A "Visibility Event" is an action intended to attract
attention and "get a message out"whether the message
is a fact about reproductive choice, a campus protest slogan, or
information about an upcoming Leadership Alliance activity. Although
relatively easy to organize, visibility events do require advanced
planning and considerable people power.
Burma Shave | Chalk
Talks & Campus Graffiti | Pickets &
Protests | Open Mikes & Speak Outs
| Essential Tips
Burma Shaves raise awareness about an issue or event by getting
passers-by to read one word of a short, powerful message at a time.
Each word in the message gets its own poster board, and the posters
are held far apart in succession in a high traffic area:
- Your message should be short and catchy. For example,
"Your Body, Your Choice" or "Stop Gender Apartheid
- Write out each word of your message on a separate piece
of large, bright poster board, and make sure the words are clearly
legible from a long distance away.
- Choose a high traffic road or bridge with roomy sidewalks,
or a major walkway.
- Consider writing words on both sides of the signs so
your message can be read in the proper order by cars travelling
in both directions, or do the Burma Shave on both sides of the
- Do a drive or walk-by test to make sure the message is
clear from both directions.
- Have enough people power to allow frequent switching off.
- Use thick cardboard or another light but sturdy material
for your signs, as wind will make your message hard to read.
- Reinforce your signs by laminating them so that they can be
- Brainstorm chants to use while holding the signs, and
always have petitions and literature.
Chalk Talks and Campus
Chalk Talks and Campus Graffiti entail chalking or painting
your message in highly visible spots on campus. Be sure
to check your campus rules regarding chalking before using
- Keep your message simple, and use a lot of colors,
pictures, and large letters.
- Plan in advance exactly what you want your chalking
- Check the forecast for rain before doing the work.
- Make sure chalking/ painting is allowed in your targeted
- Some campuses have bridges, walls, or rocks reserved for
painting by student groups.
Pickets and protests are most effective when the event is
thoroughly advertised in advance. Learning about publicity
techniques and working with media
will help make your event successful.
Open Mikes and
Organizing an Open Mike or Speak-out involves setting up
a podium and microphone in a highly visible or strategic location,
and encouraging people to speak on a particular issue.
Encourage students, professors, and visitors to "speak
out" extemporaneously in support of your message
or event, but also have prepared speeches, poems,
and facts ready to read in order to break the ice and
fill in long silences.
Portable microphones and speaker sets can be rented from
your college or university, or from a local rental store.
Building a crowd for this event is critical. More
on Publicity | More on Working
Be creative and have fun! Combine several of
our suggestions into one event or experiment with new
Always find out the rules governing the space
you intend to use before using it. This includes
learning about postering, chalking, painting, and bannering
Always obtain written permission before conducting
Alert campus security or local police
ahead of time if necessary.
Contact your Field Representatives before conducting
any visibility event, as we may be able to provide you
with posters, stickers, t-shirts, slogans, or information.
Have sign up sheets at absolutely every visibility
Display large FM posters and Leadership Alliance
posters at each event. Try to consistently use the
same colors and logos in conjunction with your Leadership
Alliance name, as you want people to immediately associate
your signs with your group.
Visibility events attract attentionthat is the
point. However, some of that attention may be negative.
Regardless of the behavior of opposition groups, always
adhere to FMF's code of non-violence and contact
the authorities if necessary.
Leaders' Institute Reading Room