
Proper planning and preparation prevent poor performance.
Whether it’s preparing a speech or material for caucusing, it’s imperative to make sure that you’ve taken the time to prepare yourself for what’s ahead. This isn’t a test you can cram for, but anyone can be your study buddy, and a mirror makes a great audience. Practice being comfortable with yourself and what you have to say. You know you’ve got this — it’s just a matter of convincing everyone else.
Whatever you decide to go for, you’ll likely have competition. With so many things in common, it’s easy for the faces and speeches to blend together. Forty minutes into House of Delegates, and half of your audience may very well be half asleep. Give them something to remember! Worry less about trying to blend in or stick out, and worry more about playing to your specific strengths. Work on showing who you are in a way that’s authentic and relatable. After all, who could forget someone as special as you?
Do study and practice. Don’t memorize.
Whether it’s speeches or caucus questions, it’s often easy to pick out those who know what they’re talking about and those who simply have a list of memorized talking points or answers. Just like when you study for a test, don’t prepare specific answers. Instead, study your platform and your Key Club knowledge, and the information will roll off your tongue when you need it. You’ll sound much more authentic and prepared. You’ve got this!
Get ready to not know.
It’s gonna happen. You’ll be standing behind a podium, wearing your best “I want to be your next (insert position here)” smile, and someone will ask a question that you have no idea how to answer. Rather than letting that internal scream out and running for the door, get OK with saying “I don’t know.” Be prepared to offer a suggestion for self-improvement, and mention how you’ll handle not knowing information in a leadership role as well. After all, you’re a candidate, not an encyclopedia.
Get a buddy.
Having someone by your side the entire time is invaluable. Sometimes the pull of endless friends and fun is distracting. You need someone who can help you resist distractions. Find a buddy who will take the awkwardness out of introductions, listen to your ideas and offer moral support when your heel breaks, your tie rips and your dog eats your speech. It was about as necessary to me as wearing my Key Clubs socks the first day of convention — that is to say, absolutely necessary.
All in all, I know you can do this. I can tell you from personal experience that being in any type of higher office in Key Club is so, so worth it. Don’t let fear rule. Reach out to your trustee if you need anything, and show the world what awesome leaders Key Club has!