How to host Circles

Best practice on how to host Circles:

  • A guest in town or an expert is invited to participate. The following text can be used in the invitation.
  • Time and date: Decide on the date of the event. Circles are hosted from 07.30 – 08.30am.
  • Who: Eight people are invited to attend. Invite people based on their passion, rather than their position.
      1. People need to complement eachother: backgrounds, professions, ages.
      2. Inviting people who do not know each other leads to great conversations. Intergenerational: people need to come from across generations.
      3. Diversity: Try to encourage gender equality and diversity among the people invited.
  • Invitation: The invitation spells out the theme for the event, RSVP, their biography and picture. These are usually sent per email.
  • Calls: Calls are made to those who are attending Circles for the first time to explain the principles behind Circles.
  • Pre read: A selection of two to three articles are chosen as a pre-read for Circle and circulated a week in advance. Biographies are compiled with pictures, names and a short three to four sentence paragraph. This allows everybody to prepare and for the conversation to be as effective as possible.
  • On the day:
      1. Organize coffee, tea and small snacks for breakfast.
      2. Guests arrive 07.20-07.25 for a 07.30am sharp start.
      3. Host welcomes everybody personally.
      4. The conversation is hosted around a round or square table for the best conversation.
      5. Speaker is seated in the middle rather than at the end of the table.
      6. Host welcomes everybody to Circle briefly explaining what Circles are (conversations between people who love to ask questions, are endlessly curious and care about people and causes.) Highlight that phones are put away, there is no social media and that the conversation is under Chatham House Rule (ideas can be referred to, but not the people who said it).
      7. Everybody introduces themselves by name and what they are passionate about ending with the special guest or expert.
      8. The expert complements the reading with a personal story or question that they are focused on and speaks on the topic for around five minutes.
      9. Host kicks-off the conversation with a question based on the pre-read and personal story and opens up for conversation.
      10. The host does not moderate the conversation or the questions as it should flow like a natural conversation. However, the host should ensure that everybody has had the opportunity to speak.
      11. Five minutes before 08.30am the host sends a blank card around where all the participants can write a personal thank you note to the speaker. The card is circulated from the right of the speaker, around to the whole group and ends with the guest getting the card. The host will also have a small token of a gift of appreciation.
      12. Circles end on time.
      13. Pictures can be taken with the speaker after the event if appropriate.
      14. An email is sent from the host to all participants (with them all on copy) with further background reading / articles / books recommended during the conversation as well as questions, rather than the answers discussed. The updated biographies are also enclosed together with the participants’ contact details so that they can stay in touch in the future.

For more information about how to host Circles, please contact Ingrid Helsingen Warner ingrid.h.warner@gmail.com