Political activists converged on New Richmond on Saturday to pick up a few hints on how to become more effective.
Matt Batzel and Brett Farley with the American Majority organization were on hand for the morning training session at the Church of Christ in rural New Richmond.
About 20 people attended the gathering, being hosted by Annette Olson, Glenwood City, who is affiliated with the Uninfringed Liberty and Women United for Liberty organizations.
"The goal is education," Olson said prior to the training session. "The state is so hyped up right now, people need to be educated. We want to make sure they have the tools they need to get the message out. Knowledge is power."
It's clear that standing on the Wisconsin Capitol's steps and "just yelling" is not an effective way to present a group's message, Olson said.
Using social media, rallies and letters to the editor are better ways to communicate the taxpayers' growing frustration with the status quo, she said.
"We need to get people motivated and moving," she said.
Batzel said the demand for American Majority's training has grown tremendously since the civil unrest began in Madison.
"We've been inundated with training requests recently," he reported.
Saturday's training session in New Richmond was the first of seven "Instant Activism" seminars planned across the state in April.
"We do the training in a non-partisan way," he said. "We want to help organizations achieve their political goals. The training sessions have been very well received."
Many new activists don't know how to express their views in a way that would convince others to change their minds or to form an initial opinion on an issue, Batzel said.
"Instant Activism" goes through 10 steps that an individual or local organization can take to promote a specific political candidate or to sway the public's opinion on certain topics.
State Rep. Dean Knudson (R-Hudson) stopped by to listen to the training session. He congratulated the individuals for "honing" their activist skills.
"We're in a battle now," he said. "It's not a party battle; it's an idea battle."
On one side of the spectrum are the taxpayers, who are "looking for something different," Knudson said.
"We're giving them something different," he said. "We're trying to return power to the people."
On the other side are the "tax and spend crowd" who want to retain the "status quo," he said.
Knudson urged the group to press forward and make a difference.
"It's not a time to sit back," he said. "It's a time to get moving."
As the training progressed, Farley told the group that telling "your story" is the best approach to communicating a message.
"Direct conflict is the least effective approach," he said. "You can never debate someone into agreeing with you."
Sharing personal experiences can make a difference, however, he said.
"It's how you bring a person across the bridge," Farley said.
Other topics covered during the session included voting integrity, social media use and voter education.
The American Majority organization is a non-profit, non-partisan training institute that was formed in 2008. Its mission is to train and equip a national network of leaders committed to individual freedom through limited government and the free market.
The organization's Wisconsin regional office was opened in October of 2010.
For more information, visit http://americanmajority.org/.