Events: How To Be A Normal Person
With the easing of Covid restrictions comes a welcome relief for the events industry as we are finally allowed to do what we do best after a long period of inactivity and we will soon be attending events and meeting new people face-to-face again.
But I’m terribly sorry; I think I may have actually forgotten how to “socialise” with other humans and what do you mean there’s no mute button?! Some research was in order and we’ve and put together a handy how-to guide from what we’ve learned as a sort of refresher course on how to be social again.
How hard can it be?
1. Have approachable body language
I’m already sweating at the thought of being aware of my body language at a party and I’m already shelling up, I’m actually typing this with folded arms, which is really hard to do! But being approachable isn’t some kind of precise power stance, it’s just not being unapproachable and we all know what that looks like; hiding in the corners, not sharing eye contact, and yep, folding your arms. Try your best to relax and smile when somebody makes eye contact. That’s all there is to it. Uh oh somebody is coming over! Panic stations!
2. Small Talk
Ok-ok try not to panic because now comes the easy part, small talk. Ok, maybe it’s not easy, maybe it’s enough to make you want to cancel attending an event in the first place. However, small talk is only bad if you get stuck there. Think of it as a conversational warm-up, a way to get the vocal cords waving to each other before you move the conversation on.
It doesn’t matter what you say on the surface, as what you’re communicating is you’re a normal human being that people can be comfortable around. The lower the intellectual bar the better as you’re relieving the pressure to be “smart” so people can relax and enjoy the conversation. But don’t languish in the conversational quicksand too long because soon you’ll be talking about your journey to the venue and that’s always a dead-end.
3. Interests and passions
Asking what people have been doing during lockdown may seem like a really boring segue question, but it’s a good way to move the conversation into ‘passions and interests’ and you’ll invariably find a subject the other person feels comfortable and knowledgeable about. Then you can sit back and let the other person do the talking… the perfect crime!
4. Ask follow up questions
This is an absolute game-changer and takes the pressure off of you to say interesting and witty things as you delve deeper into the interests and passions of the other person. Instead of trying to match their interests with your own, which can sometimes be read as competitive or worse, bragging, try learning a little bit more about theirs by asking them to expand on the things you find interesting. “You’ve been baking- nice! What have you been baking? How did you learn? What was your favourite bake? Did it fill the empty void inside?”
5. Share your own interests
Ok maybe not that last one, and remember you’re not a therapist so try to resist the urge to grill your new friend all night, and when you feel you can segue, share your own interests and passions. You will have just appreciated the benefits of being on the receiving end of this kind of thing and some studies have shown that talking about things you love and enjoy can boost your confidence and energy levels as dopamine and Phenylethylamine are released in the brain! What have you got to lose? Let people know you like dressing your dog up like a little chef if that’s your thing- they’ll love it if you do!
6. Try not to overthink
Talking of brains, try not to read negativity into ambiguous situations when they crop up. Remember everybody gets social anxiety and in all likelihood they too will be thinking about how they are presenting instead of how you are presenting, so embrace any mistakes you feel you might have made, maybe even acknowledge them with a little joke and then move the conversation on.
7. Move on
You don’t have to talk to anybody for longer than you want to, so if you feel the conversation getting stuck in the mud or taking a turn you’re not comfortable with you can make your excuses and move on. “I need to go to the bathroom/get a drink/just spotted somebody I should talk to/I just remembered my house is on fire.” 20 minutes is a good amount of time for a chat with a new person and chances are there will be a natural break around that mark so try not to make your judgement too early and see how things develop, you might actually meet somebody you like. When it’s time to move on, repeat the process until you make friends with everybody in the room and if you find that when you leave the room there is a round of applause and/or weeping then your work there is done!
There you have it, that’s not so bad is it? I for one feel much more confident re-entering society now and I’m looking forward to all the events that are coming our way as the unsung heroes of the events industry get back to business. We have bookings coming in thick and fast here at First Option so fingers crossed for a big summer for all of us!