It's not glamorous or show stopping, but event tabling is an important part of the work that needs to be done to raise awareness about an issue, get signatures for petitions or advertise for events. This guide will cover:
How to set up
Campuses often have public student spaces where groups can table. They tend to be high traffic areas and therefore in demand spots. Make sure to go through the proper booking channels well in advance of your event so that you can sell tickets or create a hype well before. Tables are sometimes rented by the university or held at the student union. Arrive earlier than the given time slot to account for the time it takes to find tables, set up and prepare.
Try to make the table stand out as much as possible. Hang a banner across it, tape posters to it or use displays. Sometimes it helps to add a projection screen behind the table to attract attention. Try to give people a sense of the event: if it's a band, blast their music. Think about who should be tabling. If you're simply raising awareness, try to get someone who is affected by the issue to do outreach. People are more likely to respond to personal stories.
Lay the materials out on the table in an attractive way. If tabling outside, consider bringing rocks to weigh down leaflets. Try to have incentives for people to approach the table. Candy or baked goods are a good way to lure folks in. Have a can for pay-what-you-can donations. Hand out leaflets, buttons or stickers. Wearing a button is an easy way to show support and spread the word about a campaign.
Try to stand in front of the table rather than behind it. This makes it easier to chat people up and attract them to the table. Make eye contact and smile. Keep your pitch short and sweet so you can gauge a person's interest.
Make it as local and as specific as possible by mentioning the location, time and date. Agree on a few sentence summary of your event, campaign or issue before hand. Say hi to folks standing in the general area and use the pitch. If someone is obviously not interested, move on. There are so many folks out there eager to get involved it's better to focus on them.
When striking up conversations, don't run right into the pitch. Start with small talk or ask if they have heard of your campaign. Try to get email addresses. No matter what the tabling is for, email addresses can help build a network to disseminate information on any subject. It's the kind of outreach that just keeps on giving! If you have a petition to sign, exploit the inconvenience of lines; approach people stuck waiting in line for the bathroom or to get food.
People quickly tire of tabling - keep shifts between an hour and two hours in length.
If you're excited about being there, people are more likely to talk to you so live it up. Dance, interact and have fun.
Make sure to have extra leaflets on hand to give out to people who don't have time to chat, so they can read more about your cause/event later.
Don't forget to clean up afterwards.
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