10 Tips to a First Encounter

Youth Specialties
September 7th, 2011

It doesn't matter if you are a youth pastor, small group leader, sunday school teacher, or you work in the snack bar, first encounters with students can be difficult.   Here are 10 tips to make it easier:

1.  Say hello!
Don’t be shy!  Take the initiative to introduce yourself.  Although their body language may be showing otherwise, students want a warm welcome!

2.  Understand the context
Let your surroundings and circumstances dictate how to begin the conversation.  For instance, if you’re meeting at a food place, talk about what’s good to eat, at a movie theater, what movie to see, etc.

3.  Pay attention
You’ll learn a lot about people from their body language and the words and phrases they use.  Listen and watch carefully.

4.  Pay attention, part 2
Your own body language will determine how willing and interested you are to actually have a conversation.  Be authentic.  Students know whether you are genuinely interested or not.

5.  Let’em shine!
Encourage students to talk about themselves by asking about their interests, tattoos, jewelry, bad breath, etc.

6.  Be careful
Trust takes time.  And while you want to get the person talking, be careful not to get too personal too fast.  Be patient.

7.  Be smart
If you ask a yes or no question, that’s the answer you’ll get.  Begin your questions with phrases such as, “What do you think about…” or “How do you feel about…”  These are called “open ended” questions.  Try them.  They work!

8.  Finish strong
Be wise in how you close your conversation.  If you promised anything (to pray, to get information, etc.) be sure to follow through and to have an e-mail address or phone number.  Students these days remember everything!

9.  Share the love!
If the person is new, take some time to introduce him to others.  Don’t keep him all to yourself.  Find someone his age and introduce him.

10.  Next step?
If the conversation reveals the individual has certain interests, make an effort to introduce him to the right people to talk more about those areas of interest.  This provides an instant connection for students.

Youth Specialties

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.