Written by Lena Martinović
As it is July, most societies are starting to plan their promotional strategies on how to attract more members to their society. There are multiple ways how to do so, and my best recommendation is to look into what your university offers and what you as a society can afford. In this article, I will highlight some tips and tricks that we as EDS think are useful for every society to know.
At EDS, our biggest event for attracting new members are the Beginner’s Workshops. The training event is organized over two evenings, during which participants are introduced first to public speaking, and then the following week, to British Parliamentary. This week is meant to introduce the society to students, so we also take participants out for drinks afterward. We also talk about the things we do as the society, such as members weekend, Christmas dinner, various socials, etc. At the end of the evening, you should sit by the exit and get people to sign up as members. People are more likely to become members if you hand them all the information, rather than let them find it themselves. When you organize the second week of the training, when you show what BP debating is all about, make sure to have a show debate! Showcase what debating is all about with a fun and accessible motion that everyone can enjoy.
But in order to get people to attend the Beginner’s Workshops and sign up, there is some work that needs to be done beforehand. Promotion of the event is done both in person and via the internet.
During Eurekaweek, Erasmus University’s annual introductory week for students, we have a stand where we talk to students and introduce the society to them. You don’t have to send your best debaters to this, because a personal approach, where people tell their anecdotes and stories on how debating has impacted them and what they can do. Mention that you get to explore different cities in Europe by maybe showing a map of where your society and its members had been in the past year. For many students, debating in English is a huge barrier, so tell students that their English will improve. What we do during the Eurekaweek, we also collect email addresses of interested people, in order to keep them informed. Use this list later, to remind people to come to the workshop. In the past, we have usually used a piece of paper where we had people write their name and email. I would recommend using a computer (it will save you time transcribing! ☺)
I would also suggest making flyers that you can give to students that come to visit your booth. I would also check with the board organizing the promotional week if you can add your flyers to the students’ bags, so that you can reach as many students as possible. Also, if your promotional budget allows it, you can also give gifts to participants. A little trinket or two, that students can remember your society.
Ok, so the in-person part of promoting the Beginner’s workshops is over. Don’t forget to also promote it online! Facebook has a really nice function where you can target advertise the event. What this means is that you can promote the event to certain groups or interests. So for example, you could target it to anyone from ages 17-24, that goes to Erasmus University Rotterdam and has liked BBC, The Economist or something similar. Another thing you can do is use your university’s online notice board. To avoid having the message buried with other news, I would recommend having it posted a few or so times. Make sure it is posted one or two days before the event.
Finally, make sure to update the facebook event with the information on the event. Posts on trainers with their picture, a schedule, plans for afterwards, etc are all useful to keep the engagement of the page going.
What I would also recommend is to contact the people booking the rooms for your practice evening. They are likely to know, or could point you in the direction of the promotional department of your university and you can see what is free or what has a low cost so that you can promote your society. At Erasmus University, you can hang up a poster on the notice board for free. We also hire hanging space in one of the buildings, where we display a larger poster. We usually book it during the weeks of beginner’s workshops, so that people are more incentivized to come, since it doesn’t require any background knowledge.
You can also organize another round of workshops in late January, early February for the second semester exchange students, or for those that would like to start debating, but could not do so earlier. The practice would be similar, however you are likely only going to be able to use the online promotional platforms, rather than the information stands. Even if your university offers an information stand, the cost likely would not justify it.
Written by Anna Wesdorp
Meeting someone and finding out that she will become a dear friend, is probably one of the best things that can ever happen to you. When I first met Linsey, I saw a lovely student with an amazing fashion taste. A connection between the two of us came rather quickly during Maastricht Open. I found out that there was more to her than just a student that had debating as a hobby/lifestyle. So, who is Linsey?
“I grew up in a small village named Woubrugge, which is close to Leiden. One of the clearest memories I have of my youth, is when I was around seven years old. A friend of mine and I made a drawing with chalk on the sidewalk. We were so proud of what we made, but my neighbor became angry and removed the drawing with water. I don’t know why, but this had quite the impact on the young me.” Linsey was born in 1997. She started debating in high school. The reason why was quite ironic. “Because of an injury, I wasn’t able to play football, which led to me having lots of spare time. When my teacher of subject Dutch asked me to join the debating team, I thought it was nice to try it out for once.” Little did she know that one debate would quickly turn into years filled with debates.
At the moment, Linsey studies history in Groningen at the university. She also works at the university in Groningen and sometimes spends her weekends debating. In Groningen, she debates at GDS Kalliope, where she is also the treasurer and vice-president. On top of that, she currently also fulfills these functions in the board of the ‘Nederlandse Debatbond’. “One moment I would love to experience again is the NK finale of 2018. When we broke to the finale, both Joris and I were surprised that we made it and it was a very lovely moment. I still feel very proud of that moment.”
Linsey isn’t one to give up quickly. She describes herself as a hard worker with a lot of things on her agenda, as stubborn and one who doesn’t give up very quickly. “Every day, I try to be a better version of myself. I don’t like to compare myself with others. I think I mainly got this attitude from my father, so in a way, he is an inspiration to me.” She tries to live by the rule: “Be better than you were yesterday.”
In the future, Linsey has set a few goals for herself. Within debating, she would love to break at a big international tournament as EUDC and WUDC. Outside of debating, she wants to keep reaching her goals considering losing weight, traveling a lot and getting her bachelor diploma.
For me, Linsey is this source of positivity and a lot of experiences. She is a very strong woman who definitely knows what she wants. Not only is she an amazing debater, but also an amazing person.