Tabling During a Pandemic

Tabling During a Pandemic

By Sue Ballenski

Tabling is one of CCL’s greatest tools offering opportunities for one-on-one conversations with people we might not normally reach. For many of our chapters, tabling is one of our primary means of outreach, but doing so one-on-one in times of COVID-19 can be a challenge. A challenge that the Durango chapter took on this summer when they tabled at the Durango Farmers Market.

Like many areas, the Market and city/state ordinances require masks and social distancing. Kirby MacLaurin, who organized and staffed the table, found the usual way of engaging folks with eye contact and a smile was missing, as well as the market-goers’ usual curiosity. 

Looking for new approaches, Kirby found that what worked best “was good old-fashioned friendliness.” Calling out appreciation of shopper’s flowers or beautiful vegetables created a human connection that pulled people over to start a conversation. The table team also hung a board with enlarged QR codes, linked to CCL’s online information. This was not as useful as envisioned since many people did not know what the codes were or how to use them.

Key lessons:

  • Create a way to catch people’s attention and bring them over to the table. Our usual friendly approach is literally masked, so what visuals can be added to the booth to catch people’s interest?
  • Kirby suggested finding “a way to directly address the pandemic situation in a way that disarms folks” with perhaps a humorous banner as a means of drawing attention.
  • Instead of a board of multiple QR codes, use only one code linked to CCL’s Join Page, along with mounted, enlarged CCL information that people can read or take pictures of.
  • Be prepared to take those extra steps demonstrating friendliness and engagement.
  • Be hopeful and upbeat. Kirby noted in a nearby booth was a woman with a 6-month old baby. They drew many comments, brightened people’s lives, and reminded everyone of what is really important.