The Art of Gathering – Priya Parker

Art of Gathering (Jan 2020) This book is a must read. For everyone. From dinner parties and staff meetings to holiday gatherings and funerals, we all spend so much time at “gatherings” that are organized by someone.

Priya Parker points out that surprisingly little thought is given to the structure of gatherings. Because of that, many of us spend inordinate amounts of time in boring time wasters that are often tedious and quite forgettable.

This book changes how to think about the purpose of gatherings – absolutely all gatherings. With each chapter I had “aha moments” that made we wonder why I had not thought about this before.

I will also say that this book should be added to every reading list for leadership development programs, courses and seminars. Same for corporate retreats and strategy sessions. Constructing a meaningful gathering with purpose *is* a core leadership skill. Parker’s examples of the gatherings she has facilitated in her career are fascinating. It also makes the book more of a “show” than a “tell.” Once she tells the story of a particular gathering, she breaks down how and why it worked so well.

I think we all need to incorporate the format of 15 Toasts regularly into our dinner gatherings. Of all the concepts she introduced, I really loved this one. While “communication” takes place at gatherings, it does not always lead to meaningful connection among people. And why would you pursue the first if not for the purpose of the latter? I highly recommend this book. It will change the way you think about how we spend our time with one another and how with the smallest amount of effort it could be so much more meaningful.