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Grassroots Outreach Basics

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This training addresses everything you ever wanted to know about grassroots outreach (tabling, scheduling, and giving presentations) highlighting bite-sized best practices in the art of preparing for both tabling and presentations and what to do once you get there.

This training is also part of the Core Volunteer Training series.
TOC and Guide Section
Outreach during social distancing

Volunteer and our communities' safety is the number one priority for CCL and as such our continued suspension of all tabling activities for the organization is still in effect. We very much look forward to getting back out there and doing what we do best, building relationships, but given the current circumstances we must prioritize the health and safety of all our climate advocates.

Because volunteer and public safety is a very high priority to us, CCL recommends that we keep all chapter activities virtual until further notice.If you have any questions or concerns about this policy, please feel free to contact Donald Addu at don@citizen

In the meantime, here are several recommendations for ways to find alternatives to traditional in-person tabling outreach:

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 sign up 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 net 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 the writing 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 who 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 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.

Preparing your presentation

You can use the solution-based CCL's introductory slide deck created by the Presenters & Schedulers Action Team, or create your own from scratch. If creating your own, review the presentation sequence research for tips on how to best construct your presentation so that your audience hears your message and acts on it.

Here are some other tips on how to prepare for your big moment:

  • Watch this six minute How-To Prepare for Presenting Tutorial for tips on dealing with the logistics of presenting, ten questions to ask your host, and suggestions for your equipment.
  • Verify ahead of time what your technology needs are. You may need a computer, the presentation, projector or ability to connect to a host’s projection system, connecting cables, clicker, and, if needed, someone to help you with setup.
  • Practice in front of the mirror until you become comfortable.
  • Visit the scheduling presentations training for more information about the process of scheduling a presentation, where to look for presentation opportunities, and the resources and support available for schedulers.
Tips for presenting
  • Bring sign up sheets and some action they can take immediately (postcards or letters to their member of Congress, Text to Join).
  • Dress nicely.
  • Arrive early and have equipment set up 30 minutes ahead of time.
  • Move around and make eye contact.
  • Describe, don’t label.
  • Refrain from using abbreviated acronyms like “MOC” or “LTE.”
  • Refrain from using too many difficult to understand terms like “externalities” and concepts that are hard to grasp like “internalizing costs of carbon.”
  • Focus on the main messages about the Energy Innovation Act: It’s effective, good for people, will benefit our economy, is revenue neutral and bipartisan.
  • Create ownership: this is our challenge to face together.
  • Refrain from demonizing others, including fossil fuel companies.
  • Have at least one powerful message from a trusted messenger. In the Statements from Trusted Messengers Presentation, there are a variety of messenger slides to help you customize to your audience or you can use CCL' s standard quote treatment slide to create your own.  
  • Focus on mitigation of climate change, not adaptation.
  • Speak from the mountaintops, don’t fight in the trenches. We have a moral imperative to act, responsibility to our children, families and communities.
  • End with empowerment and how your audience can be a part of solutions. Make it clear how to join CCL and find out more.
After your presentation
  • Once you’ve given your presentation, it’s time to share your success!
  • Ask your group leader to submit a field report or do it yourself so that your outreach gets counted.
  • Make sure to follow up promptly with your contact to thank them for the opportunity to present and for any connections made afterward.
  • Share pictures taken at your presentation to social media accounts like Facebook and Instagram.
Press play to start the video (32m 57s)
Video Outline
To skip ahead to a specific section go to the time indicated in parenthesis.

Intro & Agenda
(from beginning)

Beginning to Table

Socially Distant Tabling Resources

How To Schedule A Presentation

Giving A CCL Presentation

  • Dave Cain
  • Tal Dickman
  • Brett Cease
Discussion Topic
To Print
Instructions for printing this page on Community.
Grassroots Outreach
Audio / Video, Presentation
File Type
Google Slides, PowerPoint (.pptx)