Getting Ready to Take Action


According to history, the phrase “keep calm and phone bank” originated in 2020 when a Vote Save America volunteer — we’ll call her Pam — fought back against her phone bank nerves, took a breath, smiled while she dialed, and absolutely crushed her calls. When asked what helped her get from 0 to 60 calls in no time, she replied, “Well, I made the script my own. Also, a gummy.”

We at Vote Save America can help you with only one of those things.

Whether you are knocking on doors or making calls, it is crucial that you sound like, well, YOU! During a canvass or phone bank conversation, we want voters to feel as though they’ve been heard, not just talked at — and that includes sounding like a real-life human. Editing a script lightly to make it your own is one effective way to ensure you have a positive conversation with a voter. But this is just one part of getting ready to take action – we have a bunch of other tips that will help you feel prepared when canvassing and phone banking.

Here’s what you’ll get with this resource:

  • Guide on how to make a script your own
  • A “Make the Script Yours” Worksheet
  • Top tips for phone banking
  • Top tips for canvassing

Let’s jump in!

Guide on how to make a script your own

  • Get to the point!
    • Scripts can often start wordy and have lengthy introductions – which can make it hard to handle impatient people on the other end of the conversation. 
    • Repetition can be effective at times, but when you’re at the beginning of a conversation with a voter there are things you can skip/consolidate to expedite the process of getting to your first ‘ask’!
  • Determine the talking point/issue in the script that you connect with the most.
    • After you determine you are talking to the correct voter, the script often includes multiple issues the candidate/campaign supports, this is another opportunity to curate the multiple options to fit you!
      • Trim the list of issues down to the one that you care about the most. This is the issue that you’ll best be able to speak about.
      • But keep in mind: Listen to your organizer! If they stress that the campaign is focused on a specific talking point that should be a one that you include.
  • How to stay on track
    • When facing a person who is unsure or wants to know more, you can use a 3-part response as a jumping off point (Talking Point, Personal, Pivot) to help you get back on track to get through your ‘asks’.
      • Reference a provided talking point
      • Touch on your personal reason/story relating to a talking point
      • Then you can pivot back to the initial ‘ask’
    • This part of a conversation can call on you to share more of your personal story and your reasons why. Click here to check out the VSA Personal Story Sharing Resource, where you’ll find a deeper dive on personal story structure and creation.
  • Use the magic listening phrase: “Tell me more.”
    • Almost — and we mean literally almost, not every — voter response can be replied to with a “tell me more.” Here are some example voter responses when it would be appropriate to use:
      • I’ve heard of [candidate] but I don’t agree with what they stand for
      • I don’t know if I’m going to vote
      • I don’t get involved in politics
    • For the last one, VSA volunteers have had success with “I’d actually like to hear more about that, but we don’t have to talk politics right now. If you had a superpower to change one thing, what would it be?”
    • For all three examples above, and any others that are similar, the point is to find a phrase that works for you that gives the voter an opportunity to say more about how they feel. This helps build connection with the voter.

“Make the Script Yours” Worksheet

Ready to put these tips to practice? Check out our “Make the Script Yours” Worksheet (view only version) where you can make personal edits to a sample script, a script that you might get while taking action. It includes guiding annotations of the script to show how you can make it yours. Head to the VSA Community Slack to ask questions and get feedback on your script edits/ideas from VSA staff and your fellow VSA volunteers!

(Reviewing the script before taking action and making it your own is The NUMBER ONE Top Tip that’s shared by both phone banking and canvassing!)

VSA volunteers join a virtual phone bank from Florida
VSA volunteer Amy N. makes calls with a couple of her friends!

Top Tips for Phone Banking

  • Tip #1: Get into the Zen Zone.
    • Making calls is not everyone’s favorite thing. Remember that you’re not alone in this feeling! So until calling is old-hat for you, it’s great to get into the zone at the beginning of your call session. Grab your favorite beverage, listen to your walk-up song, and watch this 2-minute pep talk from Favs! Finally, remember that it is a rare phone bank where you don’t walk away with a few calls that will restore your faith in humanity. Getting into the Zen Zone will help you brush off the hang-ups, and laugh at the (very rare!) mean person you’ll talk to. Four tips in one! You’re welcome.
  • Tip #2: Smile while you dial.
    • If you go to a lot of phone banking trainings, you will get tired of hearing this! But that doesn’t make the tip any less fabulous! Smile especially when you say the first sentence — those first crucial seconds of a call. This will help hook the person you’re speaking to. Smiling does something else that’s great for phone banking: it makes you happy. And the happier you are, the easier phone banking is! That said, there’s no need to smile for the entire call — just be natural.
  • Tip #3: Add a few key phrases to the script.
    • “I promise, this will take just a minute of your time!” (when it really is a short call) or: “I’m not calling to ask for money.” When people know it’s a political call, they are often afraid of a long call or a fundraising ask. 
    • “Thanks for being a voter!” It’s important to use that exact phrase rather than “thanks for voting,” because messages about “being a voter,” rather than just “voting,” have increased registration and turnout in state and national elections.
    • “It has been so delightful to talk with you!” or “Calls with people like you really make my day/make volunteering to phone bank worth it!” Phrases like these leave people feeling great that they’ve talked to you.

Top Tips for Canvassing

  • Tip #1: Practice doesn’t mean perfect
    • Practicing your opening line to the voter is important: you only have about 30 seconds to engage the voter’s interest. Practicing is key to readiness
    • Getting good/comfortable at it is like building a muscle, the more you do it, the better and stronger you get
  • Tip #2: Know your rights & the rights of others
    • Canvassing is NOT solicitation: you are not selling anything.  Political canvassing has been ruled by the USSC repeatedly to be protected first amendment free speech.
    • Leave literature on doors not mailboxes & don’t remove other lit or signs
    • Respect NO TRESPASSING signs (it is the law). 
  • Tip #3: Smile and be friendly
    • Just like with phone banking, except they not only hear your smile they actually see it! You’ll convey approachability and friendliness: that you like what you are doing. 
    • Take a step back after knocking or ringing the doorbell. Standing too close and crowding the door may be perceived as aggressive
  • Tip #4: Have a few key phrases in your back pocket
    • Helpful phrases ready to go, to engage the conversation in the first few seconds