RUNNING A GROUP

One-on-Ones

Updated 17th March 2020

This page was compiled with resources from EAF, CEA, EA Oxford, EA Israel, and the LEAN team.

Contents

This is about group organisers meeting new and current members of the EA community to have in-person conversations (one-on-ones). The section below outlines the benefits of one-on-ones, and some reasons why they may be important (or not) for your group. It also contains some important tips collected from the community and additional resources.

One-on-ones are often reported as being one of the most valuable activities of an EA community. They are useful for many different purposes, including:

  • Sharing information about EA topics, and responding to questions and concerns.
  • Providing motivation .
  • Building relationships between organisers and community members, and between community members .

Generally, the purposes for a one-on-one meeting are: meeting a new member (Intro one-on-ones), meeting a current member (Mentor one-on-ones), meeting to discuss careers (Career one-on-ones) or meeting to discuss donation opportunities (Donation one-on-ones).

Why and Why Not?

Why one-on-ones might be relatively important for your group:

  • If many group members are quite new to EA, and have lots they want to learn.
  • If the group covers a large geographic area, one-on-ones may be a significant means of engaging people who live some distance away from other group members or from where events are often held.
  • If many group members have busy and less flexible schedules, making it harder for them to attend events.
  • If what many group members want from the group is guidance on specific topics, such as wanting to learn specific skills, be more productive, or learn about different cause areas (rather than wanting to feel part of a community more generally).
  • If group members would like career guidance or feedback.

Why one-on-ones might be less important compared to other activities:

  • There isn’t anyone in your group that is comfortable and capable of offering one-on-ones. This might be if you aren’t that knowledgeable about effective altruism, or you may not feel able to answer common questions, or find one-on-ones socially challenging. It is important that the person running one-on-ones is good at making people feel comfortable and welcomed, because if a prospective member doesn’t click well with the person leading the one-on-one, the experience may deter them from getting more involved.

  • Your group does not have the capacity to run both one-on-ones and other types of events and group members primarily want to experience a community.

Introductory and Mentor One-on-Ones

Before you start introductory one-on-ones, read the EA Hub pages on communicating about effective altruism, so you have a few good ways of explaining EA, and know some common questions and concerns. Also check out the EA Hub resources to learn about effective altruism, so you are familiar with resources and organisations you might be able to refer the group member to.

This guide from EA Oxford leads you through introductory one-on-ones and mentor one on ones, from finding leads, to following up.

Career One-on-Ones

Career one-on-ones are discussion about an individual’s career path, possible options open to them, and information about EA movement career advice. These discussions can also be conducted in a small group.

This guide from EA Israel is a tool to help EAs who are considering conducting career consultations with their group members. This Values and Personal Fit question list from EA London contains questions you may like to ask during your one-on-one.

Advising group members to take high-impact career paths has enormous potential upside, but can cause harm by encouraging someone to take a path that is unsuitable for them. 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 a bit weird to some people, at least initially.

Some tips to relieve this 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, which will hopefully make it obvious you aren’t asking them on a date!
  • Use phrases like “grabbing a coffee and chatting about X”.
  • Have the meeting in a public space - e.g. a cafe or park.

Timing

  • Schedule a meeting as soon as possible after someone expresses interest.
  • 30 minutes seems to be a good time for a session.
  • If you are planning on doing an introductory seminar, then personal interaction can be a crucial factor in getting people to sign up for it.
  • Check-in with people the day before a one-on-one and make sure they are still available.
  • Don’t run overtime: Discuss at the start how long each of you have for the meeting, then finish by recapping the resources you intend to send them.

During the meeting

  • Try to make the conversation balanced - spend much of the time listening. This can be harder to do when the meeting is a conversation about EA, and you are the resident expert on EA. Use the questions from EA Oxford’s guide, or EA Cambridge’s question list to encourage the other person to talk more.
  • You might want to get drinks or food, this will make both people more committed to investing time in the conversation.
  • Keep in mind how much exposure to effective altruism ideas they’ve already had. If you use acronyms and other jargon, make sure these terms aren’t going over their head.
  • Pay attention to their willingness to change their mind when presented with compelling arguments or evidence (from Tobias Pulver) .
  • Asking people what motivates them to care about particular areas is a good way or gauging their depth of knowledge and how much they’ve already thought about doing good.
  • You might like to take notes as you go about resources you want to send them afterwards.

Afterwards

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

Additional Resources


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