Hosting Council

Best practice on how to host Council:

  • A topic or question is developed and to be discussed over three months.
  • Time and date: Decide on the date of the event. Councils are hosted from 07.30 – 08.30am. Every third month a dinner is hosted from 7pm until 11pm at somebody’s home around a round table.
  • Who: Council has 12 members with usually 8 people attending.
      1. People need to complement eachother: backgrounds, professions, ages.
      2. Invite people that don’t know eachother for the first Council to ensure that trust is built up between the different people rather than groups forming based on former friendships.
      3. Intergenerational: people need to come from across generations.
      4. Diversity: Try to encourage gender equality and diversity among the people invited.
  • Invitation: The invitation spells out the theme for the event, pre-read and RSVP. These are usually sent per email.
  • Calls: Calls are made to those who are attending Council for the first time to explain the principles behind Council.
  • Pre read: A selection of two to three articles are chosen as a pre-read for Council and circulated a week in advance of Council. 
  • 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 Council briefly explaining what Council is (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. Host introduces a question i.e. what is scaring you right now. Go around the table shortly introducing your name, what you care about (not your profession) and answer the question.
      8. Host starts off the conversation based on the pre-read and opens up for conversation.
      9. 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.
      10. Council ends on time.
      11. 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. This can be shared further with people outside of Council to continue and spread the conversation. 

For more information about how to host Council, please contact Ingrid Helsingen Warner