How to Talk to Newcomers

Written by Perin de la Serena, DWS (Sara Lewis)

One of the most important things everyone can do to improve recruiting and retention in the SCA is to make people feel welcome, particularly by giving a good impression on their first visit.  To do this, we need to both develop our skills with good inter-personal communication and be aware of some potentially negative language and situations. Not everyone automatically feels comfortable talking with new people, so here is my list of 10 tips for how to engage with new people.


1. Stop and say hi. Give a brief explanation of the SCA and the event they are at.

2. Introduce yourself using an easy to remember name; beware lengthy title explanations.

3. Ask for their name and use it.

4. Listen to what interests them/how they heard about the SCA.

Photo by Sigrid Ulfsdottir de Lacey

5. Avoid negativity. Don’t mock their interests or connections to the SCA. Be careful of harsh humor directed at the new person or other members of the group. Keep discussions ‘clean’, particularly with minors and women.

6. Introduce them to at least one other person with a bit of context (such as what they do in the SCA). Tie in with the new person’s stated interests and background to help them make a connection.

7. Incorporate the new person into conversation if at all possible. If not, try “we’re talking about X, if you are still here later, we can talk more then.” Introduce the new person to the other people in the conversation.

8. Leave them with something concrete to learn more and do more. For instance, make sure they have the webpage/FB group information and invite them to fighter practice/a baronial event/arts workshop.

9. Follow up. If you see them again, say hi and that it is great to see them again. Ask if they are meeting people/getting resources/wanting to try something. This is the stage where it is easiest to lose someone who was invested enough to come check it out. Keep with it as they will be new and needing help/encouragement for a while. This is pivotal for helping shy people connect with the group.

10. Show up. It’s easier to get a new person excited about the SCA when fighter practice is well-attended and there are lots of cool things going on to talk about. It’s more fun, high-energy, and leaves a positive impact.

Many people have a story about a rude welcome and a warm welcome. Once, while visiting a practice in a foreign Kingdom in stealth mode, someone told me “You don’t belong here.” They were trying to keep people from wandering into the fighting (a persistent issue due to the venue), but words matter, and you never know who’s listening.  At a different practice on that same trip, I was adopted into the extended family and now have friends all over the world. The overall impression of the group is much more positive if everyone is involved in making it a warm welcome. Reach out to new people and talk to your fellow SCA folks if you see negative or creepy behavior. Together, we can keep the Dream alive.



The above information was written by Doña Perin de la Serena, DWS (Sara Lewis), Photo by Sigrid Ulfsdottir de Lacey