HOW TO FREEIC
Looking to join the movement? The following video explains what to expect, what to do, and how we start conversations when heading out. You can find more details on the content of this video below.
Meet your team
If you are FreeIC-ing with a group and there are people you don't know, we first recommend taking the time to meet everyone. Chances are you're going to be talking to each throughout the day, and it makes for better interactions if everyone knows each other.
We also recommend taking a team photo with everyone holding the sign up.
Some prefer to FreeIC alone, others prefer to buddy-up with someone else, both are fine! Do whatever's most comfortable for you. If you're with a group we recommend FreeIC-ing in relatively close proximity to one another, about one sidewalk length away. A person may reluctantly walk past one sign, but are more likely to stop after they've seen a second or a third.
Picking Location and Setting up
We prefer to setting-up in high traffic areas; selecting places where it's easy to be approached to talk. We don't want anyone feeling uncomfortable, or that they're jeopardizing their safety to come talk to us.
In an attempt to not be obnoxious and/or in the way of oncoming pedestrians, we position ourselves at the edge of the sidewalks to stay out of the way. Also, this way when someone approaches you to talk you can be sure that they want to talk to you, because they had to come out of their way to do so.
After we've picked our location, we try our best to look friendly and approachable, smiling and acknowledging people as they walk by. (No staring! That's creeeepy!)
You might be standing in place for a couple minutes before someone stops and talks to you—don't sweat it, it's normal. If you're a place for longer than 5 minutes and nobody stops to talk, we recommend changing locations.
Lastly, sometimes you're going to see people who are on the fence and can't decide if they're going to talk to you or not. We normally just greet and encourage them to come talk. Sometimes a little push is what they need!
How to start a conversation
This is all personal preference: some like to lead with a question, some like to just let the person talk, some ask the person: "What do you want to talk about" or "What kind of things are you interested in?" Do whatever's most comfortable for you.
We have FreeIC Question Cards that we hand out for people to use to start conversations. These cards have thought-provoking questions that we've found to be great for getting conversations rolling. When someone apporaches and ask: "What's this about?" We have them pick a card, and use the question on the card as an ice-breaker. You can check out some of these questions on our Conversation Starter page.
There may be times where you will have to encourage and remind the person you're talking to that they have plenty of interesting things to discuss. They may say: " I don't really do anything" or "The things i'm interested in you'll think are lame and boring." Just encourage these people to talk to you about their lives; about the things they've learned this week, the things they've been struggling with, etc.
There is absolutely NO topic that's off limits. There is also no time cap on conversations. In a 2 hour outing you may speak to twenty people, or you might only speak to one—that's up to you!
There may be times where you will see people lining up, or standing to the side waiting to talk to you. If the current conversation we're in isn't too personal, we like to invite whoever may be waiting to join the conversation. We have everyone introduce themselves, let new participant(s) know what's being talked about, ask them for their insight/thoughts, and continue the conversation.
When a conversation starts to die-off, we transition out of the conversation by telling the person:
"Alright, I'm going to let you get back to what you're doing"
"It was nice talking to you, I'm going to continue FreeIC-ing elsewhere."
While FreeIC-ing, some of us have made business partners, some of us have gotten dates, some of us have made life long friends. Feel free to exchange contact information with the people your interested in keeping in contact with. The people you talk to are your connections and become part of your network.
Reminder: Always encourage people to join the movement. Let them know that they can join upcoming outings, get their own sign, learn more at www.FreeIC.org!
After every conversation, we ask the participants if they wouldn't mind us taking a picture of them holding a FreeIC sign. We gather all the photos captured that day and post them to our website and Facebook page, for people to later reference.
Be intentional about taking good pictures.
We also take pictures to show others the diversity of people stopping to talk. Hoping that no one can say: "Ohh, this isn't my kind of thing." Our pictures show the variety of people who are stoping to talk, and that FreeIC is not specific to any group of people—our pictures are visual proof of that!
There will also be people who don't even want to have a conversation, they just want to take a picture. Our usual response is: "Sure, can we take a picture of you holding the sign?" (This is also a great gateway to start a conversation.) If they decline, we let them take their picture anyway.
ALWAYS ask them to hashtag #FreeIC if they're going to put the photo on social media, as it helps us spread the movement and build traction! (It's also kind of cool to later find pictures of yourself on the social media accounts of strangers)
There will also be times where you will see people trying to be sneaky and take a picture of you, hoping you don't notice them—call them out! Let them know if they want to take a picture, you'll pose for one. It's better for both them and us to take a good pictures. Don't forget to ask them to hashtag #FreeIC!
Here's a generic sample of a conversation:
Stranger: Hey, what exactly are you doing here? Who do you work for?
You: I don't work for anybody, I'm out here because I want to be. Me and a group of friends decided that our options this afternoon were: Go on Facebook, or come outside and have real conversations with real people.
Stranger: Oh really, I don't have anything really intelligent to say. What do you want to talk about?
You: Free Intelligent Conversation is built on the idea that everyone has a unique perspective, and it's when these perspectives are shared that intelligent conversations happen.
Do you mind if I ask you a question?
Stranger: Go ahead.
You: If you had everyone in the world's undivided attention for 20 minutes, what would you tell everyone and why do you think that's so important?
Stranger: Shares what they'd say, and why they'd say it
Conversation comes to a close. Ask the person if they would take a picture of them holding the Free Intelligent Conversation sign. Encourage them to join the movement and to get a sign an FreeIC.org. Exchange contact info if you want!
DRESS LIKE IT'S YOUR FIRST DAY IN COLLEGE.
Your choice of attire nonverbally communicates things about you. We like to try our best to look approachable and presentable!
While our agenda is to connect with people and build community, we are aware that may not be the case for others. Sometimes it's someone trying to flirt with you, other times it's someone trying to sell you something.
We recommend politely bringing those conversations to a close, and to continue FreeIC-ing.
After talking to a couple people it's easy to get antsy and hasty. We encourage you to be mindful, and genuine in every conversation—they're more enjoyable that way.