No other school event rivals the anticipation and excitement for both students and parents. The prom is the chance to dress our best, celebrate friendships and create memories that will define the high school experience. But be careful: Students caught up in the social frenzy of prom planning may not realize that the evening will test their “social IQ” on multiple levels: invitations, introductions, host and guest duties, conversations, attire and dining manners.
Those with limited experience attending formal occasions may discover that the prom will be the first time they find themselves thrust into unfamiliar situations. The prom provides a great opportunity for teens to learn proper etiquette and be able to practice these valuable social skills that will last a lifetime.
Here’s a crash course in basic social skills because the reality is “you don’t know what you don’t know.” Being prepared will help students to be confident and aware, so that ultimately everyone will enjoy this new experience.
Tips to empower your students:
- Inviting a date: Whether it’s a gentlemen or lady doing the asking – do it in person! Resist the urge to hide behind a text, e-mail or phone when you are ready to invite. Approach with a beaming smile, make great eye contact, and use a confident voice to extend an invitation.
- Meeting parents: Know how to introduce yourself: “Hello my name is John Smith, it’s a pleasure to meet you,” while maintaining good posture, great eye contact, hands out of pockets and shoulders back.
- What to wear: Your attire defines who you are to others – it’s that simple. Send the right message by selecting items that fit properly and comply with school dress guidelines to avoid awkward wardrobe malfunctions.
- Be a thoughtful host and guest: That means, be a great date! Every couple shares a responsibility to be socially prepared for the evening: greet people with a smile, be congenial and by all means, be ready to dance. A cell phone should not figure into any aspect of the evening. Keep it out of sight until there’s a restroom break. Stay engaged! Conversation topics could include: summer plans, favorite vacations/ books/ movies/cartoon characters, thoughts on college, or future plans.
- Gracious gestures: Gentlemen, make young ladies feel special by opening doors, pulling out chairs and standing when women enter or exit a table. Never slip out of a pre- or post-party without thanking the host.
Hilary Brennan has taught hundreds of individuals to be more confident and prepared in business and social situations. The founder of Socially Savvy, a New Jersey-based etiquette and social skills training company, she is dedicated to empowering individuals to develop their interpersonal skills, improve their personal brand and refine their professionalism.
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