Last updated: 4th October, 2023. We plan to update this page further in the coming months.
1. Importance of club fairs
Most universities have a yearly activities fair or freshers' fair where new students go to learn about what extracurricular activities they can get involved with at their uni. We think these fairs are a particularly important place to promote your EA group.
1. Unique access to many students in one place at one time - much higher student footfall than elsewhere 2. Unique attitude held by attendees - they are explicitly looking for new & exciting things to get involved with
For these reasons, we think you should focus on making your activities fair go really well.
We think it makes sense to invest a good chunk of your resources in the first semester towards the fair, since it is so important compared to other events & programs.
2. Getting a place at the fair
One big failure mode for the activities fair is not being able to have a stall there! Make sure you find out well in advance (during the summer, the earlier you can find out the better) how spots are secured. Some steps you might want to take: (i) find out who organises the fair and contact them; (ii) find out when signups open; (iii) find out what is required for signups; (iv) on the same day signups open, register your stall (sometimes places run out!). If they do run out/you can’t register, we recommend you go to the club fair and chat to people who may be interested in EA; e.g., those who are running stalls for societies that might be EA-related.
3. Preparing a great stall
The physical appearance of your stall can make a big impression!
How exactly you want to present your group should be determined a lot by your sense of the norms & culture at your university, but we think it might be good to appear: (i) professional; (ii) well-put-together & tidy; (iii) have a clear brand identity & unity of design; (iv) happy & excited to be there (potentially the most important). This usually means having a stall that is clean & not overly cluttered. Get a nice tablecloth in a matching colour, and high-quality banners and/or posters. You'll need to think of a call to action for people who stop at your stall (see below); we recommend getting people’s emails. Preparing your stall also means making sure you know who will man the stall and when. Make a schedule for your group leaders & communicate clearly with them about where they need to be & when; we think that the fair is extremely important so it’s worth investing your strongest organisers time on this.
4. Physical items to bring:
- Roll-up banners
- Two well-charged laptops for people to sign up on
- Tape and/or pins and/or blu-tack and/or clips
- EA t-shirts
- Food and drink for group leaders
- Paper & clipboards & pens
5. Preparing calls to action
One of the most important things your activities fair needs to succeed is a clear, easy, and appealing call to action: the action you will ask people to perform. You need to settle on ideally one, maximum two calls to action (CTA). It needs to be something the person can do right away - so 'attend our first event' is no good, but 'sign up here for our first event' works better. The other thing your call of action should do is give you the ability to follow up - so getting their email is great, although something like joining a Facebook group could work too. We think the best call to action is “sign up to our mailing list to hear about all our events!”. Alternatives could be:
- Sign up for our first event of term here!
- Sign up for our fellowship here!
- Sign up to be told about the results of our giving game!
- Join our Facebook group!
- Follow us on Instagram!
Once you've settled on one, you need to make it easy and frictionless to carry out. If you’re using a mailing list, we don’t recommend having a URL or QR code to sign up to a mailing list; have them sign up on your device.
6. Preparing a great pitch
At an activities fair, you will be pitching the concept of EA over and over again.
You'll probably want to practice a good pitch that you can repeat to students who stop at the stall. However, don't be afraid to deviate from your mental 'script' and update based on how you feel it's being received. Pitching EA can be hard, because there are a lot of complex ideas, and we don't have one particular pitch we think you should always use. In fact, you probably already know what works well as a group leader.
So, we just have three items of advice:
- You can vary the length of your pitch for the amount of foot traffic you have
- If you have a lot of foot traffic, and a long pitch means you'll miss out on lots of students walking past your stall, then try and keep the time from initial engagement to performing the CTA at no longer than 30 seconds.
- If you have less foot traffic, you can afford to have more of a real 'conversation' with students.
- Your pitch should start with a question, ideally a yes/no question, and you should know what you'll say for either answer
- For example: 'Have you heard of Effective Altruism before'?
- Yes → Great! Where did you hear about it?
- No → Would you like to hear a bit about it now?
- We think this question works well because it elicits buyin to the conversation, and stops you from making an intro pitch to people who already know EA
- If you have more than one group leader manning the stall, make sure you schedule in a time for them to practise their pitch & form a plan for the fair
7. On the day
- Actively engage as many people as you can
- Stand in front of the stall if you're able, rather than passively behind it
- Try to catch the attention of every student who walks past
- Activities fairs can be really draining because you are talking to a lot of people and there's not loads of downtime
- Try to get as many of your group leaders to take part as you can, so that you can each have relatively shorter shifts
- Unless you know you have loads of stamina, don't schedule yourself in for more than ~3hrs in a row
- It's good to take breaks to rest & refuel
If you were in the ‘Events: Workshops/Talks and Socials’ section, see below for your previous and next pages:
If you were in the ‘Outreach and Communication → Freshers’/Orientation/Club Week’ section, see below for your previous and next pages:
If you were in the ‘Outreach and Communication → Verbal Communication Guide’ section, see below for your previous and next pages: