018 : Sloppy welcomes are the rule, unfortunately not the exception

I've just dropped my daughter off at one of the many summer activity days

she’s attending now we’re in the holiday season. Parents reading this will know of them very well. It’s important (I feel) to break up the long holiday with ‘things to do’ and look forward to. Try lots of activities out over time and find the ones you really like; all that good stuff…

The water-sports welcome was sloppy and went like this:

Hello children….(mumble something about height and age. I couldn’t quite hear as he WASN’T LOUD OR CLEAR ENOUGH).

He (I’ve forgotten his name) then sped through the names of the other instructors without them having time to raise a hand, smile or say hello.

We then heard a long list of things you can’t do – no eating in the changing rooms, no going through the green doors, no standing on the pontoons, no using mobile phone, no running, no being barefoot as there’s lots of sharp equipment lying around, no shouting or yelling or bullying, no swapping groups.

No mention of how to enjoy yourself either.

Here’s a wetsuit (holds one up on a coat hanger).

Here’s a buoyancy aid that looks like it’s been lifted out the bottom of a quarry. doesn’t put it on. Pulls a few straps – that’s clear then.

Now the hand over to a.n. other instructor who read out names of his group as if he were checking the morning rota at a young offenders institution.

It was sloppy, dull and negative… and unfortunately, the norm across so many organised activities.

The welcome to any project or training is the most important part of the process. That first impression needs to surprise and delight your participants, but more importantly make them feel loved, valued and wanted.

This remains the same whether you’re briefing in a benefits analysis programme or a team of nervous 10 year olds at the side of a drizzly lake – more so in fact as you could drown if you don’t pay attention.

Get your welcome right.

Think hard on what’s said, when and how and choose the right person for the job.

I was told it takes 10 seconds for people once you’ve started your introduction to make up their mind how much they trust and respect you. After that, everything you do just re-enforces that first impression.

“Go on then smarty pants, see if you can do any better” – I hear you ask.

#blows whistle – yes, a whistle, it cuts through all the chatter and isn’t shouting which is a behaviour I don’t want. (NICE AND CLEARLY standing on a stool) Welcome everyone! Welcome everyone to the Lake. Some say it’s got a monster and has been sighted as early as last full moon… My name is Andy. What is it? (await response). Yes, so any question, ask Andy – my name is on my badge here (points at badge).. if you look around other people have badges too, they are Scott, Gemma, Jess, Simon (etc. await from waving and hello from my fellow team mates – gives message we are all as one AND gets people look at badges and signposts.).

We’ll be hear for 5 minutes whilst I tell everyone some of the important information about the week ahead so we all know how to enjoy ourselves, be safe and learn.

Okay, the first thing is wetsuits. Gemma is wearing one and as you notice… (explain important bits) … thanks Gemma, (clapping).

Next is your buoyancy aid, let’s bring someone out from the group as a volunteer (bring child out, fit buoyancy aid – shows how easy it is to put on).

You get the idea.

All the time, Animation. Names. Changing voice tempo and volume. Differing between do’s and don’ts with humour and pauses.

No one is going to die on a business project and unlikely they need to wear a wet suit to last the week, BUT at some point, in the creative journey they’ll need a welcome to a fresh part of the process. If you’re facilitating that process, it’s on you to make them feel safe and welcome and that you can be trusted and respected. Raise the game. Get Premium.

Don’t leave it to chance.