I speak to a lot of Rotary clubs. One of my top pet peeves is when guests' and visitors' names are mispronounced.
We can talk all day about our values, about the good we are doing halfway around the world, and we can use our Happy Dollars to share minute details about our weekends. But if you do not take the effort and attention to say your guests' name correctly, you are sending the message that they don't matter, that they are not welcome and that they are not worth your time.
What would it take to pronounce everyone's name correctly? I have seen a few clubs do it well all the time. Here some approaches that work.
- Take the job of greeter seriously. This job is one of the most important jobs in creating a great guest experience. Own it!
- Make sure your greeter watches each guest sign in. If the greeter cannot read or pronounce the name correctly, ask the guest to clarify immediately.
- If your greeter does not log in your guests, ask your registrar to ask your guest or visitor to write their name big and clear so that they can be introduced properly. Ask them to say their name and then repeat it until the guest tells you that they have it right. Then, make phonetic notes so you remember how to say it.
- Ask the member who brought the guest to introduce their own guest. "Jim has a guest. Jim, would you please introduce your guest to the club?"
- Always introduce Youth Exchange and other young guests by their full names, just as you would your District Governor, or any other adult. If they feel that being introduced by both first and last name is too formal, let THEM tell you to use their first name only.
- Ask your members to introduce guests to the greeter for the day. Sometimes guests start a conversation with a member as they are walking in and skip that step. Make sure guests feel welcome.
There are also some death moves.
- Never apologize for mispronouncing their name in advance. If you can give a heartfelt apology, you can learn a name.
- Never blame the guest for not writing clearly. The job to be done is to welcome guests properly, not to read what you are given.
- Never ask whether you missed anyone. If you have a large group, you might ask, "Is there a member who would like to introduce another guest today?"
If you had 5 non-negotiable rules for introducing guests and visitors, what would they be? Here is the first one: pronounce all guests' and visitors' names correctly.
Branding is hollow unless behavior matches the brand promise. If fellowship is an important part of the Rotary brand, let's get start by getting the names right, shall we?