Once in a while things come across our radar from all sides, and so it was with Priya Parker’s book The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters. The day after ordering my copy, I walked into my colleague Mikala’s office and saw it sitting on her desk. Mikala McFerren coordinates all of the hospitality for Education Beyond the Walls, a bona-fide event-planning machine. She also has five children and many grandchildren, so wrangling large, quality family gatherings also seems close to her heart. We asked Mikala to share her favorite takeaways from the book:
Helping people feel welcome is key to my role as Administrative Assistant for Education Beyond the Walls so I appreciate Ms. Parker’s experienced viewpoint on creating welcoming environments, from business meetings and conferences to weddings and funerals, as well as dinner parties and social meet-ups. She focuses on eight key points, keeping it simple for non-event-planners to follow, all of which can be summed up with one word: intentional. Knowing why you’re meeting, who should be invited and could benefit from the get-together, what will be discussed (Creating ‘good’ controversy is recommended! See chapters 6 & 7), and how to create the temporary alternative world of your gathering—all have a purpose and should be on purpose. The author shares interviews from a wide range of clients in various types of meetings, giving examples of wonderfully successful, as well as regretfully forgettable, events. This is a fun, enlightening read, based more on the philosophy of gathering, not the checklist of things to do.
For additional information on the book and the writing process behind it, check out this interview with Ms. Parker in The New York Times.