If you’re gathering people for a shared purpose on a regular basis, perhaps you’ve thought about how you might do it more effectively. Look no further.
The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters by Priya Parker explores the practices surrounding transformative gatherings. Priya Parker, a master facilitator and strategic advisor, walks us through valuable steps on how to craft a gathering that will live forever in a guest’s memory, a one-of-a-kind experience that temporarily creates a different world and brings about deeper connections with other guests.
In her book, Parker stresses the importance of intentionality, whether it’s for personal or workplace reasons. One of the most practical passages of this book for me was to be clear on your intentions before your planned event. Then be bold about your intent. Sit with the difference between the template you typically fall back on for meetings and what a generous and vivid gathering experience might look like. Use this gap to inspire you to design a meeting that accomplishes your bold aspirations. I use this strategy on a regular basis when I’m crafting a plan.
Here are some of Parker’s book quotes to give you a sense of her voice:
“When we do seek out gathering advice, we almost always turn to those who are focused on the mechanics of gathering: chefs, etiquette experts, floral artists, event planners. By doing so, we inadvertently shrink a human challenge down to a logistical one.” (x)
“When we don’t examine the deeper assumptions behind why we gather, we end up skipping too quickly to replicating old, staid formats of gathering.” (3)
“I do believe that hosting is inevitably an exercise of power. The hosts I guide often feel tempted to abdicate that power and feel that by doing so they are letting their guests be free. But this abdication often fails their guests rather than serves them.” (74)
“We facilitators needed to share an even more personal story than we expected our clients to. We would set the depth of the group by whatever level we were willing to go to; however much we shared, they would share a little less. We had to become, in effect, participants.” (223)
As explained by the jacket description, the book is “both journey and guide, full of exciting ideas and real-world applications. The Art of Gathering will forever alter the way you look at your next meeting, industry conference, dinner party, and backyard barbecue—and how you host and attend them.”