I hosted one event each month for the start of 2020 as part of a conversation series called: 2020 Visions: Conversations for Chaotic Times.
The owner of a space reached out to see if I wanted to host events in her space and I spoke with her for all of 30 minutes, to understand her interests in bringing people together. What kind of conversations did she want to have?
She was overwhelmed and concerned about the state of the country going into this election year. She was overwhelmed and concerned about our planet and people not waking up to climate change fast enough. She was overwhelmed by the amount of news she was consuming.
So, we chose big topics: What is “self-care”? Where do you start with climate change? How do you make sure the content level you’re consuming is constructive?
And instead of researching each topic for hours, prepping structured points and trying to ensure that attendees would walk away feeling like experts at a given topic — I acknowledged that these are big, wicked topics that would never feel sufficiently covered in just the span of a two hour event.
The invitation then was to join a conversation to simply share our own feelings about each topic, to come together in physical space to feel less alone in the overwhelm, to just be a group of humans who see something familiar or learn something new in a stranger’s story.
I’ve learned that the kinds of events I most easily and confidently host are ones where there is no expectation that people will walk away with a set new skill or information set. The expectation is, first and foremost, connection through open sharing and exchange.
It’s not hard to think about something you want people to connect over and then send an invitation to the conversation. (Here’s an example of a topic I recently invited two friends to explore with me).
Most people are so eager and willing to be invited to a conversation, to be given space to share.
This is something you can provide for others with under a few hours of planning prep and a couple hours of execution.
Create the space, set the topic, put some guardrails on the container and welcome people in.