Is it essential to have a topic? Not essential, no. Perhaps you’ll just have a couple of people perform music. Sweet! Then you’re having a little music salon. But it is essential to have a purpose. And, frankly, isn’t that how we want to live our lives? With a sense of purpose.
And so you bring that sense of purpose with you as you prepare for having friends over. You’re not having just another dinner party, like those tedious pre-Covid by-the-blog-or-book dinner parties that are quite perfect. No, no, no. You’re having a salon! Salons aren’t hard. Anyone can have one, starting with YOU.
So let’s start here: What Are Your Interests?
For example, if you’re particularly interested in food you could do a salon on the future of food, invite in a local chef to interview, and discuss no-waste cooking.
How do you go about picking a topic or a person to whom to throw out questions?
- Look around your community. Start paying attention to those around you. What are people talking about? What do they care about? What do YOU care about? What’s interesting you these days? What’s bothering you? What are you curious about? If you’re not a curious person, salon hosting isn’t for you. Stop reading right now if you’re not curious.
- When you host a salon, you’re an active citizen. You care and you connect the dots. Start looking around and you’ll find ideas sparking up right in front of you. To consider: what are the topics that are on your mind right now? What do you want to know more about? Are there any local experts? Authors? Professors?
- Whom would you like to know more about?
- For example, did you hear about a woman from your town who completed a stunning athletic feat? She’d be a great person to interview! What made her do it? How did she prepare? What was she thinking about during the feat?
- Who has the stories around you?
- What topics are relevant to you and your friends?
- Are there touring authors coming into town? Authors love an audience, an opportunity to show their knowledge AND possibly sell some books.
- Is there a local college? Boom! There you are with a gaggle of experts who love to talk in front of a crowd. For sure the local ancient history professor would LOVE to speak to you about the similarities between the ancient Greeks and Romans and our current day. Professors are easy to contact directly; they all have their own profile page on the college’s website.
- Is there a local entrepreneur who’s made it big on the national stage? How did they get there? They’d be a great brief salon interview.
- Are there any relevant seasonal topics? Every month of the year has a historical theme now (Black History Month, Pride Month, Women’s History Month, etc.) all of which can easily become fodder for the next juicy and culturally relevant salon topic.
- As a salon host, you ask questions, and you listen a lot. Listen to the answers, listen to podcasts, listen to those around you.
- TIP: Keep an online doc with topics that interest you. Whenever I come across a person or a topic that I want to know more about, I add it to my working document of future salon ideas. For example, after meeting a woman who was a whistleblower attorney, I invited her to speak at my salon because what a great topic!
It’s likely you already have artists and experts on various subjects in your peer group, so a salon could be an opportunity to give them the floor and experience their insight in a completely different way. Even before Covid, how often did you get to know your friends as creators and teachers? We all have something to share with each other, but we need context. Hosting gives your community a platform for expression and idea exchange, but it doesn’t have to be so serious.