Meetup Tip: Nametags
Nametags are nice to have at meetups. When I was planning my second big meetup, I typed “nametag” into Amazon and got these. They’ve worked great but whatever your local stationary store or online shopping service suggests is probably just as good. The summary of this post is that if you run meetups I think it’s worth buying a roll of nametags and a couple markers and bringing them to the meetups.
You have now read the basic point of this post. If you want to read on, cool, lets talk about nametags for more words than are strictly necessary.
The easiest nametags to use are adhesive stickers with a blank front, which people can write their name on using a marker and then stick on the front of their shirt. Variations on this include a printed sheet with people’s names that can be put into a plastic sheath and hung around their neck on a lanyard, or a badge with their name embossed on it which they pin to their shirt. Nametags can also be created by combining an index card and a safety pin. If you’re at all unsure, I suggest you use the adhesive sticker version.
In all cases, nametags help remember names. Typical conversational norms might have an introduction where you say your name at the start, but then you don’t repeat your name throughout. Nametags help associate your name with your face as people can check the tag when they forget.
Nametags can include information other than just names. Pronouns are common in the social circles I frequent, as are online handles like your Discord nickname. In professional circles nametags often also mention what company someone is from. When I run meetups, sometimes I put “Organizer” under my name. I recall one person at a rationalist gathering wrote their name on their nametag and then, underneath, wrote “Ask me about insects.”
For meetups that are open to anyone who shows up, nametags are good for seeing who is a part of the group. If there is a big meetup in a park, someone standing nearby might be part of the meetup or might just be enjoying the day, but if they’re wearing a nametag they’re probably here for the meetup. They’re also great for introductions; I’ve overheard more than one conversation start with a variation on “that’s a cool name. Where’s it from?”
For meetups that are mostly the same people every time (the “regular crowd”) with occasional newcomers, nametags help the newcomers orient. It’s easy to say “Oh, ask Bella about that” without remembering that the newcomer doesn’t know Bella by sight. Nametags are useful for newcomers, and having them available and having everyone wear them is a good way to signal newcomers are welcome.
The lanyard version is often used by conventions and conferences. Often there will be a front desk or a check-in area where you’ll show up, state your name, and get handed your name badge. There are a couple of advantages to these. First, this method of checking people in makes it easier to compare the list of people who you thought were coming and the people who came. For a professional conference, which is picky about random people from off the street not wandering around, this is a nice perk. Second, you can print the sheet of paper differently for different people; for instance you can have attendees in blue and staff in green and then immediately tell staff from attendees. Third, because this is the format conventions and conferences often use doing these kinds of nametags can make your meetup feel like a more sophisticated enterprise. It’s one of those invisible status things people can care about a lot, and having a professional conference and offering adhesive sticker nametags is a bit like showing up in an old t-shirt.
If using an adhesive nametag, I suggest having people write their name first and then peel the nametag off the roll second. If you peel the nametag off first you’re faced with trying to write your name without letting it stick to anything or trying to write your name while it’s stuck to your chest. Speaking of which, use a thick marker and big letters.
The adhesive nametags I get come on a big roll. By writing “1” on the empty spot left when I take my own nametag at a meetup, and then writing “2” and so on in the empty spaces as more people take nametags, I know how many people were at my meetup. I got this idea from Mosaic House, an EA group house in Boston.
The adhesive nametags I get come in a repeating pattern of colours. (Red yellow blue green purple black and then back to red.) This means if I want to divide the crowd, I can do this by colour. (“Red, yellow and blue over here! Green purple and black over there!”) It’s not always even since people might have left, but it’s pretty quick to say.
Make sure the names are written in big, bold letters, so they can be read from normal talking distance. Give people a thick marker to write with if you have them write their own names.
Thank you for the addition! This is now added under Quick Tips. Anything else you’d suggest?