Tabling is a great way to attract and recruit new people and build a sense of group identity. The basic idea is to set up a table on your campus where there is a lot of traffic (the student union, dining halls, the academic green, the downtown square). As people walk past your table you want to educate them about issues and get them to sign up to get more information about DM!
Make your table stand out with bright provocative posters “Democracy Needs YOU!” Make YOUR Voice Heard!” etc. Use the DM banner and have handouts and sign up sheets to capture contact information and names! Offer candy??? Have a quiz or game ready to engage people. See Games & Booths & Quizzes.
You want to use your tabling campaign to educate and encourage action. Have people sign a letter to an elected official, sign a petition, agree to come to a meeting, or sign a mailing list, etc. Here are some important tabling tips:
Frequency is key. You will be much more successful if you table at regular intervals, such as every week. Use this schedule to your advantage. Rather than use the same pitch every week, try focusing on different, related issues, for example: how money in politics influences the environment, civil rights, or health care. (See Issues Campaigns.)
Tabling should be dynamic and interpersonal. Use your imagination to pull people in! Look busy. Don’t just sit behind the table! Stand in front of it and encourage people to come have a look – ask them a provocative question, e.g. “Do you think you have a voice in our democracy?” “Did you know that the last election campaigns cost 6 BILLION DOLLARS?”, etc.
Make it easy. If you’re out in front of the table, carry a clipboard and some information so you can sign people up on the spot. Also, put a name or two at the top of your petition. (Nobody likes to be the first). Keep your efforts focused. Don’t, for example, petition for two things at once. Have someone behind the table ready to talk longer with interested students. (See Petition Campaigns & Democracy Pledge.)
Be prepared. As with canvassing it’s good to work in pairs. You can train DMers to be assertive by doing some role-playing with each other – coming up to the table, acting bored, interested, antagonistic, whatever.