They say that you only get one first impression, so make it count. The same can be said for when you welcome visitors into your office space, whether it be for a collaborative meeting with a business partner, an interview for a prospective hire, or a welcoming luncheon for the board of directors. There are certainly a few ways you can ensure that your first impression when bringing visitors into your office always hits the mark, and visitors feel welcomed, relaxed, and impressed by your office space.
Why welcoming visitors matters
We’ve talked a lot about what it takes to hold a successful meeting, and often what we’ve mentioned have to do with the preparation and execution of the meeting itself. But if you aren’t doing your best when welcoming visitors, and bringing them in to your space in an inviting way, it can set a negative tone for the meeting to follow. You definitely do not want to run your meeting off the rails before it even starts.
How you can begin to welcome visitors
Have someone physically present - In today’s offices, it’s not as common for there to be a receptionist or a full time front-desk personnel to welcome visitors. If your office does not employ such a person, ensure that you set a reminder for five to ten minutes before any meetings to make sure you yourself can be there to greet the guest. If it’s not possible for you to be waiting, ask someone else who can welcome the person in your place.
Make offerings and welcoming gestures - Offer to take the guests’ coat or umbrella if applicable. Offer them a glass of water or coffee or tea. Making offerings and these kinds of gestures can make visitors feel more relaxed, and can also make for a softer beginning to the meeting rather than just getting down to business.
Have a comfortable and inviting entrance - You of course by now know how important office layout can be to the overall feel and atmosphere of your office for your employees, but the same can be said for visitors. Plan your entrance area to include comfortable lounge furniture, rather than just a few stark chairs. If it’s on-brand, include warm and bright colors like yellow and orange, and place several plants around the area. All of these things can make people more comfortable going into your meeting.
Provide the visitor clear instructions on how to find your office - If it is difficult to find your entrance, or if there is a complicated sign-in needed, make sure your visitors know this ahead of time. Making a visitor feel stressed, or rushed, or panicked because they couldn’t find your office, is not setting your meeting up for success. Clearly describe these things via your correspondence ahead of time.
Ensure you have all the equipment you need - Nothing is worse than conducting a meeting and finding out in real-time that you don’t have the correct adapters for their computer and your projector, or other issues with compatibility. If they have a presentation, offer them to email it to you ahead of time in order to have a backup. Or bring a USB drive to the meeting in case files need to be quickly transferred between devices if you haven’t corresponded about their technical needs ahead of time.
Comfortable furniture, warm colors and plants creates an inviting and welcoming environment for your visitors.
When you not only plan your meetings thoroughly ahead of time, but also take care when welcoming your visitors, you can ensure that your meetings are more successful, fulfilling, and that your guests feel welcomed. Starting off on the right foot by providing the best experience for your guests can set the tone for the meeting to follow and future cooperations.
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