“As in ancient circles of elders it was known, council members come to know that they each bring a piece of truth to the circle…Sometimes a single individual is more in touch with the larger truth.” – ‘UTNE’s Salonkeeper’s Companion’
And this is the primary reason to invite each of your guests to speak up at a salon, the most biggest introvert on the guest list might have the key to open up the conversation in a whole new way. But since public speaking is up there with being murdered as one of most people’s biggest fears, it’s necessary to create space in the conversation to take questions, comments and anecdotes (that don’t go on forever) from your guests.
As the host, you’re in the best position to know what your guests are individually passionate about and draw that out either in sidebar conversations or in the salon discussion at large. Once you’ve chosen the theme or topic, consider which of your friends or friends of friends might have the most interesting perspectives to bring to the night. While we do encourage creating space for your guests to speak within the format, we don’t suggest you having a free-for-all open format. That sort of approach tends to result in a bit of chaos at best, a competition at worst.
SIDEBAR: Training Your Guests
With each salon, the Run of Show gets easier and easier because you train your guests as you go. What do I mean? Well, returning guests will become more familiar with how the evening is going to go and, therefore, feel more at ease. In fact, as time goes on you’ll find they will actually help co-host the evening with you without even realising it. Well-trained guests are super warm to newcomers and make them feel welcome, keep them company while they get a drink and ask them interested questions. Frequent guests who have become a part of your salon community do a fantastic job of making newbies feel at home.
All of this is important because it takes a ton of pressure off you, the host. Instead, you feel like you’re all in it together, collectively enjoying this experience. The first time I hosted a salon in London, the guests were hesitant about getting into the food. Now they know there’s no virtue in waiting for the go-ahead and immediately help themselves to food if they are hungry, organically paving the way for the first-timers.
As you embark upon your hosting journey be mindful that you’re the fearless captain of this ship. Giving directions is not micromanaging, unless, of course, it is. Your guests will almost certainly appreciate cues on the flow of the evening and will ultimately help you drive the ship. And check out more pro-tips about How to Be a Good Guest.