Hosting a Salon: Run of Show

Remember that…

The job of a host is to initiate the discussion. This means that you’re the person who curates the energy of the salon — you are responsible for stimulating conversation, inviting attendees to reflect, and be responsive to others’ input.

You don’t have to be extroverted to be a good host! Your main role is to be enthusiastic and inviting. A smile and a thoughtful nod can go a long way toward making your attendees comfortable.

Usually, a salon is structured with:

Introductions: The host invites attendees to introduce themselves, say where they’re calling in from, what drew them to the topic and what they hope to learn/talk about.

Beginning with a small presentation/activity of some sort to kick off the vibe: Let us emphasize this is low-stress! In many cases, a regular salon is quite casual and we don’t require people to prepare extensively; basic familiarity with the topic and material is enough to have a great conversation. Reading excerpts from your reading list, talking briefly about your own insights and reflections, any of this suffices!

If you want to put together a PowerPoint with some key points you want to go over/teach your attendees, that’s great! But if you don’t want to, remember your main job is to demonstrate enthusiasm to keep the conversation going.

Asking good questions: Use conversation starters from your listing to start. Interintellect salon attendees are usually also enthusiastic and eager to contribute, so you don’t have to worry about there being awkward silences; people are there to co-create the discussion. It is your job as the host to keep the momentum going, but it’s not just on you!

Going along with the rhythm: You don’t have to follow a script to have a good salon. If you want to skip a question because you came up with another one, feel free to do that!

Take notes (if it suits you): Many hosts like to keep an ongoing list of interesting insights that helps them improvise follow up questions. This can make the conversation dynamic (as we mentioned with our “going along with the rhythm” bullet point). And the notes can also help with future salons, blog posts, Tweet threads, and more!

Experimenting: We have a workshop salon format for a reason, but you can also turn any salon into any format you want. If you want help, don’t hesitate to email the Interintellect editorial team, too.

Click on the image below to watch the video from our recent host training!

Our salon hosting tips:

  • Prepare in advance with touch points and discussion questions/prompts to structure the discussion!
  • Remember you’re allowed to be imperfect — see the second of the Four Rules of Gathering for more!
  • Ask all participants to unmute if they want to speak after asking a question; if someone is speaking, they can use the “raise hand” function to request to speak next
  • You can private message quiet participants via private Zoom messages to encourage them to speak!
  • You can use the chat to respond to people’s prompts, but try not to have entire side conversations
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment and embrace the limitations!

Hosted recently? Email the ii editorial team about your experience for feedback!