Adapted from Ev Nau’s tips in “I Was A Barbershop Spy,” The Harmonizer, March- April 2004
1. Let your guests relax.
Give guests to your chapter meeting a chance to soak in the experience and feel welcome, without pressure to perform, audition, or join tonight.
2. Watch and listen.
Don’t overwhelm a guest: watch and listen to reactions as much as you explain and instruct. Involve guests immediately and completely throughout the evening.
3. Introduce yourself.
When a guest walks in, introduce yourself with a smile. Treat them as if you invited them into your home. Offer a bottle of water or light snack, if available. Point out where the restrooms are and give a quick overview of the rehearsal space.
4. Learn names.
Get their name, email address, and give them a name tag. Encourage everyone in your chapter to address them by name upon meeting.
5. Set expectations.
Explain what ensembles are available in the chapter; men’s women’s mixed, etc. Explain generally what to expect for the evening. “We’ll do some vocal warm-ups to get our brains and voices aligned, then move on to cleaning up a repertoire song.”
6. Offer participation options.
Offer options on how they can they can participate for the evening. “If you want to dive in and stand on the risers, the easiest time is during the initial warm-ups and some repertoire. Our contest number has a lot of choreography, so you may want to stand on the end of a row or watch that portion instead.” Encourage them to participate in vocal warm-ups even if they don’t expect to sing on the risers that night.
7. Provide sheet music.
Provide an up-to-date guest book of music, regardless of whether guests are following along from the chairs, or standing on the risers. Be careful not to pressure anyone who may not feel comfortable on the risers or wish to start singing just yet. They may just be there to listen, and that’s okay!
8. Introduce the director.
Encourage the director to have a personal conversation with each and every guest. Find out what the guest does for a living and/or their interests and hobbies. Introduce them to a few other members with the same occupation/interests.
9. Incorporate time for tags.
Towards the end of rehearsal, after the guest has had a chance to get a little more comfortable with your group, find out if they are interested in singing or learning a simple tag. Pair them with someone who has the same interests and voice part to help them learn the music.
10. Give your guests a reason to return.
Give the guest something to borrow until the next rehearsal (e.g., a binder of music, a CD, etc.). In other words, give the guest another reason to come back to the next rehearsal!
11. Follow up.
Contact the guest (via phone call, email, or text message) the following day and ask them something along the lines of, “What did you like best about last night?” Their answers will give you insight into what it will take to bring them back and it provides feedback for the chapter.
Additional Methods and Resources
- Include a group icebreaker game at some point during the night to help the guest get to know everyone in a fun, more relaxed way. Start with these suggestions, and tailor them to your group. (Please note that while these are geared toward the workplace, many can be adapted for your chapter or chorus).
- Invite the guest out to dinner or to an Afterglow.
- Utilize a Guest Survey to get an idea of what made your guest attend your event, and if they are interested in staying involved. Print out the survey and ask guests to fill it out before they leave, or send it out via email or text message the next day for feedback.
- Draw new people to your chapter by spreading the word in your local media. See a real-life example from the Holland Windmill Chorus here.