The Amtgard Demo Handbook
by Baron Squire Rabbitt Wallcrusher & Marquis Squire Kayden Bonesteel MacGregor
Chapter 4: Running the Demo
Hopefully your location and your display will draw a crowd for you. However on the off chance that you are not on the beaten path and need to draw attention to your demo, here are a few tactics to use. Again these are just ideas for you to build upon, please use your creativity to enhance our list.
1) If allowed, post a schedule of events at a central location and/or next to your display. Make note of times of definite combat demos, artisan training (chain mail, bead work, etc.). This will allow passersby to schedule a time to come back to your booth while you are doing workshops they are interested in.
2) Fighting – If the location allows combat on the premises, have two of your volunteers fighting in the
background while another runs the table. The sights and sounds should draw passersby attention and intrigue
them enough to visit your display.
- If you have scheduled times for fighting, make sure that each demonstration shows different styles of combat. For example at noon you have Florentine vs. Sword and shield, at 2 o’clock have Pole arm vs. Sword and Madu, Etc… This will not only give the passersby a variety of fighting but it may draw them back at a later time to witness another style of combat.
- Only Amtgard volunteers scheduled to work the demo are allowed to engage in combat demonstrations. Due to insurance and safety regulations, most locations will not allow their patrons to engage in this type of physical activity. However, on rare occasions the site will allow their patrons to participate. For this to occur the normal Amtgard rules apply and a standard Amtgard waiver must be signed.
3) Artisan Workshops – In some cases you may want to have an artisan on site performing a task. Such as chain
mail, macramé belts, bead work, armor construction, etc… Having scheduled events will not only draw patrons
back, it also lends an air of credibility to the display and the dedication of our members. It will also
potentially draw the non-combatants to our club.
- If you have scheduled times for workshops/demonstrations of Arts and Sciences, make sure to only schedule one workshop/demo at a time. For example at 1 o’clock volunteer X will demonstrate how to create chain mail, then at 3 o’clock volunteer Y will demonstrate bead work, etc…
4) Be Polite – As people pass by make sure to say hello and make them feel welcome to visit your display. If you ignore the people that look in your direction, you may inadvertently lose a potential member. Make sure to make eye contact with as many passersby as possible.
5) If allowed, have your volunteers walk around the site in garb and armor. The bigger and meaner looking the armor the more attention they will get. This will entice people to make first contact and ask why they are here. Make sure your volunteers walk around with a look of confidence, as people in general take more notice of a person with this attribute rather than someone skulking around looking timid. Also have the volunteer walking around making announcements such as “come visit Amtgard, watch our live combat demonstrations located in XYZ”.
Talking to patrons is one of the most important skills to learn and use at a demo. As you are running the demo your love and dedication for the club is clear, but your enthusiasm may overpower a potential member. While talking to people do not inundate them with intricate details of the game. Give a high level perspective and basic combat rules. Good things to cover on initial conversation are:
1) Talk to their interests: for example, if you see someone fondling a piece of armor, do not speak to them about spell balls. Ask them if they are interested in wearing the armor or learning how to create a suit of their own. Once you determine their interests, you can continue the conversation in that direction.
2) High level of Amtgard: State that we are a live action role-playing group based in fantasy medieval times. More like a live version of Dungeons and Dragons. Advise the patron that various classes can be played both Magic and non-magic. However do not go into intricate detail on each class unless the potential member asks for more. Flooding a patron with too much info can have negative effects and drive a potential member away. A good way to give them the requested info and not overload them is to hand them a rule book to thumb through, and advise them they can download that book off of a website. (Perfect time to hand out flyer, card, or other printed media with website address.)
3) Be ready to hand out flyers, cards, or printed media to interested patrons. However do not force it into their hands, as this will potentially drive them away. A good idea is to have small stacks of your media placed amongst your display where they are easily accessible to the passerby and the other demo volunteers. That way if you are engaged in a conversation with one patron, another passerby can obtain information without interruption or another volunteer can easily distribute the media.
4) Time and location of weekly battle games – When a patron shows interest in coming out to Amtgard make sure they are aware of the times, locations, and how to get to a certain park. If you are doing a demo within your core group, and the potential member lives outside your Kingdom, direct them to www.Amtgard.com where they can locate the groups nearest to them. However if the potential member is located near one of your Kingdom’s core groups, be prepared to supply them with either contacts or information that will allow them to contact or attend that group.