How To Bring Meaning And Magic To Your Gatherings
If you want to make sure your gatherings are successful, meaningful and enjoyable, then you need to learn the art of gathering well.
The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker takes a deep dive into the elements that contribute to memorable gatherings.
With tools and strategies for creating events that bring people together, this book will help you transform every get-together from average to extraordinary.
It delves beyond practicalities like decorations or logistics and looks at how to make any event more interesting.
From why you should selectively invite people in order to foster a supportive atmosphere, to not letting guests pour themselves a drink if you want an animated party, it explores creative tactics that can encourage human connection and make your gathering stand out.
See what happens when you take your hour-long meetings down to 25 minutes; or keep guests engaged during dessert with interactive activities.
By learning the principles in The Art of Gathering, you’ll be able to design meaningful rituals for special occasions and even end your events with an appropriate magical flourish!
Unlocking The Power Of Human Connection In Our Gatherings
Gatherings are incredibly important to the human experience, yet many times we take them for granted.
We attend weddings, business meetings, reunions and dinner parties but don’t give these events the thought or effort that would help bring people together in an interesting and meaningful way.
For example, Duncan Green in his 2016 article for The Guardian shares his frustrations with the conferences he attends—experiencing everything from boredom to rage along the way.
But it isn’t just professional gatherings that suffer from a lack of meaningfulness — friendships also fail to fulfill our expectations as a 2013 study into American friendship found that three-quarters of respondents were unsatisfied with their platonic relationships.
So how can we turn this around? All it takes is some time dedicated to thinking about how we can bring people together in a way that is engaging and enjoyable.
Instead of relying on logistics (i.e AV equipment and food) we need to focus on the people attending and create an environment where they feel heard and valued—for instance by providing opportunities for meaningful conversations or activities that spark creativity.
Fortunately, insight on how to achieve this is available in Priya Parker’s book The Art Of Gathering which offers up practical advice on hosting events where guests come away feeling connected and inspired rather than deflated.
It’S Time To Think Twice Before Gathering Together: Re-Evaluate Your Gatherings For True Purpose
No matter what type of gathering you’re planning, committing to a clear purpose should be the very first step in creating something great.
The Art of Gathering Book Summary encourages people to take the time to truly decide the WHY behind their event before diving into the WHAT.
It’s tempting to just keep on following tradition and rely on time-honored rituals for all gatherings, whether that’s quarterly meetings at work or a baby shower.
But when we pause and ask ourselves why we are getting together in the first place, it can lead to far more meaningful experiences that can be enjoyed by everyone involved.
That was certainly true for the author as she organized her baby shower while pregnant; asking “why” helped her realize she and her husband wanted a gathering to mark their transition from couplehood to familyhood – and they needed an inclusive event that supported them both in this transition!
When planning your own gathering, start by thinking about your purpose or goal – do you want to celebrate something special? Gain someone’s insights? Connect with friends who make you happy? By focusing on why your gathering matters, you’ll be able to tailor the details of your event around ensuring those goals are reached.
Sometimes Being Exclusionary Is The Best Way To Create A Compelling Group
The Art of Gathering teaches us that being willing to exclude people from a gathering is an important step toward creating something meaningful.
This isn’t always an easy thing to do, especially when politeness takes over and inclusion seems like the only option.
The author used her own example of a workout group of six friends in which one person proposed bringing an outside friend onto their group as an example.
The group’s members initially weren’t comfortable with the idea, but after some reflection realized that the primary purpose of their meeting was not just exercising, but to be able to socialize and catch up as friends- something they couldn’t do if they were including someone they didn’t know.
The lesson here is that it can be beneficial – even necessary – to limit who you invite when building a meaningful gathering.
For example, Judson Manor, a retirement community in Ohio, has only extended invitations to retirees and five college music students who perform recitals at the residence in exchange for free accommodation.
This unique compromise benefits both parties: students save money on housing and seniors enjoy game night entertainment and passionate young minds amongst them.
Without taking such measures by setting narrow parameters for who could attend, the combination wouldn’t have been possible or successful had it included any other population such as business majors.
Being able to make sometimes uncomfortable decisions about who should be invited for a gathering is key for hosting it well and achieving your goals for it.
Embrace Generous Authority And Establishing Rules For A Successful Gathering
When it comes to delivering successful events, the key is in how the host approaches the task.
Those who take on a hands-off ‘laid back’ approach often end up failing their guests and not providing them with the memorable experience they were hoping for.
On the other hand, those who show generous authority consistently deliver better events than their more relaxed counterparts.
For example, when the author was at a housewarming party in Brooklyn, it fell into an unavoidable lull after everyone had eaten.
The author suggested to the hosts that they initiate a game of Werewolf – but rather than doing so and taking on a leadership role as organizer, the hosts were happy enough to just let fate take its course; this led to guests eventually leaving early and an opportunity missed.
Another example comes from when the author facilitated a conference for 120 attendees involved in rearing cattle and selling grass-fed beef.
Being mindful of wanting all guests to think of themselves as part of one unified group she decided to impose her authority by having all attendees move to another table after each speech.
