In May, when Priya Parker launched her book The Art of Gathering, I knew it would be the perfect read for my co-workers. Since I am always looking for an opportunity to host a party, I offered to lead the discussion. I already lead my own personal bookclub Mrs. Twist Reads This, and I was up for the challenge.
The Art of Gathering “draws on Parker’s expertise as a facilitator of high-powered gatherings around the world, and takes us inside events of all kinds to show what works, what doesn’t, and why. She investigates a wide array of gatherings–conferences, meetings, a courtroom, a flash-mob party, an Arab-Israeli summer camp–and explains how simple, specific changes can invigorate any group experience.
The result is a book that’s both journey and guide, full of exciting ideas with 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.”
I wanted this to be interactive, not just me sitting at the front of the room talking, so I enlisted the help of Kahoot – an online game-based learning and trivia platform used on our campus by professors, but it’s also a popular tool in business. It helps you create all kinds of fun ways to facilitate learning. I wrote seven questions I came up with using important points in the book and the group played along. We also used the book to find key concepts that coordinated with the questions.
Before the book club gathering, I asked the group to come with three ideas they found interesting and willing to adapt or try and a concept that seemed out of their comfort zone. We took time between trivia questions to share their responses.
Since we combined two different departments to collaborate on this book club, I felt it was important to get to know one another to find common interests. Before we started, everyone shared their name and two fun facts about themselves. When they arrived at our gathering they were asked to write down on a slip of paper their favorite book as a child. I pulled out the slips of paper throughout our discussion and it was fun trying to figure out who wrote what.
The most important rule: You cannot have a book club without food! I enlisted the help of Georgie Girl Bake Shop for the delicious and stunningly creative sugar cookies. She designed Miss Bee’s graduation party cookies so I knew she could make something fab. I showed her a copy of the cover art from the book and TCU’s current tagline “Lead On.” She made cute bookmarks and purple bookworms, too.
I also had my niece, who is very handy with her sewing machine, help me construct candy bags from pages of an old book. She sewed up the sides with colorful thread. They were the perfect pouches for everyone’s personal candy stash.
Speaking of color, I knew this gathering called for a big tray of colorful candy! I bought bags of Dots, Hot Tamales, Lemon Heads, Sour Patch Kids, Licorce twists, Skittles and jelly beans and filled a white tray.
And to wash all the sugar down…little cans of sparkling lemonade piled in an ice bucket with colorful napkins and matching straws!
Everybody wins at the end of a gathering is the moral to this story. We fed our intellect with a new subject matter. We noshed on fun and creative snacks. We learned something new and we made connections. I’d said we scored an A+ at The Art of Gathering!