If the purpose of the activities fair is to gather as many emails as possible, the purpose of the information sessions is not only to provide additional information to interested students, but also to begin the process of weeding out students who only have a passing interest. Most information sessions are split into two parts: providing information and networking with current team members. Your sessions should be geared to maximize the amount of time students get to meet with your current members.
The primary strategy I want to introduce in this section is hoop theory. Namely, you want to design specific hoops that you want prospective members to jump through so that you can identify and select quality members. A hoop is defined as any action you require prospective members to take in order to join your organization. Attending an information session would be a simple hoop. Preparing for a tryout is a more difficult hoop. You must learn to balance both the number of hoops and the difficultly of your hoops. Additionally, your hoops should be specific and should select for qualities that would be beneficial for your organization.
The goal of your information sessions should be to provide more context for what your organization does and to explain the process for interviews or tryouts. To that end, you’ll want to think about how best to structure the information and how you’ll want to convey the information in a manner that’s efficient and engaging.
When planning your information session, consider both timing and logistics. Information sessions should not be shorter than 30 minutes but should not be longer than an hour. Your information session should take place around dinner time, and you should provide food. At this time, most people will be out of class, and it won’t be too late in the evening.
Once you’ve planned the time for your information session, you need to ensure that you have the appropriate space to hold your session. Consider if you need any technology or if you require space for presenters. Think about how many people have historically shown up for your session and select a room that’s slightly smaller than your expected audience. This will promote the idea that your organization is a popular one that many people want to get into. Once you’ve secured and reserved your space, all of this logistical information should be provided on your website and on any flyers that you distribute during the activities fair.
You should hold 1-2 information sessions. This will provide a good balance between being flexible with schedules and not spreading your prospective applicants too thinly. If people are actually interested in showing up to your sessions, they will prioritize them. There’s no need to expend the energy to hold more than 2 sessions. You may also want to think about holding two different type of events. For example, one information session could be a formal sit down and listen affair while the second session might be an outing at a bowling alley to allow students to mingle more casually with your members.
Finally, it’s time to think about the content to be presented at your information session. The best information sessions provide a brief overview of the group’s history, purpose, and benefits then transitions into an expose about what the group does. For a performance organization, you should either hold a small performance or show a video of a performance. For a professional organization, you should present a small case study. For recreational organizations, you should provide some example of your activities. Be creative but descriptive. Give your potential members a sense of what they’re about to involve themselves with. The better sense your prospective members have of what your organization does, the more likely you’ll get members who are actually interested in your mission statement.
The execution of your information session should follow a step-wise process:
Set people at strategic locations (e.g. escalators or hallways) to direct interested members.
Have a sign on your door labeling your session.
Populate your room with at least 6-7 members that can answer questions about your organization.
Start your meeting no later than 15 minutes after it’s slated to begin. During this time, people should settle down and eat.
Any logistical information about interviews and tryouts should be left until the end. This will ensure that as few people leave early as possible.
End on time, but expect to stay at least 30 minutes after the session is over to talk with interested students and answer questions.