Although initially met with resistance due to its restrictive nature, at the end of the day everybody acknowledged that they had made connections that would have otherwise been missed had they stayed at their initial seats.
So remember: instead of being too laid back and forfeiting your responsibility towards your gathering and guests, hosting with generous authority will always lead to better results – helping attendees not only enjoy themselves but also obtain genuine value from what you offer them!
Rules Can Help Us To Become More Present And Liberate Us From Overwhelming Choices
Having explicit rules for your events can be surprisingly liberating.
Rather than restricting freedom, they can in fact bring out the best in people and foster meaningful connection.
Take the Latitude Society, a secretive networking organization that used to host underground invitation-only gatherings in San Francisco.
Their rules were designed with the goal of encouraging bonding and belonging between attendees, such as not allowing anyone to pour themselves a drink—forcing them to ask someone else instead.
This brought people together in an informal manner which helped them overcome any initial awkwardness.
The same concept works even when technology is increasingly infiltrating gatherings today.
The author and her husband created ‘I am Here’ days, a weekend event for their friends based around exploring a new neighbourhood of New York.
One of their key rules was no technology allowed for the entire weekend – enabling everyone to be present in the moment and make the most out of their experience together.
These examples demonstrate how enforcing focus on one thing at an event can have the liberating effect of bringing out genuine engagement from attendees—whereas offering too many choices can often lead to overwhelmed guests or hasty decisions which are more encouraged by convenience than conscious choice.
How To Kick Off Your Gathering In Just The Right Way: Priming Expectations, Making Guests Feel Welcome, And Encouraging Authenticity
The key to a successful gathering lies in setting the right tone and expectations.
Priming your guests well and honoring them on arrival will help get your gathering off to a great start.
One way of priming can be as simple as making a request of your guests which can get them into the right frame of mind.
For example, when Michel Laprise was organizing a pre-Christmas gathering for colleagues after a long tour, he requested that everybody send him photos from two happy occasions they’d had during the year.
Then, on the day of the event, he used the photos to decorate a Christmas tree – giving people something to look forward to and some time to reflect before celebrating!
Honoring your guests is also crucial in creating an atmosphere that encourages authenticity.
Sugata Roychowdhury demonstrated this perfectly by taking attendance for 70 students from memory and speaking each person’s name aloud with eye contact – which undoubtedly made his students feel both honored and excited about being in his class!
This kind of meaningful gesture doesn’t have to so specific – even decorating the table beautifully before having friends over for what they think is just lunch speaks volumes!
How To Bring Authenticity And Vulnerability To Your Gatherings: Ask For Stories And Lead By Example
With the right format, it is possible to design a gathering that encourages your guests to bring out their authentic selves.
As an example of how it can be done, look no further than the author’s dinner at the World Economic Forum.
Rather than focusing on dry exchanges of professional boasting, she chose a theme and format designed to avoid this – “The Good Life”.
To encourage people to speak, she asked them all at one point in the evening to stand up and give a toast about their definitions of the good life, each starting with a personal story from their own lives.
This resulted in some truly raw, honest moments; with stories like never before being shared and tears being shed.
It showed what is truly possible when trying to get people’s real selves out in the open; rather than simply dwelling on their achievements and successes.
To start such a process off and get individuals more engaged, ask for stories as people are intuitively drawn towards risk, emotion and vulnerability when it comes to storytelling.
This allows you as well as your guests to take risks by showing your vulnerabilities too – whatever they may be.
So if you want your gathering to bring out something more than just glossed-over versions of your guests’ lives then consider how you can encourage them to share more openly with each other through stories – both yours and theirs.
Ensure Great Endings By Allowing Unfinished Business And Setting The Stage For Life-Long Memories
Being a great host doesn’t stop at beginning and planning a successful gathering, but extends to ending one with a bang.
Too often when we hold events or get togethers, the energy gets lost as time passes and things start to come mini conclusion.
However, that does not have to be the case.
The first step to a great ending is to avoid fizzling out.
You can try implementing a ‘last call’ in your own home like bars do – this gives you chance to thank everyone for their attendance while making it clear they don’t have to stay if they are tired, however those who want to hang around longer can retire comfortably elsewhere.
The other element of an ending is how it will be remembered by those in attendance.
For example, the author’s father-in-law teaches a class on management consulting and ends each semester with them learning and mastering something different – such as magic tricks – thus it leaves room for something memorable that could even symbolize what they learned during his classes.
Thus it’s possible for endings of gatherings to be powerful instead of blasé; all you need is foresight and preparation in order for that amazing finish!
In conclusion, The Art of Gathering is an essential guide for anyone who wants to transform their gatherings from boring and forgotten affairs into memorable experiences that have lasting value.
It emphasizes breaking out of the status quo and embracing a generous approach towards gathering by understanding the importance of setting rules, inspiring guests to be themselves and finding meaningful locations.
This book helps with actionable advice, such as thinking carefully about where you want to host gatherings.
Whether it’s a college reunion or business event, ensuring the location embodies and reflects your gathering’s purpose will create engagements that are more fulfilling and exciting.
In other words, think outside the box when it comes to gatherings!
With helpful advice from The Art of Gathering anyone can become an expert at leading memorable events!