You know how you always read about that perfect dinner party—the one where you have your dream team sitting around the same table? Usually Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Jesus, and Ghandi are on the short list of attendees.
Well, two weeks ago, I attended the most amazing dinner. This was due in large part to the attendees, of course. But what was unique was the format. It was called a Jeffersonian dinner, and the goal of these is to create a loosely structured exchange of ideas around a central theme. I came away convinced that this is the best way to enjoy a dinner and take full advantage of the backgrounds and wisdom of the attendees. So if you have the desire to create a special evening for you and people you want to get to know, here’s how to do it.
Second, come up with around 10 people you think would be interesting to have at your dinner table. They should be people with different backgrounds and interests who are interesting to you but whom you know little about. I casually knew two of the 12 people at our dinner but had never broken bread with them nor had a particularly deep discussion. So I was a bit apprehensive about what might occur. You may have experienced this before: What do you talk about with folks who are new to your universe?
The format (step three) solves that dilemma because attendees receive a topic in advance, along with a rule stating that they may talk only to the group, not just the person sitting next to them.
That rule is the beauty of the format, as you have end up having an engaging discussion while getting to know everyone at the table. Our topic: Who was the most effective leader you have encountered and why? I am incredibly passionate about both this topic and the leader who influenced me, so I was thrilled to share my story with the group.
Finally, pick a spot where you can sit around a table in a setting that allows you both to hear and be heard by everyone else at the table. We had a private room at a wonderful local restaurant, but having this at someone’s home would be fabulous, too.
Try it and be amazed!