Better Public Engagement: Build trust with a WELCOME strategy.

Welcome_MatHosting a public or stakeholder engagement session? Ensure that your team makes a great first impression (and fosters credibility and trust) by being ready well before the earliest of early birds shows up for the meeting.

Here’s how:

1) Be ready for arrivals at least 30 minutes before the meeting starts. This means having the room and A/V set and ready to go. It undermines your credibility when the audience is watching you run around trying to get things set up.

2) Have staff participate in check-in and “meet and greet” with early arrivals. Remind people to sign-in, give them a brief overview of the meeting and thank them for giving you their time.

3) Have staff engage attendees in friendly small talk until the meeting commences. This allows you to demonstrate that you’re caring members of the community — just like them.

4) Have refreshments available if the budget allows. A little coffee and cookies go a long way to making people feeling welcomed.

These four simple steps can have a dramatically positive impact on the tone of the meeting. While challenging discussions may still take place, you’ll have the benefit of starting out with an audience that is far less hostile than one that feels unwelcome or believes that the presenters are unprepared. As Ralph Marston said, “Being positive in a negative situation isn’t naive. It’s leadership.”

Public, workplace and leadership engagement professional, Maureen “Mo” Douglas is a radically positive agent for change. Click here for Mo’s FREE e-Guide to Better Public Engagement. Follow her on Twitter.