The most important factor in dressing professionally
Potential clients you meet will automatically accept you as a swimming professional if you are dressed correctly. The first step in gaining a credible and professional image for a swimming Lifeguard training professional is realizing that you can control the opinions of others, especially concerning what they think you are capable of.
Everyday, dress and act in a way that gives others a great experience of you. Now I have many friends in the swimming industry that disagree with me here and feel that wet swimmers, dripping hair, thongs and a raggedy old towel or sarong is acceptable to their clientele for our “profession”.
However, I will totally disagree; perhaps 20 – 30 years ago, we could get away with it, but in this day and age, a level of professionalism is required, whether we are on pool deck or in the swimming pool, like it or not, if we do not create a great impression, then our competitors will.
As swimming school owner, swimming school managers or coordinators, even swimming teachers have to portrait a better image for desired results. Dressing the part is not shallow, vain or phony. You aren’t conning people, simply setting and emotional and physical climate to impress.
Ask yourself what are the characteristic associated with the image, you want to project to future clients? The initial impression, you make on other people, comes from 55% Visual, 38% Vocal and 7% Verbal. So here are a few tips, I have put together from my experiences.
The impression you make on others can be broken down into 4 basic components. Each is judge subliminally and by degrees. Not only will you be judged as trustworthy or not, but how trustworthy, you appear to be we’ll also be determined. To a parent who is enrolling their children into swimming lesson with you, you must look trustworthy and capable. Their children are their most treasured and valued possession they own.
1. Your credibility
You may have had the luxury of a referral or a good reputation preceding your first meeting with your future clients however your level of believability, apparent qualifications,even intelligence, competence, trustworthiness, honesty and sincerity will be judged within the first 5 to 7 seconds.
2. Your likability
This is why a big smile and a great positive energy are so important to a professional swimming teacher. How likeable, endearing, emotionally, expressive and sociable your appear to be, is important. If you can establish rapport quickly, you future clients, will feel more comfortable. Through your dress, behavior, voice, tonality, seniority and experience, nationality, age, sex all makes a difference to how you are perceived. The day of being a anti-social gruff swimming coach is over. Parents or future students want to see social skills and likability.
3. Your personal attractiveness
It is important for us to present ourselves as the best we can be. I am not talking about how beautiful, slim, young or fashionable you are, but how well you manage and present yourself. Great grooming, posture and dress sense, says much about your level of self-esteem, self-respect and confidence.
By taking the time to dress in a smart polo shirt, tailored shorts and suitable footwear creates the professional appearance of your trade. If you are between sessions, instead of dripping wet with a towel around you, invest in a thick towelling white dressing gown, have it embroidered “specialist swim instructor” on the back, with your name on the front. Impressive and professional.
4. Your confidence.
If you are brimming with positive, warm, energy, it will be felt especially by young children. Again your perceived level of power, ability, personal sureness and authority comes from your appearance and carriage. So pull those shoulder back and walk tall.
Do you know what you look like through the eyes of others?
When building a successful image, let’s determine what your current image really is. We all have a current image and the challenge is to develop and accurate picture of yourself as perceived by others. Have someone take several pictures of you during your normal working day, arriving to work, in the pool, behind the counter, leaving after work, all the situations where your clientele see you. I certainly remember, being shocked, when I had a critical look at myself in my work environment, many years ago.
When I was concentrating and studying a students stroke, I was actually frowning and looked very stern on pool deck. I am a very casual bubbly swim teacher so my “visual perception on pool deck” to prospective clients was terrible and quiet the opposite of my actual teaching style. So i had to make a change.
Now where can you improve?
Professional image killers
When dealing with a new parent or children these are definitely things to avoid.
- Commencing anything with an apology.
- A wimpy handshake or voice.
- Being late.
- Turning up unprepared and muddled.
- Closed body language.
- Forgetting names.
- Ignoring both children and students until the lesson starts.
As swimming professionals, we should already know the following, however I am going to include them in this articles as gentle reminders, as I often see these mistakes at swim centers’ I visit.
Swimming Teachers should be aware of the messages that our body conveys. They should also rely on vocal variety, posture and facial expressions. Avoid nervous habits such as clearing your throat, sniffing your nose, holding your hand in front of your face while talking or touching your hair constantly.
Stand up straight
Especially when teaching students be well grounded. Stand with your weight equally on both feet. This will eliminate shifting of the body and fatigue and will make you look more energized. Don’t lean on the pool edge or sit down. You lose 50% of your power when you show others, that you need assistance to remain upright.
Use open large gestures whenever possible to relax those you are talking too. Appear open, honest and communicable and never stop smiling, even when things aren’t going your way. Know what your face says. It is the most controllable non-verbal cue and it also is the one people rely on most to gauge your attitude, feelings and emotional state. Learn to smile with your eyes especially with children. They feel your joy. If you frown when you concentrating, it’s not a good look, use your mirror and learn to change.
Vocal Impact and Speak clearly
Speak with clarity, there is an old saying “Brevity is power”, so don’t talk too much. Articulate and pronounce your words well, peak using a wide pitch range and varying your rate accordingly.
Always be the best example.
Unfortunately proper etiquette and respect is not always taught to children of today, so we as aquatic professionals should always be trying to set the example. Lifeguard training Getting along with others, demonstrating good manners and pleasantries should be exemplary. At all times, we should be showing and earning the respect of our students, not in a patronizing way, but out of genuine respect, care and thoughtfulness for others. You never know how impactful you as a teacher can be.
I always had a saying “The pool has eyes! ” meaning we should always be consistent however if we are growing to do something slightly unsavory, it should done behind closed doors, away from the prying eyes of others.i.e. Smoking.
Here’s to you, the professional swimming instructor creating that perfect professional image and increasing your business reputation and credibility. If you know someone who could use this knowledge, please with my blessing pass it on. Who knows wouldn’t it be wonderful to have more “masters swim teachers” over the next few years. This has been Kerre Burley from the Next Generation Aquatic’s for the Masters of the Aquatic Industry online Internet membership.