Events – making the most of them

I hosted one of our events near Stratford upon Avon and took the opportunity to observe how different attendees ‘behaved’ during the event and thought that sharing a bit of what I noticed might be useful to everyone – whether you take it on board for friends1st events or other events you turn up.

I’m pleased to say everyone dressed well. That’s not always the case in my experience but it was at this event. It’s obvious that everyone looks at others and only has their looks to go on in the first instance, so dressing well, being well groomed and looking your best is important.

Now obviously most people are nervous when they turn up to an event.  It’s good to remind yourself that everyone else will probably be nervous too.  At this event, we have more men there than women (unusually but not uniquely) so I was very surprised to look around at the initial drinks stage to find small groups of women talking to each other. Fair enough if you’ve booked to come to the event to meet other women – but since I doubt that’s the case in most instances – then it is a bit mad. These events are quite short – and you need to use every opportunity you can to meet people of the opposite sex there. Don’t waste your precious time talking to someone of the same sex as yourself if you’ve come to meet people of the opposite sex.

I wonder if that sometimes happens because people come to an event, take a quick look around and think to themselves “Well there’s no-one here for me”. I bet it happens – you’ve probably thought it yourself. I know I have. But the reality is that although you might write off the event (and people there) in the first few minutes, you’d be wrong to do so for a number of reasons. Firstly first impressions aren’t always accurate.  Give others half a chance and you’ll be amazed at what you find out about them and how it might affect your opinion of them. For example at this event there was a man I sat next to at the beginning who had the most amazing ability to tell lots of jokes (and another man who could reply to each and every joke told with another clever witticism of his own). You’d have never have thought these two men had the sense of humours that they did by looking at them. And after half an hour of laughter my opinion of them was certainly different to what my first impressions had been. Talking to them further revealed further things about them – like their kind hearts for example – that again changed how I perceived them.  It’s not all about looks then and it does take time to get to know someone!

Another thing I noticed was how at the beginning of the event at the drinks stage one man completely dominated the conversation by talking all about himself. The woman he was talking to was politely nodding and looking very interested but if she was thinking what I was, it was probably along the lines of “I wonder if he’s ever going to show any interest in me”! Even when I tried to move the conversation to her, he quickly switched it back to him!  Now giving this man the benefit of the doubt I guess he was pretty nervous at this stage. And if you’re nervous it’s easy to talk about yourself as a safe option! But let me tell you straight – it can be quite a turn off – if you go on for too long. So what can you do to get over your nerves and ensure you don’t make this mistake? Quite simply you have to prepare to go to these events. And that means more than just the way you look.

Think about some interesting topics of conversation you could start. How about “Have you read any interesting books recently?” or “What the most interesting sermon you’ve heard recently?” These are good conversation starters and will engage the other person without being too personal. You should have 5 or 6 of these up your sleeve ready to use when you meet others for the first time to use in your chat as the conversation gets going.

Some people at the event were really smiley and appeared very happy from beginning to end. I suspect that’s their personality coming through. One person wasn’t – and I suspect that’s their personality too. It certainly didn’t draw me in to want to engage with them! You see this does make a difference to how others perceive you and interact with you. So make an effort to smile, be friendly, be outgoing and engaging. Yes be yourself but do so as positively as you can.

It was a real pleasure to meet all the members at this event – and seeing how the time raced by, and by the level of chattering that was going on, I’d judged the group to have by and large had a nice time with new friendships being made and some new contacts shared.

It’s really hard to assess your own behaviour at an event – especially if you attend with high expectations and turn up nervous. But reread this article and see if you can make the next event you attend even better than your last one. Get to meet more people, make a better first impression, have better conversations and generally get more out of them. You’ve only got one life – don’t waste it.

Blessings to you