Workshops/talks ideas

Workshops/talks ideas

Last updated: 4th October, 2023

We strongly recommend that you read our guide on deciding which developmental events are right for you before looking at this page. It will give you some useful tips and ways to approach choosing which events to hold.

1. Organising speaker events

Description: Getting an in-person or virtual speaker to host a talk.

Length: 1-3 hours.

Cost: low; usually the only costs are food, potentially venue, and speaker time.

Target audience: new members, fellowship participants/graduates, experienced members.

Pros: (i) high quality information can be shared; (ii) an interactive Q&A can enhance understanding; (iii) professional connection can be built.

Things to consider: (i) can be difficult to get high numbers; (ii) information often already exists online - see CEA’s Youtube channel here (iii) learning is often passive and participants do not engage beyond a question here or there.

Organising Speaker Events

2. Forecasting workshop

Description: Forecasting is the process of estimating or predicting future outcomes with probabilities. It is based on existing data, knowledge, and methodologies. This workshop aims to teach people about forecasting and enhance their skills.

Length: 1-3 hours.

Cost: low; usually the only costs are food, potentially a venue, and prizes.

Target audience: new members (but slightly less applicable), fellowship participants/graduates, experienced members.

Pros: (i) Enhances forecasting abilities through practical experience; (ii) promotes clear thinking and decision-making; (iii) fosters community engagement and friendly competition.

Things to consider: (i) Requires careful question design to avoid manipulative strategies; (ii) May need manual scoring that you create yourself and can be done by participants without difficult computations.

Forecasting Workshop

3. EA research methods, a hands-on workshop distilled


Length: The workshop spans multiple sessions, each lasting approximately one to two hours. The overall duration may vary based on the depth of discussions and engagement.

Cost: low; primarily includes materials for reading and practical exercises. If external speakers or facilitators are involved, there might be additional costs.

Target audience: individuals interested in effective altruism, research methods, and prioritisation in altruistic actions. Participants should have a basic understanding of the principles of EA.

Pros: (i) Develops critical skills: participants learn how to analyze, prioritize, and evaluate interventions effectively, enhancing their decision-making abilities; (ii) Promotes engagement: engages participants in practical exercises, making the learning experience interactive and memorable; (iii) Supports EA community: fosters a community of individuals interested in evidence-based altruistic actions, potentially leading to collaborative efforts; (iii) Empowers attendees: Equips participants with tools and frameworks to contribute meaningfully to the field of effective altruism.

Things to consider: (i) Multiple sessions may require a significant time commitment from participants, potentially limiting attendance; (ii) The workshop involves technical concepts and materials, which might be challenging for newcomers to the field; (iii) Organizing speakers or acquiring reading materials may require additional resources.

EA research methods, a hands-on workshop distilled

4. Fermi estimation competition

Description: Fermi Estimates are rough numerical estimates of unknown quantities, named after physicist Enrico Fermi, who was famous for making uncannily accurate estimations with very little data. Usually, Fermi estimates are made by splitting up the problem into several factors that we can approximate and then doing a simple calculation. This guide on LessWrong (by Luke Muehlhauser) gives more information, and examples of Fermi estimates. Fermi Estimation Competitions can be prepared by choosing a bunch of numerical questions that participants are unlikely to know off the top of their heads and finding the correct answer on the internet. See the page below for further information:

Length: Typically around 40 minutes per competition.

Cost: Requiring pens, papers, question sheet, whiteboard (optional) or Av equipment, and access to online resources if running virtually.

Target audience: Members of EA and AI safety groups or interested, action-oriented individuals excited about joining your group!

Pros: (i) Provides an interactive and educational activity centered around Fermi estimation, enhancing participants' analytical and problem-solving skills; (ii) Promotes friendly competition between people, which can be a fun, motivational way to build skills, (iii) Encourages teamwork and group discussions, fostering camaraderie and social interactions among participants; (iv) If run at a large scale, estimations can offer the opportunity to participate in worldwide competitions, connecting EA groups globally and adding a competitive element; (v) Can be easily run and is fun!

Things to consider: (i) Due to the nature of the competition, the event may be relatively short and may not result in much bonding or create strong ties with other people and groups.

Fermi-Estimation Competition

5. 80k advising application session

Description: A short session where everyone applies to 80k advising.

Length: The program consists of three tracks, each lasting 5 weeks, with a total potential duration of 15 weeks.

Cost: Minimal cost, requiring online collaboration tools and potential facilitator time.

Target audience: Individuals seeking career planning guidance and alignment with effective altruism principles.

Pros: (i) Provides participants with a structured framework and accountability to engage in meaningful career planning; (ii) Offers a guided and facilitated approach to the 80,000 Hours career planning course, allowing participants to delve deeper into each section; (iii) Facilitates group discussions, enabling participants to bounce ideas off peers, share insights, and learn from each other's experiences; (iv) Divided into three tracks, the program ensures a logical progression through different career exploration and planning stages.

Things to consider: (i) The program requires a time commitment from both participants and facilitators, which may limit accessibility for some individuals; (ii) While offering valuable guidance, the program focuses on career planning within the context of effective altruism, potentially excluding those with different interests.

80k advising application session

6. Giving game

Description: Gameplay: Participants choose a charity, place money or tokens in containers, and engage in a short discussion. Engage participants with an attention-grabbing opening line, explain the game, describe the charities briefly, and introduce effective altruism and your group.

Length: Short, typically a few minutes per participant.

Cost: Requires funding for charitable donations and materials (money, tokens, containers, sign-up forms, posters).

Target audience: University students, attendees at Clubs Fairs, and tabling events.

Pros: (i) Offering money attracts people to the table, and interactive gameplay engages participants; (ii) Promote Engagement: Gets participants thinking about different approaches to doing good and opens a discussion about effective altruism; (iii) Educational Opportunity: Provides a platform to discuss effective altruism concepts and introduce your group to potential new members.

Things to consider: (i) Limited Time: the quick nature of the game may not allow for in-depth conversations; (ii) Simplified Choice: participants might choose charities based on limited information, (iii) Potential Distraction: attracting participants with money might not necessarily lead to long-term engagement with the group's ideas.

Giving Game

7. Lighting talks

Description: A lightning talk is an activity where one or more speakers each present a very short talk that lasts only a few minutes each (usually 5-10 minutes). Speakers are usually already members of the group.

Length: Varies from 10 seconds to 2 minutes (default is 20-40 seconds) per participant.

Cost: Minimal, requires preparation of prompts, flipchart, and potentially AV equipment.

Target Audience: University students, small to medium-sized group events, workshops, fellowships, and conferences.

Pros: (i) Engages speakers and audience members actively in discussions; (ii) Allows participants to share key ideas, changed viewpoints, and neglected concepts; (iii) Provides a structured platform for exploring EA-related topics and concepts; (iv) Enables speakers to receive feedback on their ideas and presentations.

Things to consider: (i) The short time frame may restrict the in-depth exploration of ideas; (ii) Some participants might find it challenging to speak up in a short time frame.

Lightning Talks