The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker

Summary

  1. Parker walks us through how to think about and honest a meaningful gathering. It does take some extra thought and time, but the rewards are well worth it. “It is the way people gather that makes all the difference, that influences what happens in it and how successful it is. The little design choices you can make to make your gatherings soar. How to make gatherings meaningful and memorable”

Key Takeaways

  1. Step 1 is committing to a bold, sharp purpose – when should we gather and why
    1. We gather to solve problems you can’t solve alone, to mourn and celebrate, to show strength and honor
    2. Don’t mistake category (networking night) for purpose (helping clients connect with potential business partners)
    3. The more narrowly a community defined itself the more passion it arouses.
    4. Uniqueness is also important. How is this different? How is it disputable? Not everyone should agree with the point of the gathering 
    5. Work backwards – start with purpose, the outcome you want to achieve 
  2. Step 2 – who you include (and exclude)
    1. Who belongs and why is important. Exclusion can be generous for all the core members
    2. There are certain magic numbers in group gatherings – 6, 12-15, 30, 100-200
  3. Where you host your event is just as important as why 
    1. Seek a place that embodies why you’re meeting
  4. Don’t be a “chill” host – take initiative and being forth the intended purpose of your meeting 
    1. Find ways to create connections between your guests. Ask for peoples names and something they like, some connection they have or mutual interest, be overly generous in food and compliments 
    2. Enforce rules and exclusion principles 
  5. A gathering begins the moment a guest learns about it. The role of priming guests and building anticipation is underappreciated. 90% of what makes a gathering successful is done before the actual gathering. Communicate clearly to explain what the guests are signing up for 
  6. Find ways to honor your guests, going above and beyond what is normally expected
  7. Your guests have voluntarily (most likely) chosen to be there – now it is your job to turn a motley Crue into a tribe. Find ways to loop everyone into a question – “how many of you can relate to this question?” “I’ve been surprised to see how many people have nodded their heads in agreement in the past and I’m curious if you all have had the same experience…”
  8. Good controversy helps the discussion move forward but it often needs to be designed for and brought about as people tend to be polite and not want to stir the pot 
  9. How you close is equally important as how you start. Share what you hope people will walk away with, what you’ve learned. Need to ask people to look inward and reflect on what they just learned and to look outward and see how they’ll take what they just learned out into the world – what do I want to bring from “this world” to my “normal world”? You can do a “lot call” for physical gatherings to ease the transition and close. Never end a meeting with logistics or announcements, make it a powerful moment. Can thank people and talk about logistics as the second to last item on the agenda 
  10. End of gathering gifts can be very important – how can you turn an impermanent memory into a permanent one with a gift or reminder?
  11. Finish by recalling your purpose 

What I got out of it

  1. Some great step-by-step instructions in how to be thoughtful about gatherings. Focused more on offline, but easy to make the leap to online gatherings as well