Tabling At An Event

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This training reviews the basics of tabling - one of the best ways to educate and encourage people to take action - and provides specific practice scenarios for volunteers to prepare for active listening and effective communication skills while doing outreach.

TOC and Guide Section
Core Focus For 2022

As you engage the public, it’s important to know what CCL's core message is for Congress and the White House this year and how to engage all citizens. . Right now, our job is to keep pushing our elected leaders to honor America’s pledge to reduce emissions 50% by 2030. A price on carbon is critical to achieving those cuts.

We want to continue to call on Congress to act on climate. Through tabling, we can engage the public to email President Biden and the Senate Democrats using CCL's Carbon Price Action Campaign Flyers.

Whenever you are with a group of people, ask them to use their phone to go to our Take Action tool to write the President and any Democratic Senators they have. Take pictures when you do this to use in social media posts.  Go big and do as many education and outreach events as your chapter has capacity for.

Be strategic, collaborate with nearby chapters and adjust as you plan so that you can reach as many people in your community as possible with the resources you have available. Also consider doing a TV or Radio interview to further leverage your local event.  

Preparing for tabling

Before you table, there are few steps to take:

  1. Confirm logistics. Know the dimensions and layout of your booth, if they provide table and chairs, and if you have internet access and electrical plugs.
  2. If you need insurance to table, fill out this form.
  3. Put together a team. Schedule a team to work the event - tabling is more fun with friends. Keep shifts manageable, typically one to two hours.
  4. Practice laser talks, including key communications like Messaging For the Energy Innovation Act.
  5. Schedule follow-up. Designate someone to follow up with the folks who signup and coordinate the processing of constituent letters and postcards.
  6. Look over this training's "Resources" tab to determine what you will need when you table and determine how you'd best like to print them out. 
Tabling recommendations

When tabling, consider the following tips:

  • Have a least one person standing in front of the table.
  • Focus on what we are for (strong climate policy, including putting a price on carbon pollution/greenhouse gas emissions and returning all funds collected to the American people).
  • Avoid turning off people by raising “hot button” issues.
  • Be yourself, speak conversationally and listen carefully.
  • Avoid using dire warnings of climate doom and always couple dire with solutions attendees can get involved with (hint: CCL).
  • Be respectful and mention your member of Congress by name.
  • After a visitor signs up, check to make sure it is legible and that you have their zip code.
  • Ask passersby to write a letter or postcard to their local member of Congress.
  • At family-oriented events, coloring pages for kids keeps parents at your table longer. 
Decide on table activities
  • Education and enrolling Monthly Calling Campaign callers are two oldies but goodies.
  • Other creative options include faux dividend checks, climate coloring books, yard games, and offering a free cookie to table visitors who write to Congress using on their phone. 
  • Remember: Very few people that you speak with at a tabling event will become active volunteers. However, lots of people are willing to complete a smaller action with one of our online action tools on our Paperless Grassroots Outreach training. Why is communicating with Congress so important? Staffers say repeatedly that hearing from constituents has a big impact. Generating many calls raises our credibility with congressional offices because it shows that we are in district creating political will for them. Folks who take the time to contact Congress are prime candidates for CCL because they are interested in communicating with their elected officials. 
  • Engage enthusiasts - Prepare for table visitors who are eager to do more. For example, you might invite them to our Wednesday Informational Session or your next chapter meeting. They can also join CCL using on their phone (they will be added to the roster of their closest CCL chapter).
Example tabling conversation

Be yourself and try to keep CCL's values in mind when speaking with others. A conversation at your table may go something like this:

Open:“Hi! I’m Jamie. I’m a volunteer with the Newport chapter of Citizens’ Climate. Thanks for being out here to celebrate Earth Day. What brought you out here today?

Let them respond and listen. Acknowledge what they said and ask for permission to proceed. “Would you like to hear about what we’re doing?” Let them respond and listen.

Acknowledge what they said and ask for permission to proceed.“That’s an interesting point and something we are concerned about as well. Would you like to hear about what we’ve learned?” “Would you like to join us for an introductory call Wednesday night?” “Would you like to send a letter or postcard to your member of Congress today?”

Some people will be dismissively cynical, claiming “there’s no way your proposal will make it through Congress.” Don’t get defensive, instead acknowledge their frustration and inspire them by describing how the conversation has changed because of the work we’re doing. Tell them about the power of putting a price on carbon and engage them in their questions, harnessing frustration into empowerment.

Other event attendees might feel that a carbon fee and dividend policy compromises their efforts. Use the Handling Challenging Questions resource to help explain that climate solutions like a price on carbon is not a replacement for what others are doing; it complements their efforts. Applaud them for what they’re doing. Ask questions about their work and be interested.

Following up after tabling

After the event, there are a few things left to do, ideally best in the first 24-48 hours.

Press play to start the video (17m 13s)
Video Outline
To skip ahead to a specific section go to the time indicated in parenthesis.

Intro and Grassroots Outreach Review
(from the beginning)

Tabling Basics: What, Where, When

Preparing to Table

Connecting With Attendees

  • Tamara Staton

View the Google Slides presentation.

Download the video from Vimeo.
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Press play to start the audio (17m 13s)
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Audio Outline
To skip ahead to a specific section go to the time indicated in parenthesis.

Intro and Grassroots Outreach Review
(from the beginning)

Tabling Basics: What, Where, When

Preparing to Table

Connecting With Attendees

  • Tamara Staton
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Go Deeper
For additional information on tabling basics, check out our training on Grassroots Outreach Basics. For more examples of creative tabling approaches, check out the Creative & Engaging Tabling Ideas training
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