I’ve been a planner of events – both personal and professional – for most of my life. I’ve planned meetings, small dinners with friends, family gatherings, and corporate events. When done well, these get-togethers tug at something deep and soulful inside of me. After all, there’s something magical about being with others.
I’d like to think Priya Parker would agree. She wrote “The Art of Gathering,” a beautiful book that both inspired me and allowed me to articulate what makes an event worthwhile.
To start with, Parker asserts that events are not about a bunch of checked-off details. They shouldn’t be about creating a setting or making a place beautiful.
The reason for creating the moment, she says, is about the people or, more specifically, getting “the right people in a room (to) help them collectively think, dream, argue, envision, trust and connect for a larger purpose.”
In other words, much less Martha Stewart and the right kind of tableware, and more human engagement.
Her premise makes sense. In my experience, logistics are the easy part. Logistics are utilitarian and certainly require consideration and negotiation skills, (think accessibility, restrooms, parking, affordability) but it’s really the purpose of the event that matters.
I marvel when the preparation, invitation, structure, and rules for an event inspire meaningful connections between participants and spark momentum and action afterwards.
“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,” Parker writes. “And we forgo the possibility of creating something memorable, even transformative.”
Here are 12 takeaways I gathered from her book:
After reading this book, I was inspired to attend an event Parker curated last fall in Minneapolis. I wanted to experience an event planned with her creativity and precision. I also was hoping to meet the author in person. I wasn’t disappointed on either account.
After all, gathering is an art, not a science. Parker proves that well.