8 Ways to Make a Great First Impression at Your Open House
1. Smile. A smile fills you with warmth and confidence. People like to be around other people who are happy and enthusiastic. People like to look at your eyes to get a sense of who you are. Body language studies show that if you raise your eyebrows in conversation you convey that you are positive and authentic. Look people in the eyes, but do not glare or stare.
2 2. Greet people at the door when they enter your room. Remain standing throughout your presentation. Do not sit down to talk to a group of parents or visitors to your room or office. Standing shows energy and with-it-ness.
3. Shake hands and greet people with a firm handshake, but not one to squish their fingers.
4. Treat everyone like they have the power to change your destiny. Everyone should be treated with respect and importance when they meet with you.
5. The little details matter. Wear professional dress and suit it up. Stand up straight with your shoulders back. Have a fresh cut or style to your hair. Have a breath mint or spray on hand. Sometimes when you get nervous your mouth gets dry and this could make you feel like your tongue is sticking to your teeth. Do not use a piece of gum. No one wants to see you chew away while you are talking or worse yet, see the piece of gum in your mouth!
6. Prepare your two minute elevator speech. This is what you want to say about your classroom or practice or what you do. Include the main details. At the end include something personal about yourself, for example you might want to end with something like, “On a personal note, I have two children and a wonderful husband of eight years.” Or “I love to travel and I will be helping to chaperone the school trip to Spain this summer.” People like to know people and what they do. They are naturally curious. Be willing to share one item of personal interest like a hobby, pet, or something interesting about your family. Teachers and counselors are in positions of authority and parents like knowing you are human. Some of them may even be intimidated by you. Do not be too personal. One item is enough.
7. Have some material for everyone to take with them when they leave. Everyone should walk away with something in their hand. This could be as simple as a business card with your email and/or website. You might have a flyer with school information and special hours when you can be contacted easily.
8. Open house and Parent Informational Nights are not the time for personal consultations or counseling sessions. They will have questions and concerns. Let them know gently, but firmly, you will be happy to talk with them later, but not at this event. The contact information is on the card or in the flyer. “I will look forward to your call.”
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Grace Wilhelm is a National Board Certified Counselor with over sixteen years experience. She enthusiastically presents to counselors, teachers, youth workers, and parents on anger, stress, crises intervention, communication, data, counseling programs, play sessions, and more.
Mrs. Wilhelm has been awarded ASCA National School Counselor of the Year Semifinalist, RAMP, and FLDOE Parent Involvement Award. She has written student workbooks on anger control and stress management. She has completed two DVDs on Games and Play to Enhance Counseling and Teaching Strategies: Creative Ways to Engage Students in Small Groups, Classrooms or Individual Counseling Sessions.
Speaking engagements have taken Grace as far away as Papua New Guinea. She currently resides in Jacksonville, Florida with her husband Mark and three children. She enjoys traveling, genealogy and playing the violin.