Updated 3rd August 2020
Introductory workshops and talks suit audiences that are unfamiliar with effective altruism. Use them for newcomers’ events or for presenting to non-EA groups. This page describes interactive workshops and talks of varying lengths. If you have only a short amount of time with the group, delivering a talk may be most suitable. Otherwise, we recommend workshops. The interactive activities help participants engage with the ideas and give them more opportunities to ask questions and clear up misconceptions.
First impressions are crucial, so it’s worth learning how to represent EA well and avoid common pitfalls. The guide on communicating about EA covers various ways of expressing EA concepts and common questions and objections. Catherine Low has also produced this guide on running introductory workshops and presentations.
Playing a video introduction to EA and discussing it afterwards is one way to kick off an introductory event. Pre-recorded talks may be a good option if you have little time to prepare, your organisers are not confident public speakers or your group is small enough that a casual event is more appropriate.
Two options are :
- Will MacAskill’s TED talk from 2018: “What are the most important moral problems of our time?” (12 minutes).
- Ajeya Cotra’s more in-depth introduction to EA from EAGxBerkeley in 2016 (35 minutes).
The links provide slides and a suggested script for an EA talk. We recommend you to modify these scripts to include what drew you to EA and how it EA affects your life.
- Eric Gastfriend’s introduction to EA (16 minutes) was used as a guest lecture in a Rationality class.
- EA New Zealand’s introduction to EA (20 minutes) is used to introduce EA to non-EA clubs and workplaces.
- EA New Zealand’s very short introduction to EA (4-minute version) is a mini version of the above talk. It can be used with or without slides at the start of introductory events. Suitable for newcomers.
- EA Stanford’s introduction to EA (35 minutes) is based on Ajeya Cotra’s talk linked above.
- EA Stanford’s short introduction to EA (10 minutes) is a short version of the above talk.
- Social Programs Quiz (5 minutes) is a fun activity to slot within an intro talk if you have time. Participants have to guess whether each of the four social programs do good, cause harm, or have no measured effect. Very few people get all four correct, which shows that we need evidence and analysis to find the best ways to improve the world. It is based off 80,000 Hours’ social programs quiz.
Introduction to EA with the Giving Game
The giving game is a great way to introduce EA concepts for presentations taking longer than 45 minutes. An organiser introduces a few charities and asks people to decide which should receive a pot of money. It is more engaging than lectures and provides a concrete example of the use of EA principles.
This Google Drive folder contains all the materials needed to run an introduction to EA involving a Global Health and Poverty Giving Game. The presentation takes about an hour and a half, but it can be adapted to shorter and longer times. It includes PowerPoint slides, a sample script, handouts about the charities, frequently asked questions, and a video of this presentation in action. The presentation and its variants have been used with over a hundred audiences.
For introductions to EA, it is usually best to restrict charities to a single cause area. In cross-cause-area giving games, participants often become distracted by their favourite cause and pay less attention to evidence. Remember to explain the breadth of EA after the game.
For global poverty-focused giving games, the Life You Can Save can sponsor money going to charity. They will sponsor $5 (or 5 Euro or 5 pounds) for each high school student, $10 for each university student, or $20 for each professional. For details on sponsorship, go to this guide from The Life You Can Save.
Introduction to EA with Cause-Prioritisation Activity
Cause-prioritisation is one of the most important and unique aspects of EA. While it is a difficult job to choose between different cause areas, it is possible to introduce the concepts of cause-prioritisation and teach people to apply them in a 1.5-hour introduction to EA.
This Google Drive folder has all the materials needed for a workshop that introduces EA and cause-prioritisation. It gives participants an activity to use the Scale, Neglectedness, Solvability framework to assess three to six cause areas. It includes PowerPoint slides, a sample script, information sheets on six cause areas, and a worksheet.
Introduction to EA with Animal Charity Giving Game
This 1 to 1.5-hour introduction to EA with a giving game involving animal charities is designed for introducing EA to animal rights and vegan groups. The giving game has people choosing between The Humane League, the Good Food Institute, and a local animal shelter that focuses on pets.
This Google Drive folder has a PowerPoint slide and a handout about the charities for this presentation. You’ll need to change some of the information to suit your local area. Ideally, you should find out enough about an animal shelter near you to allow for a cost-effectiveness comparison. Two data points are the number of animals helped per year and the shelter’s annual expenditure.
Note: This presentation isn’t as well-resourced or well-referenced as the ones above.
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