They want to be there. They feel lucky to be there. They might well be considering giving the gathering their all. Your next task is to fuse people, to turn a motley collection of attendees into a tribe. A talented gatherer doesn’t hope for disparate people to become a group. She makes them a group.
“The Art of Gathering” by Priya Parker goes into detail about the elements of not just coordinating an event but making sure it’s a purposeful event for attendees. It sounds basic, but with examples from the author’s real-life experiences and public experiences, you realize these elements are not taken into consideration most of the time at the events you attend or plan.
I read this book because I’m active in so many organizations and sometimes want to offer my amateur services of coordinating an event. But I’ve clashed with a women’s group I’m involved in because they didn’t want the sense of sisterhood. With seeing other women’s groups succeed in attendance with members expressing their affection for the events and the groups, I felt sisterhood is a must with a hobby organization that usually meets on the weekend. It’s the solution to luring attendees to an event who would have to navigate Los Angeles traffic to get to an event they had to be at. And I realized you don’t really need guests that would be seen as celebrities; the group can fuse into a tribe and create a purposeful atmosphere.
When reading this book, I thought to myself I’m on the right track, but many others are not. The lack of purpose and connection destroys a lot of events where attendees or members dwindle, which the author emphasizes. She discusses how to open an event, how to close an event, and what to do in the middle. There’s even a section on how an event may be dying and how to resuscitate it during a break. One section sticks out when the author was at a friend’s funeral and the priest started the service with parking logistics amid everyone’s mourning. It showed the importance of the first words to be uttered to set the tone for an event. She also mentioned how she would end dinner parties with thanking everyone for coming as a hint it was time for them to go home. To resolve this, she and her husband would move the party from the dining room when everyone finished eating into the living room as a soft close. This created a break for the attendees who had to leave, though she would emphasize it was a part of the event, and the ones who stayed would talk and drink until everyone left on their own.
The author again expertly weaves so many personal events since she’s a founder of a transformative event planning agency with professional events. She also sprinkles events she read about in the media with picking out the elements in the article that the average reader probably did not notice. This book is a must-read if you’re interested in coordinating events with care or learning how to do so. It will be a useful guide that you’ll return to when planning events with purpose.