Q. I was hoping you could help me with proper introductions in small groups. I started an online hiking group. I host hikes that anywhere from 5 to 25 people show up to. I fail miserably to get people to gel together at the beginning of each hike. Most of the time people will show up and trickle in 2-3 at a time and when they do, we shake hands and say hi and our names. Although people feel comfortable saying hi individually, I feel even if we first introduce ourselves to each other, we should have a group introduction.
Part of the reason I started the group was to overcome my PTSD, which kept me locked inside my house. I’ve come a long way from that point, but feel something is missing for the others that attend.
D. L., Atlanta, GA
A. First, let me commend you for getting out again and at the same time helping people participate in a healthy activity.
Given that you would like to have people introduce themselves to the group, the best way to make that happen easily is to set the expectation in your online offering. Have a small box detailing an agenda.
Group gathers at 9:00.
Review of planned hike.
Any other details you want to share.
Then, when people arrive at the meeting place, ask them to gather around you for a short get-together. Welcome them. Introduce yourself. And then ask each person to introduce him or herself. “Hi everybody. Thank you for coming out today. My name is Dave and I’m your hike coordinator. Before we start, I’d like to ask each person to introduce him or herself. We’ll go right around the circle starting here.” Then once each person has had a chance to say hello, go on with the agenda you posted on the website.
By setting the expectation on the website of how you organize your hikes, the participants will be aware that there will be a quick meeting which will include a round of introductions. Because you’ve set an expectation, acting on it reduces the awkwardness you or anyone of the group might feel than if you simply spring the introduction on them. These group introductions might be just the right icebreaker to get your hikers to start to converse with one another and start to build some camaraderie in the group.
In any business or personal setting, any time a group is getting together for the first time—for instance a meeting of two teams—introductions are a must. Besides individual introductions as people arrive, providing an opportunity at the start of the event for each person to introduce him or herself and to give a sentence or two of their background is a great way to start building rapport between the participants.
Since 2004, Peter Post has tackled readers’ questions in The Boston Sunday Globe’s weekly business etiquette advice column, Etiquette at Work. Post is the co-author of “The Etiquette Advantage in Business” and conducts business etiquette seminars across the country. In October 2003 his book “Essential Manners For Men” was released and quickly became a New York Times best seller. He is also the author of “Essential Manners for Couples,” “Playing Through–A Guide to the Unwritten Rules of Golf,” and co-author of “A Wedding Like No Other.” Post is Emily Post’s great-grandson. His media appearances include “CBS Sunday Morning,” CBS’s “The Early Show,” NBC’s “Today,” ABC’s “Good Morning America,” and “Fox News.” Follow Post: @PeterLPost.