DemLabs blog

How do you get someone with very different beliefs to support your cause? Frame the discussion to align with their existing beliefs.

Framing is an effective persuasion technique, but how can it be taught to new volunteers so they can apply it quickly? How can they learn and practice 'framing' skills independently, at their own schedule? How can this be done quickly, remotely and without any budget?

A grassroots group needed an affordable solution to train volunteers on framing and other communication skills. They designed an online course with Quizlet (a free app) and a little help from DemLabs. Their interactive course explains how to 'frame' issues using explanations, questions, images and audio recordings. Students take the course and practice the skills on a phone or laptop at their own schedule. Their progress is monitored to see who has completed the course and how well they answered the questions.

Quizlet is can also be used to teach a rang of topics such as:
- how to handle common questions while canvassing
- how to phrase fund raising requests
- how to answer concerns about the 2020 census
- keeping campaign staff trained on the latest talking points

"We absorb new information by mentally fitting it into our existing belief systems. This allows us to process information quickly and get on with our lives. People use frames, to interpret events. Framing gets the broadest possible public support for an issue by aligning with people’s existing belief systems." - GLAAD/MAP

How good are you at framing? Take this two minute quiz: 'How to frame an issue'.
Click on the FLASHCARDS icon. Choose the SPEAKER icon to turn on audio.


"Conservatives know the importance of framing. They use frames to evoke beliefs in a few words. Tax relief is an established frame, that implies taxation is an affliction or burden. A conservative can quickly 'frame' an issue by describing it as 'tax relief'. A progressive on the other hand, without a frame to use has to give a long explanation. Progressives should go beyond the typical laundry list of facts, policies, and programs and frame a clear moral vision." (Paraphrased from 'Framing 101' by - George Lakoff )

How conservatives use framing
"Use terms that help frame your issue in a positive light and put your opposition on its heels.
For example, on abortion, focus on the life of the unborn “child” and its right to life, not the “choice”; on education, focus on providing the “choice” for a better education; on the death penalty, focus on “guilt” and “justice”; on guns, focus on the right to “self-defense”, etc.
Keep the spotlight on the victim, (or the potential victim). Who’s being harmed, or will be? And why is the opposition OK with that? Make them defend it.

If you fail to focus on the heart of the matter, you’re more likely to get sucked in to a debate that is centered on the liberal world view, which means that you end up fighting on their terms. Sort of like being asked, “When did you stop beating your wife?” There’s no way to respond that doesn’t make you look bad." - Drew McCissick

Quizlet is a large online learning community with over 50 million monthly learners. Subjects are taught in the form of digital flashcards that students read and listen to. Students are immediately told if they answered correctly and their progress is continuously monitored. Quizlet also identifies questions that students are struggling with for the training can be improved.

Use free online apps, like Quizlet to quickly train volunteers on framing and other skills. Learn more about applying free apps for digital training here.

Co-Founder, DemLabs

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DemLabs applies innovative technology and storytelling tools in service of democratic values. It lowers the barrier of funding for worthy candidates and non-profits by applying existing free/affordable solutions.