How to discourage attendance

By guest blogger Eve

Ever seen an event description like this one?

Yellow River kayak trip, July 18

Time and location: TBA

Note: This route is dangerous and should not be attempted by people without experience in class 5 rapids. If I don’t know you personally, please provide your credentials when you RSVP. This is NOT a baby-sitting group. If you can’t handle it, don’t sign up. I am not a professional guide and am not responsible for anyone who gets hurt or left behind.

Kelly has a great post about giving your event an informative name. Unfortunately, I’ve seen actual events with less information in the entire posting than in his suggested titles. The description above not only tells me nothing about the event, it actually uses more words telling me why I shouldn’t come to it.

In this case, there are some obvious technical questions that need to be answered: How many miles will we cover? Will there be a shuttle? What class are the rapids? Those alone, however, aren’t enough.

Remember, many people who join Meetups do so because they are new to the area. “Yellow River” may signal something very specific and spectacular to long-time locals, but it means nothing to the rest of us. What is the closest town (so I can Google Map it)? Is this a mostly calm river with a few dangerous spots, or a nonstop thrill ride? Does it pass through beautiful old-growth forest? Was it listed in Kayaker’s Digest as a “Bucket List Trip”? In other words, why should I sign up for this event instead of the thousands of other things I could do?

Finally, once we add that information, there is still something off-putting about the language in this event. Many Meetup groups host events that require skill or experience, and it’s only prudent to warn your members of that. But if you aren’t willing to actually lead the event, why have you signed up to do just that? Why would I want to spend my afternoon with someone who won’t notice if I drown? This language doesn’t just frighten away nervous newbies. It also scares away skilled, experienced potential members who want to conduct their chosen hobby in an atmosphere of safety.

Put yourself in the shoes of the newbie. Welcome your potential participants with descriptive, informative, and friendly titles and text.

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Eve is an experienced trip leader with several meetups and is an Oregon/Tennessee transplant living and working in New York City.