Do you ever find yourself in a space where people are gathered together - a routine meeting at work, a town hall or community event, a workshop or a conference - and think to yourself: "Whoever planned this is completely blowing it. Did they spend even one minute considering there are real human people in this room who need to connect more deeply with one another and the content? Did they try - even for a minute - to think about what the rest of us might need, or were they only focused on their assumptions about what a productive time together might look like?"
I believe any moment we gather a group of people together there's the possibility for magic to occur. Magic looks like this: more exciting collaboration, a sense of openness and safety, new energy invested into the work, or an increased sense of belonging.
Bottom line, any moment we're able to gather people in a room is a gift.
Unfortunately, most leaders and most organizations waste this opportunity on a daily basis by settling for the same kind of meetings, events, workshops, and conferences they've always had.
But there's another way. There's a world where the people you've gathered together say to themselves after the fact: "Wow, I feel like they were more interested in me than they were about themselves or the work. I thought I was the only one who felt or thought or worked that way - but now I see I've got more connection with my coworkers or attendees than I once thought. There's a sense that I belong."
The good news? Being more intentional about gathering people together isn't as difficult as you may think. You've already got the most important ingredient - the people in the room. You've already got the second most important ingredient - time and space. Now all we need to do is put a little more time and intention into considering how to meet the audience where they are, pull their wisdom out of their heads, create a community that's safe and meaningful, and let them rumble.
We're watching this happen right now in Impact Hub Austin's Workforce Development Accelerator. We've got nine ventures working hard to change the way Austin trains and connects good folks with good jobs, and we're doing so by being more intentional about our weekly gatherings. Follow our weekly blog here.
Changing the way you structure your group interactions will look different. And that's OK. I promise your people are secretly begging for it.