How to make a good first impression as an esports coachJun 07, 2022
Imagine that you're going to meet a newly formed team for the first time in two hours. You'll be their coach for the upcoming season. You know that first impressions are important because you know that the players are thinking thoughts like "I wonder how good this coach is", "is he friendly? Over-controlling? Arrogant?" and "does he have the stuff to help us succeed?".
Fast forward two hours. You've just joined the group call. All players are present, including two members of staff. From the moment you join the call, you notice everyone looking at each other, listening, trying to figure out who their new team-mates are. Within moments, everyone makes something incredibly important, their first impression!
First impressions are essential, especially as a coach. The impact you make in those first few minutes is critical for earning the trust, respect, and credibility in the eyes of your players. And, at the same time, for the players to earn it from you.
It is hard to change the first impression
First impressions can take months to change in the eyes of others. Therefore, making an average or poor first impression will cost you and your team. Instead, you want to be that 'stand-out' coach, the one that leaves impactful first impressions leading to more business and better opportunities.
So, what do people look for in a first impression?
- Likability - being pleasant and easy to get along with
- Competency - your ability to do something successfully
- Trustworthy - someone that's honest and they can rely on
- Smart - clever, well educated (and well dressed!)
You can think of these four criteria as a sort of 'checklist' that we internally refer to consciously and subconsciously when we meet, see, and hear about other people. You can already use this checklist to reflect on your actions and ideas on how to make a great first impression. From there, you can implement new ways of approaching those contexts.
Great! How can I do that? Here are some actions that we recommend you avoid and actions that we recommend that you can take to help you make the best first impression that you can:
What to avoid:
- Talking about yourself too much – this can come across as being self-centered. Instead, you can wait till someone asks questions about you to talk about yourself.
- Talking about controversial or "intense" topics such as politics, health, and your problems – this can be pretty off-putting when meeting people for the first time as these types of conversations typically evoke strong emotional responses. Best to avoid them in the beginning.
- Not saying much and not asking follow-up questions – responding to "how are you" with only a "good" is a great way to kill the flow of conversation and give the impression that you're not interested in the other person. Instead, respond with something like "good, and how about you?"
- Taking over or overwhelming the room – dominating the room with your voice or actions makes it harder for others to speak and share their opinions. You want to leave space for everyone to speak and be seen.
- Being apologetic, saying sorry all the time or downplaying – If you find yourself doing this, simply practice removing one “sorry” or downplay each time you speak.
- Using 'boring' or 'standard' replies to questions - Instead of responding with "yeah, I'm doing fine", reply with "I'm happy to be here" or "I'm super excited to be here!" – show your enthusiasm through your words and body language. People will feel it!
- Not responding when players try to make a connection with you – these moments are vital to solidifying your newly-made relationship. Key your eyes and ears open for them to quickly increase your bond with players
What you can do to help you set a great first impression:
- Introduce yourself and follow up with a question – this keeps the conversation flowing and shows that you're interested in them while showing that you're invested in them.
- Do your research about the team and player(s) – this is key to bettering your understanding of them. You can even pleasantly surprise them with facts about themselves that they didn't expect you to know, which builds rapport.
- Show interest by asking questions – a no-brainer. Questions take the focus off you and put it squarely on the player. You're limiting your ability to coach without asking questions because you don't know their pain points and needs.
- Be yourself – being yourself means being authentic, transparent, and honest, which makes it MUCH easier for you to connect with others and vice-versa. Don't act like someone you're not because soon enough, people will find out, which will damage people's trust in you. Strive to be the best version of yourself. That's your best shot.
- Connect with the team – speak with them and learn about their lives and interests outside of Esports. Be curious about who they are.
- Be positive – use the "glass is half full" mindset. That doesn't mean ignoring the team's challenges, but accepting them, looking on the positive side, and focusing on what can be learned.
- Cover an aspect to demonstrate leadership – show your expertise right off the bat. Show your knowledge in one area to "prove" to them that you know your stuff
- Be prepared and presentable – You don't need to wear a full suit (unless you want to), but being groomed and in acceptable clothing (no pajamas please) will show that you take this seriously. Also, do your due diligence, e.g. dry run a meeting or conversation before having it.
- Be confident - respectfully stand behind what you say even if there's push-back.
Now you know more about why first impressions are so important, what people look for in them, and how you can gain the respect and trust of others as quickly as possible. All that's left to do now is to go out there and do it!
Every week we deliver a Masterclass for esports coaches. These Masterclasses are a part of the Esports Coach Development Program, where we cover esports topics and questions from coaches. To join the masterclass, click [here] to join the Next Level Esports Discord and just send a message in general chat or a DM to get access, everyone can join one time for free to check it out!
See you there, coach!
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