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Talking Points

Talking points refer to the carefully crafted messages, statements, or ideas that politicians, political parties, or interest groups use to convey their opinions, policy positions, or arguments to the public.

Talking points are an essential tool for candidates and campaigns to shape the narrative, influence public opinion, and mobilize support.

Origin of “Talking Points”

The term “talking points” originated in the world of public relations and media relations, where they referred to the concise and memorable statements that spokespeople or representatives would use to communicate key messages to journalists during interviews or press conferences.

Over time, the term has evolved to encompass a broader range of communication strategies and tactics used by political actors in various contexts.

William Safire noted that he first heard the phrase as a White House speechwriter when President Nixon would often say, “Never mind preparing formal remarks for this bunch, just give me a page of talking points.”

Talking points serve multiple functions in politics and political campaigns.

First, they help candidates and campaigns articulate their positions on complex issues in a simple, clear, and compelling way — often in a stump speech. They’re typically used as a guide and not read word-for-word. By boiling down policy proposals, statements, or messages to their most essential components, talking points enable politicians to communicate effectively with a broad audience and avoid being bogged down in technical details or jargon.

Second, talking points allow candidates and campaigns to stay on message and avoid getting sidetracked or distracted by irrelevant or hostile questions. By anticipating potential challenges or objections and preparing pre-scripted responses, political actors can control the narrative and steer the conversation towards their preferred topics and themes.

Third, talking points enable candidates and campaigns to create a consistent and coherent image or brand that resonates with their target audience. By repeating key messages, slogans, or phrases across multiple channels and platforms, political actors can reinforce their identity, values, and vision, and build familiarity and trust with voters.

Fourth, talking points help candidates and campaigns frame issues and debates in a way that favors their positions and objectives. By using persuasive language, emotional appeals, and strategic framing, political actors can influence how voters perceive and evaluate policy proposals, events, or rival candidates.

Fifth, talking points serve as a shorthand or shorthand reference for complex policy issues or topics. By using memorable slogans or catchphrases, political actors can communicate complex ideas or proposals in a simple and accessible way, making them more understandable and memorable for voters.

Finally, talking points can be used for strategic purposes, such as attacking opponents, deflecting criticism, or responding to unexpected events or developments. By preparing well-crafted responses in advance, political actors can avoid appearing defensive, evasive, or unprepared and maintain control over the narrative.

Use of “Talking Points” in a sentence

  • During political campaigns, candidates often receive a list of talking points from their party, which they use to stay on message and promote their platform.
  • The senator’s remarks during the press conference were filled with party-approved talking points, but she avoided answering any tough questions from the media.
  • The debate between the candidates was contentious, with each one sticking to their talking points and avoiding any real discussion of the issues at hand.