How To Table 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.

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How To Table An Event is part of the Grassroots Outreach Topic Series.
TOC and Guide Section
 
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. 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.
  3. Practice laser talks. Practice key laser talks and your delivery before the event. 
  4. Schedule follow-up. Designate someone to follow up with the folks who signup and coordinate the processing of constituent letters and postcards.
  5. Look over this training's "Resources" tab to determine what you will need when you table.
 
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 (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.
 
Collecting letters

Very few people that you speak with at a tabling event will become volunteers. However, lots of people are willing to complete a smaller action like writing a letter. Make sure they include their name and address on the letter or postcard. Avoid having them take the letter or postcard with them as most often these will not get written. Highlight that your team is offering to mail it and have them hand-delivered it to their member of Congress via the CCL Envoy program.

Why are letters so important? Staffers say repeatedly that hand-delivered correspondence has a big impact. Letters raise our credibility with congressional offices because it shows that we are in district creating political will for them. Folks who write a letter are prime candidates for CCL because they are interested in communicating with Congress.
 

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 Energy Innovation Act! This will turn their frustration into empowerment.

Other event attendees might feel that a carbon fee and dividend policy compromises their efforts. Use the Responding to Public Questions resource to help explain that CCL’s policy 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.

Length
Press play to start the video (35m 37s)
Video Outline
To skip ahead to a specific section go to the time indicated in parenthesis.

Intro and Agenda
(from the beginning)

Tabling Overview
2m 38s

Preparing to Table
8m 21s

Connecting With Attendees
16m 06s

Practice Communication Scenario
24m 39s

Final Takeaways
31m 17s

Instructor(s)

Susan AdamsTaylor Krause

Downloads
Audio length
Press play to start the audio (35m 38s)
Audio embed code
Audio Outline
To skip ahead to a specific section go to the time indicated in parenthesis.

Intro and Agenda
(from the beginning)

Tabling Overview
2m 38s

Preparing to Table
8m 21s

Connecting With Attendees
16m 06s

Practice Communication Scenario
24m 39s

Final Takeaways
31m 17s

Instructor(s)

Susan Adams, CCL Third Coast Regional Coordinator

Taylor Krause, CCL Special Projects Coordinator

Go Deeper
For more examples of creative tabling approaches, check out the Creative & Engaging Tabling Ideas training
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Category
Training
Topics
Grassroots Outreach
Format
Audio / Video, Presentation
File Type
Google Slides, PDF (.pdf), PowerPoint (.pptx)