Has it ever crossed your mind what makes up a good and successful gathering? We spend a large part of our lives gathering with others, from Monday morning team catch-ups to Friday night cocktails, book groups, and board meetings. However, it is rare that we actually take a step back and consider what goes into a truly meaningful and exciting gathering.

When I saw her TED talk a few months ago about the 3 steps to turn everyday get-togethers into transformative gatherings, and after a friend recommendation, I knew I had to read her book.

This book is about to put together an unforgettable gathering of people, from family gatherings, to conferences.

Gatherings are not only a huge part of life, but they are a large part of simply being human. However, far too often is the time we spend actually gathering with others underwhelming and uninspiring.

It sounds straightforward, but it’s not.

In this summary of The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker, you’ll learn

  • Why taking people off the invite list might actually be the key to making your gathering successful;
  • Why not allowing guests to pour their own drinks might make for a more fun party; and
  • How to create the perfect end to a gathering.

I learned that an event starts when you send out the invite, not when people arrive to your event.

I learned that your event should not start with announcement and logistics. Instead your opening should be a kind of shock therapy.

I learned how to host an event in a way that keeps the audience glued to the event and not lose focus or be distracted.

There is more to learn from this book.



Useful to those whose job it is to plan meetings, conferences, and the like and a worthy survival manual for consumers of the same.

It is has fascinating stories, great insights and I highly recommend it.

“Hosts of all kinds, this is a must-read!” — Chris Anderson, owner and curator of TED

My favourite quotes

  • “To get the group to be vulnerable, he said, we facilitators needed to share an even more personal story than we expected our clients to. We would set the depth of the group by whatever level we were willing to go to; however much we shared, they would share a little less. We had to become, in effect, participants.”
  • “In a group, if everybody thinks about the other person’s needs, everyone’s needs are actually fulfilled in the end. But if you only think about yourself, you are breaking that contract.”
  • “When Gergen hosts a panel and Q&A time comes, he often instructs the audience: “If you would, identify yourself, be fairly succinct, and remember that a question ends with a question mark.” When an audience member inevitably begins making a long statement, Gergen interrupts repeatedly if need be: “Can you put that into a question? . . . Can you put that into a question? . . . Is this leading to a question?” It may seem to some that he is being mean, but in”
  • “Your opening needs to be a kind of pleasant shock therapy. It should grab people. And in grabbing them, it should both awe the guests and honor them. It must plant in them the paradoxical feeling of being totally welcomed and deeply grateful to be there.”
  • “You may well ask, Why does my gathering have to “take a stand”? It’s not the Battle of the Alamo. I have heard this question before. Virtually every time I push my clients to go deeper with their gathering’s purpose, there is a moment when they seem to wonder if I am preparing them for World War III. Yet forcing yourself to think about your gathering as stand-taking helps you get clear on its unique purpose.”


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