On February 28, 2018 we hosted our second Circle Host Forum on Hosting Your First Meeting.
If you weren’t able to join us live, you can listen to the recording here:
Thanks to our panelists:
- Henry Edwards, Circle Host in Annondale Virginia and Circle Participant (Closed Circle)
- Jen Lemberger, Circle Host at Santa Barbara Public Library (Open Circle)
- John Leighton, Circle Host at Brooklyn Public Library (Open Circle)
The discussion covered the nuances of groups of different formats – open and closed, small and large, public and private. Here are some great tips from our conversation:
Setting the right tone in the recruitment and promotion process before the group meets
- Set expectation to come in with open mind, willing to talk and share
- Reinforce goals of self and community improvement
Setting the ground rules (skip to min 19)
- Set guidelines and expectations with the members of the group
- Summarize guidelines into several best practices that’s easy to recall (eg. “Act Respectfully” would cover several behaviors)
- Use a visual aid to keep guidelines top of mind for participants (See example below from Santa Barbara Public Library)
Meeting Structure (skip to min 30)
- General structure
- Welcome and introductions
- Group guidelines
- Background of Ben Franklin Circles and Franklin’s Junto (this video provides a good overview)
- Discuss first virtue
- Make a commitment for the month
- Consider having members take turns facilitating and hosting
- Use the host resources available on benfranklincircles.org
- Use a closed Facebook group to engage participants in between meetings
Ice-Breakers (skip to min 39)
- Rose Bud Thorn (Ask each member to share something in his/her life that is “blooming,” something that is “budding” and something that is a current challenge “the thorn”)
- Consider setting an official start time, and allow for casual mingling before/after
- Ask people to share what drove them to participate
Wrapping Up a Meeting (skip to min 46)
- Set commitments, ask members what they want to focus on the following month
- Use phrases such as “we’re reaching our time” to transition to ending the meeting
- Preview the virtue for the next month
Order to the Virtues (skip to min 49)
- Option to study the virtues in the order that Franklin recommended or choose your own order.
- Resource: Book of Virtues
- Guide conversation to the experience of the individuals, don’t let any one theme dominate the group (eg. politics)
- Have faith that when you get people together with enthusiasm, it’s a great thing and that people will talk. People will bring so much and you’ll learn a lot.
- Use silence and allow for pauses (count to 30) before intervening with comments/questions for the group.
We’re looking forward to our next Host Forum in April. Submit ideas for topics to BFC Outreach Consultant, Patty Morrissey at firstname.lastname@example.org.