Tabling: There’s More to It Than Meets the Eye
Tabling can be a great way to increase visibility for AAUW and spread the word about AAUW’s work. But there’s more to it than sitting at a table with brochures. Below are some tips and tricks for making your tabling event extra effective. And we’re here to help — consider us your resource and sounding board.
If you’re not already in touch with AAUW’s public policy and government relations staff, please e-mail us at email@example.com.
What Is Tabling?
Tabling is exactly what it sounds like — setting up a table with information and sign-up forms at a college or university, conference, farmers market, or other similar high-traffic location where you can recruit potential members and inform them about your chosen policy issue. You could ask people to sign up for your state e-mail list, for the AAUW Action Network, for Washington Update, or to receive more information about joining AAUW. You could also ask people to sign a petition or pledge about your chosen policy issue.
Tips and Tricks for Effective Tabling
Set up your table in a high-traffic area with good visibility. If people can’t see your table from far away, they will be less likely to stop by.
Make your table look neat and professional. Use a tablecloth and display a large AAUW banner at the front of the table (this will also help with visibility!). You can order a 3-by-5-foot AAUW banner from ShopAAUW if you do not already have one. Place large logo or slogan signs around the table, especially if you do not have a large AAUW banner. If people don’t know what your table is all about, they probably won’t come by. Also, be sure handouts and brochures are stacked neatly so your table does not appear messy.
Have a focus. AAUW does a lot of good work, and that can be overwhelming if it’s all displayed on one table. Therefore, choose a specific issue or program to focus on (such as equal pay or women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) during your tabling event. You can always focus on a different issue or program at your next event! Try to choose an issue that will be relevant for the specific audience. For example, if you are tabling on a college campus in the fall before an election, you may want to have voter registration forms and voter education information.
Make an ask or two. You always want to do more than just inform people about a particular issue or program — you want them to also take action! For example, you could ask them to sign up for the Action Network or sign an equal pay petition. If you are tabling on a campus that is an AAUW college/university partner member, you could sign students up for e-student affiliate membership. Depending on whether your tabling location has Internet access and electrical outlets available, you may be able to set up a laptop for people to join Action Network right then and there or sign an online petition.
Lose the chairs! People are far more likely to walk right by and not stop when people are sitting behind the table. You want to have at least one AAUW member standing in front of the table talking to people as they walk by. And you want at least one person standing behind the table to assist in handing out materials and answering questions.
Engage passers-by. The AAUW member standing in front of the table should approach people as they walk by instead of waiting for people to come to them. You want to go out and actively invite them over to your table. It helps to develop a good “stopper“ line — something you can say to people as they are walking by to grab their attention and draw them toward the table. For example, you could say something such as “Are you worth 23 percent less?” or “Sign the petition for paid sick days,” depending on what you have at your table.
Have a giveaway. People are enticed by freebies and are more likely to stop by your table if they get something for doing so. If possible, have stickers or another swag item that you give away for free. AAUW has plenty of stickers on different public policy issues. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to hear what we’ve got and request materials.
Advertise your event. Put up flyers and send e-mails announcing that you will be tabling at a certain location on a certain date and time. The more people who know about your table in advance, the more people will stop by.
Follow up afterward. Get in touch with the people who signed your petition, joined Action Network, or requested more information. Phone or e-mail will work, although a phone call can be more personal. The follow-up conversation is an opportunity to make another ask, such as coming to an upcoming branch meeting, joining the Action Network (if they haven’t done so already), or sitting down for a one-to-one conversation so you can learn more about each other’s interests.
Don’t forget to let us know how your tabling event went by filling out this form.
Resources to guide activists in advocacy efforts.
With just a little bit of effort, you can generate attention and momentum around an issue, grow your list of advocates, and pressure lawmakers to act.
Take a moment to read about the latest issue in Congress. Then take one more minute to e-mail a message to your member of Congress.