First, if you will not be at the Thursday meetup tomorrow, you can safely ignore this email. Otherwise please read it. It takes less than 5 minutes.
A heads-up, I’ve tweaked the format a little to allow an exception to the no-promotion rule.
Details: Thursday evening at 7PM on March 11. 20 Cooper Sq, room 654. RSVP by 3PM on Thursday. No exceptions.
This week we’ll have a special format. We’ll go around the table clockwise starting with the person to my left. Each person will speak for a couple of minutes, say who you are, and talk about whatever you want to talk about.
For a few minutes we are all ears. We have to listen to whatever you want to say. But there are some ground rules. If you don’t read them you will be embarrassed, and you don’t want that — so read them!
We’ll go around the table clockwise starting with the person to my left. Each person will speak for a couple of minutes, say who you are, and talk about whatever you want to talk about.
For a few minutes we are all ears. We have to listen to whatever you want to say. But there are some groundrules. If you don’t read them you will be embarrassed, and you don’t want that — so read them!
1. You may not talk about yourself.
2. You may not talk about a product you sell or the organization you work for. In other words — no pitches, we are not part of a business model for you. We will groan loudly if you start promoting something commercial, so please don’t do it.
3. Give us a nugget. Tell a story. Something with a moral. Some way the world sucks. Some way the world is great. Make us laugh. Reach our hearts. Inspire.
4. Think of it as an intellectual potluck. You bring an idea, we all taste it. (Don’t worry about whether we like it. Even if we don’t we’ll say we do.)
5. You can demo a product in your slot, but it must not be your product. Exception: You have been explicitly invited to demo a product of your own.
The ground rules for the other people.
1. We listen to the person speaking. Listening is a lot harder than most people think it is.
2. You can read your email if you want, but think about the person speaking and how they feel. Here they are pouring their heart out. If you can listen to them and really hear what they’re saying *and* tweet something or read Facebook or whatever, go for it.
This is consistent with the first rule of BloggerCon format — there is no audience, no panel, no speaker. The room is the story. Only this time, we’re going to keep the role of the Discussion Leader to a minimum. Each of you is responsible for leading your own discussion. Be mindful not to take too much time, because there’s only 1.5 hours. Divide by the number of people there.
Now — what to do about people who either don’t read the guidelines, or show up late and didn’t hear the opening schpiel (which I promise to keep very short). I don’t know the answer. Let’s look to the room to make a decision about what to do, in real time, as it’s happening. I’m not going to say what we’ll do, other than it’s almost certain to come up.
In the meantime, I wrote up a new updated version of the BloggerCon rules, believe me, you’re going to get a lot of links to this piece. If you want to skip ahead you can read the whole thing now.
Also, you can forward this email to anyone you like, as long as you personally feel they will make a contribution to the discussion on Thursday. (So there’s no concept of “being invited” to these meetups. They are open. That’s important too. We do reserve the right to ask people not to participate, this is a private facility, but in the years we were running this meetup at Harvard (starting in 2003, continuing to this day) as far as I know we never asked anyone not to come.)
This is all about everyone participating and taking responsibility. If we get around the table with everyone feeling they’ve been heard, no matter what they’re speaking about, and if you feel you really heard from a dozen or more people, that may be more than you accomplish at all the conferences you go to this year. Maybe all the conferences you’ve been to in your life.
That was a lot to read, but this format is about listening and being heard, so thanks very much for listening!
Big hugs, and looking forward to seeing you on Thursday!