When prospective moms and dads leave a preview event or an Open House, there are things they rarely remember:
- “Honey, wasn’t that an amazing Powerpoint that the Head of School gave!” Nope, no one says that.
- “Wow, this tri-fold brochure really does capture what is great about this school.” Doubtful.
- “I felt so inspired by walking from booth to booth learning about the tuition schedule and curriculum.” Rare.
So what makes an Open House memorable?
Yes, you should showcase successes of your athletic programs. Sure, make sure parents have a clear indication of all of your extracurricular activities and offerings. But the real winner for inspiring potential parents is to see, talk with, and hear about your student success stories.
Here are 5 easy ways to showcase your amazing students at your next Open House:
- FIRST-RESPONDERS: weather-permitting, have students in the parking lot to direct cars, hold the car door open for your guests and to direct newcomers to the right door to enter your building. Most parents have a little nervousness at an admission event, so a friendly student voice or action can be a pleasant surprise right from the beginning!
- TOUR GUIDES: if at all possible, have student leaders act as the primary tour guide for families. Not as a tag-along but the leader of the prospective parent’s experience. Have a staff person accompany to answer certain questions but more importantly to listen to the frequently asked questions and for any unique way to follow up later. As a staff person giving the tour, if you are so busy talking, you likely cannot listen well. But if your students are leading the way, you can focus on hearing the questions and concerns of prospective parents. Not only can you use this information in a personalized follow-up, you can also discover great material for your next blog post or FAQ page on your website.
- REALITY STARS: while a staff person can often be perceived as putting on a great presentation, parents may also trust a student’s testimonial much more because they “tell it like it really is.” Give plenty of opportunities on stage, in videos or in a written story where you let the real stars of your school shine.
- VIDEO PRODUCERS: just like #3, empowering students to produce creative presentations and videos about their positive school experience is much preferred to “slick” or “polished” professional videos. Not that the latter videos are useless, but often the student-generated video work is what is shared the most on social media because it tells about your school from the inside out. Run a contest and invite students to produce their best!
- PEN PALS: while some students today would prefer to text or tweet, part of your extensive follow-up work with prospective families is to communicate via pen and paper. While an email may go out from the Admissions office and a typed letter may be mailed from the Head of School, the handwritten thank you notes are what get the most attention. In our digital world, people who take the time to handwrite a note stick out. But you should not only do one, but put together a string of consistent notes from board members, current moms and dads, and yes, even students.
Click the image below more ideas on how to make your Open House more effective!