It was a simple act. One of profound importance.
“Welcome and thanks for being here. I appreciate your time.”
Many smiled and shook my hand. Some were shocked. Some exclaimed I was the only presenter that had done that.
Setting The Space With Welcoming
I believe that welcoming people into a conference space is one of the most important things I can do. I also lead and guide as a speaker.
I believe that welcoming people into any space, any family, any organization, any meeting, any event is critical. Too frequently we forget to welcome people. We come across as if they are unwanted, unsolicited, uninvited.
Welcoming all is important.
Welcoming addresses fundamental questions: Do I belong here? Am I accepted or rejected? Am I welcomed but expected to change? Is it safe here? Will I be humiliated or appreciated?
Until those questions are answered, my presentation cannot be effective. Until others feel safe and accepted, they cannot learn or relate during the conference.
Welcoming As Part Of Radical Hospitality
You can’t script radical hospitality. It’s not something that you can fake or spin.
People who demonstrate radical hospitality don’t look down on others. They don’t judge them. They look past invisible differences (attitudes, beliefs, lifestyles, values) and visible differences (age, dress, economic status, race, religion).
Conference radical hospitality really does welcome people just as they are.
We all need radical hospitality. There is a razor-thin edge between what makes each of us the least, lonely, foreigner, outcast, unknown in a conference setting, to paraphrase Barbara Huisman.
Attributes Of Conference Welcoming Radical Hospitality
Conference radical hospitality accepts everyone that walks through the door. It practices acceptance. We accept the differences as they are.
Conference radical hospitality is:
1. Authentically welcoming others.
The greeter at the door is actually glad to be with the person entering the room. It’s an opportunity to expand the conversation and include diverse views. True radical and welcoming hospitality relishes the time with a variety of opinions without judgment.
2. Embracing a caring curiosity.
Your conference team keeps the conversation around the other person, rather than their selves. It’s not an awkward, fake discussion. The welcoming person is truly interested in the other.
3. Adopting a profoundly relational mindset.
It’s truly taking the time to understand what makes another tick. To getting to know them, their challenges, their successes and their needs.
4. Time consuming.
Practicing a welcoming radical hospitality in your conference is not just about making a great first impression. It’s more than remembering someone’s name. It is a gift that you can give to your conference attendees.
5. Not just greeters at the door.
Too often, conference greeters and living directional are just completing a task they’ve been assigned. They know they are to smile, nod and shake hands. There is nothing sincere, relational or welcoming about a checklist duty. It’s much, much more than that. It’s a conference culture that you cultivate with all your leaders.
Hat tips to authors and researchers Thom & Joani Schultz for their insights about people’s expectations for experiences today.
What are some additional attributes of a welcoming radical hospitality for conferences? What tips do you have for creating a welcoming conference culture that is contagious?