RUNNING A GROUP

One-on-Ones

Updated 16th July 2020

This page compiles resources from EAF, CEA, EA Oxford, EA Israel, and the LEAN team.

Contents

Compared to other activities in the EA community, new and current members of EA groups see immense value in private meetings with group organisers. We call these in-person meetings one-on-ones.

We outline the benefits of one-on-ones and reasons why they may or may not be relevant to your group. We also collect practical tips from the community and other additional resources on this page.

In general, one-on-ones are useful for:

  • Welcoming new members (intro one-on-ones)
  • Guiding current members (mentor one-on-ones)
  • Discussing career options (career one-on-ones)
  • Discussing donation opportunities (donation one-on-ones)
  • Sharing information about EA topics
  • Responding to questions and concerns and
  • Building relationships between community members

Your Group: Why and Why Not?

A group can only host so many different types of activities. Every group’s member-base varies, as does its leaders’ strengths and weaknesses. Your emphasis on one-on-ones may differ depending on these factors.

Your group may benefit more from one-on-ones if many members are:

  • New to EA and eager to learn more about the community and its cause areas
  • Struggling to attend events or engage with each other, whether because of busy schedules, living too far away, or other reasons
  • Seeking guidance on specific topics such as skill-building, productivity, volunteering opportunities, and career decisions
  • Working on EA-related projects and would like feedback

One-on-ones may be less important than other activities if leading members:

  • Find one-on-ones socially challenging. Making others feel welcome is critical, especially when speaking with newer members. An uncomfortable experience may deter them from getting more involved
  • Have insufficient knowledge about effective altruism. Organisers should be able to answer common questions with ease
  • Lack the capacity to run both one-on-ones and different types of events

Introductory and Mentor One-on-Ones

Before you start introductory one-on-ones, read the EA Hub pages on communicating about effective altruism. They provide a few good ways to explain EA and highlight common questions and concerns. Also, familiarise yourself with the EA Hub pages about learning about effective altruism. You can refer group members to the resources and organisations there if needed.

Finally, EA Oxford produced a guide that details the entire process of introductory one-on-ones and mentor one-on-ones, from finding leads to following up.

Career One-on-Ones

EA offers a unique perspective on individuals’ career paths. Career one-on-ones provide a platform to discuss career aspirations and consider EA-aligned options. You may also conduct these discussions in small-group settings.

EA Israel produced a guide to conducting career consultations with group members. EA London’s Values and Personal Fit question list provides prompting questions for your one-on-one.

If done correctly, advising group members to take high-impact career paths has enormous potential upsides. But suggesting unsuitable career choices may also cause harm. Seek advice if you’re unsure whether you are ready to conduct career one-on-ones.

Donation One-on-Ones

Donation one-on-ones involve chatting to a prospective donor about where they could donate. Two group organisers have collated some thoughts on running donation one-on-ones.

Tips

One-on-ones can seem weird to some people at first.

Tips to relieve awkwardness:

  • When you first bring up the option of having a one-on-one, let people know this is a regular activity your group does – make it obvious that you aren’t asking them on a date!
  • Use casual, but specific phrases like “grabbing a coffee and chatting about X”.
  • Meet in a public space such as a cafe or park.

Timing

  • Schedule a meeting as soon as possible after someone expresses interest
  • Thirty minutes is a suitable length for a session
  • Check-in with people the day before a one-on-one to confirm their availability If you are planning on presenting an introductory seminar, personal interactions are a perfect time to extend an invitation
  • At the start of the meeting, find out how much time each of you has to talk. Don’t run overtime

During the meeting

  • Balance the conversation. Spend as much time listening as you do speaking. Listening can be harder in a discussion about EA when you are the resident expert. To encourage the other person to talk more, use questions from EA Oxford’s guide, or EA Cambridge’s question list
  • Consider getting food or drinks. People are more likely to commit to a conversation when there is food on the table
  • Keep in mind how much exposure the other person has had to EA ideas. Explain acronyms and jargon that would otherwise go over their head
  • Pay attention to their willingness to change their mind when presented with compelling arguments or evidence and act accordingly. Avoid unnecessary tension. Tobias Pulver writes more
  • Gauge their depth of knowledge and extent of thinking about doing good. Asking people what motivates them to care about particular cause areas is a smart way
  • Take notes as you go about resources you want to send them afterwards
  • When the meeting ends, recap the discussion and list the resources you intend to send them

Afterwards

Send a follow-up email with a personalised list of reading recommendations.

Additional Resources


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