Through this welcome call we are aiming to:
People will be arriving in the call for around the first 5 minutes, it’s important to make them feel welcome and comfortable as soon as they enter the call. One confident MC directing timing, repeating a welcome as people arrive and having a pre-prepared starter is ideal. A starter, such as asking five people from the CU to share their favourite spots on campus, reduces the amount of talking needed from the host and helps freshers to feel ‘part of the group’ immediately.
This is a more formal welcome where the host thanks people for coming and explains the purpose of the call. The host will then run everyone through the contents of the meeting. If new people join the call late do remember to extend another broad welcome and communicate what is currently happening to help them feel part of the event.
The first breakout room is an opportunity for new students to connect with other freshers, as well as existing CU members. Each breakout group should be about 4-6 people (including an existing CU member) and should be led by one person (ideally an Impact Group leader) who will introduce themselves and then ask each person “Where are you from?” and “What are you studying?”. Keep the tone light and friendly, remembering that everyone is new to the group, and use the follow-up questions/icebreakers below if you have time to spare and conversation is lagging.
This section is an opportunity to explain what the uni has planned for freshers’ week (perhaps with an interview or video from an SU rep), how and when students will move into halls and other useful ‘inside’ information that might calm worries and help freshers to feel part of the university before they even arrive.
You should also share what the CU is and why it exists. You might like to show this ‘What is a CU?’ video designed just for new students. Download it here and remember to use the ‘Optimise for video clip’ option when sharing your screen. Then share what the CU plans to do during the first weeks of term, highlighting that the CU is ready to welcome people.
You may also want to use this time to talk about local churches. Consider having a few of your existing CU students present to talk about the churches they attend. Advertise your church search if you’re running one. This is a great way for you to show freshers the importance of being part of a local church.
Now is the time to also launch a poll of popular questions, using the Zoom poll function (or you could use a Slido code). Students will have an opportunity to vote on the questions later in the call. See Appendix 2: Example Poll Questions. Use the poll function in Zoom (only the host of the call can do this). Post pre-written questions and make sure settings in Zoom are set so attendees can only communicate with the host.
People love stories and this is a great opportunity to hear from a second-year student about their experience. Make sure you have lined up an existing CU member beforehand and they know what you will ask them. The interview should focus first on the university experience and then move on to how CU life fitted into that, before finishing with the top 2 questions from the poll. Good questions might be:
This is a chance to address some of the other top questions in the poll. Because the questions are prearranged, it’s a good idea to prepare your answers in advance of the meeting.
Second breakout room – 15 mins
This is a more focussed time for new students to ask their burning questions of second years, to discuss the polled questions and – if there is time – to chat more with one another. These breakout rooms should be the same as earlier and the host for each should have been briefed and resourced with questions.
As breakout room host, start by emphasising that you’re happy to answer any question about starting uni and then point people to the questions in the poll. Ask:
This is where the MC will enthusiastically invite people to connect with the CU community and explains what this could look like. See What comes next? How to follow up for more.
This is the final word from your MC. It’s the time to share again the welcome you want to extend to new students, to positively reinforce that this first term at university will be packed with opportunities for fun and making friends, and to say thank you to everyone for joining the call. Make sure to end the call for everyone as soon as you say goodbye.
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