By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
Last month I wrote an article about the importance of authenticity in your recruiting conversations. It was the one where I referenced the Shawn Mendes concert that my wife and I took our daughter to. If you missed that one, here it is.
Authenticity came up again in multiple conversations at NACAC last week. Admissions professionals from all levels asked me for advice and tips on sounding less robotic and scripted during things like college fairs, high school visits, campus tours, and phone calls.
I want to make sure you and your colleagues don’t sound like those airplane messages that get played when you push back from the gate and taxi out. In most cases they’re completely scripted, repetitive, and dry, which is why very few people pay attention.
Having an outline or a template for any presentation or phone call is important, but if you’re going to differentiate your school and get engagement from this generation of students, it better not sound like you’ve just memorized the information. Same thing goes for student callers if your school uses them. Just because it’s a peer doesn’t change anything.
Here are six things that will help make your presentations and phone calls sound less scripted:
- Always make sure it’s a two-way conversation. This is the number one piece of advice I can give you. As you’re sharing things about your school, consistently engage the student and/or parents through eye contact (if in person) and effective questioning. For example, ask them their opinion about what you just shared. Is it important to them as they’re looking at different schools? You should always be speaking with the other person, not at them.
- Your pace matters. Slow down, pronounce things clearly, and take pauses between thoughts or before you answer a question. It doesn’t have to sound perfect. It just needs to be authentic and helpful.
- Use the student’s first name. Even if you’re speaking to a group, try and use as many first names as possible when answering questions or engaging others. When you do it shows that you identify them as a person and not just an inquiry, prospect, or admitted student.
- Incorporate stories to prove your points. As I’ve explained in previous articles, storytelling is powerful because it gets people to visualize, and it helps to connect the dots and achieve emotional engagement, which is a critical component in any decision-making process.
- Demonstrate passion and excitement. Passion is an effective tool because it isn’t artificial. People can tell when you truly enjoy what you do and genuinely believe what you’re sharing. A passionate person cares about, and takes the time to understand, the wants and needs of the person they’re talking to. When you do this it creates a more enjoyable experience and generates excitement and other emotions.
- Have confidence. When you speak confidently, it completely changes your tone of voice. A confident person is almost always seen as well organized. Conversely, a lack of confidence in your voice can imply a lack of confidence in your school. Perception matters!
If you’ve got a specific question about college fairs, high school visits, or student callers, feel free to email it to me and I’ll send you some quick feedback.
Have a great week!