Conversare – of potential value when integral to diverse meetings which include a meal

September 30, 2017 |  by  |  Uncategorized

Here are ideas you may find interesting and of potential value to your organisation or group.

They are to do with a way of enabling everyone present to have face to face communication over a meal. In which the focus is on learning about each other. Everybody participates fully.

The example here is to do with holding evening meetings.  The ideas are applicable to meetings held at other times too.


Being held on a weekday evening have an early start at 6pm and finish by 8pm.

There are two main possibilities for the conduct of an event about a particular topic.

      Points to ponder follow an outline of these formats.

One is the more usual:         

5.45pm – Arrive

6pm – Opening by convenor of the event

– Welcome to everyone

– Statement of purpose of the organisation staging the event
– Why this event?

6.15  Light dinner main course (prepared earlier) served

6.30. Speakers on the topic of the event

7.00pm – Dessert served followed by Q and A of the speakers,  and debate conducted by participants

7.45pm / 8.00pm – Closing speech

8.00pm – Pack up

The other is to begin by having a host facilitator set the scene for conversations among participants about each other, rather than on the topic for the event. The conversations and debate about the topic come later.  

This means having a relatively brief Conversare over a meal.

5.45 Arrive

6pm Brief welcome by the convenor of the event, overview of the proceedings and hand over to the host for the conversational component.

6.10pm Overview by the host on the Conversare part of the evening

. Everybody present chooses their food from a mini buffet and then shares the meal time in conversation with someone they have not met before. Essentially to explore questions such as ‘What has attracted you to be here’?, ‘What interests you’? and ‘Who are you’?

6.45 Conclude Conversare

Followed by a short break and then convene as the large group – with rearrangement of seating – to hear the speakers on the topic for the event.

6.50 Speakers on the topic for the event

Then perhaps facilitated:  Q and A between speakers and audience on the topic. And/or think tank and discussion.

7.45 Convener of the event asks the audience about their reflections on the experience of the  content and conduct of the event. And gives a closing ‘wrap’.

8pm Close

               Points to ponder  

What are the relative benefits of these two formats?

The first is the usual way of conducting a meeting.

The second is not familiar to most, which is not surprising as it has not ever likely to have been used before!

My outlining it here arises from my being invited to host a Conversare style component into a professional meeting. Likely without the organiser of the meeting being aware of the implications of doing this!  

Which has led me think through what holding the meeting along the lines of the second listed format would look like.

What could be the value to you of this way of engaging differently? Bearing in mind that everybody present:

.  is a full participant, everyone does this.

. has an opportunity to learn how someone else ‘sees things’.

. may become more aware of what ‘to converse’ actually is. Which is mainly asking questions which express interest in ‘the other’ and careful listening. You may know of this as ‘soft skills’.

. may be surprised by what they learn about themselves through doing this!

To add:

More on the essence of Conversare events and the potential significance of this style of interaction can be seen here.

And on potential value for diverse organisations and venues here.

More generally you may also be interested to see this article on ‘The slow death of face to face communication’.

Plus, as a bonus <smile> these great reads:

On encounters with strangers by Michael Palin and The Sea of Strangers by Seth Godin and On there being no ‘them and us’ by Astronaut Chris Hadfield

Looking forward



Alan Stewart, PhD
Social Artist
Facilitator of conversations that matter and participatory fun

Senior Fulbright Scholar

Blog: Conversare
Multimind Solutions

Member: National Trouble Makers Union

Residence: Adelaide, South Australia, since 1975
With time away in Hong Kong (2005-2011)  


“Whenever we treat each other good things happen.”

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