Top tips for new conveners

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These are all optional and the following have been found to work well in different cities across the world. If you’re an experienced facilitator some may be obvious. Being a convener is some work at first, but needn’t be excessive once you get a couple of committed friends involved. Generally each subsequent circle is less work as members take responsibility.

The fundamental idea for conveners is that your decisions are guided by the core purpose of The Circle (learning and connection), the guiding principles (on this site) and your convener peers’ advice; and then specifics are voted on in the group as needed. There are no hard rules, only traditions, culture and community; and here are some top tips:

    • Keep in touch with other conveners. Reach out to a couple of experienced people and have a chat.
    • Fill service roles well BEFORE your circle so people come knowing if they have a “job” and how to do it.
    • Separate out talking about circles from the circles themselves. You may allocate time before or after for the later, and those that are there get a say. Give suggested times to the time keeper so they know how long people have and can keep people to this. Show them the tips below.
    • See the “how to open a circle” and “how to close a circle” tips below. These may be worth printing.
    • Build a culture of reliability and  contribution rather than of being “flaky”, or of people being passive consumers. This will do most of the work for you once established as the norm. Reliability, boundaries and contribution can be worth stating upfront as key aspects of what makes a circle work, and are certainly worth modelling as it’s not habitual for many. People will start to develop a sense of shared responsibility for the circle over time if encouraged to do so. Encouraging commitment is a key issue as donation events like Circles can be easy to cancel.
    • Social media is useful but be careful with things such as people saying “going” on an event page but not being really committed, people not seeing announcements in groups, people not having Facebook etc. One-to-one messages and personal promises to attend work well.
    • The three core practices of a circle are:

      1. some kind of meditation.

      2. some kind of mindful movement, and

      3. some kind sharing; but groups vary with the nature of these widely. The order they are in also varies.Find what works for you and keep consistent leaders of these parts if possible. Keep it simple, non-esoteric and non-athletic; so that the circle is accessible. Circles over an hour usually take a break after these, and then have a guest teacher before a wrap up.
    • At first circle members will be mostly people you know (confirm people attending with a 1-1 message) but over time try and open the circle up to other networks and types of people.
    • This applies to guest teachers too, start with people you trust then open it up. Brief guests as to what to do and expect (E.g. that their time may be reduced, who the participants are, that that they can advertise at the end but to offer value, that people have an opt out, etc).
    • Tea and coffee is essential 🙂 Food helps a lot too to bond people and get people involved.
    • The time before, after and in a break is where a lot of the connection happens so allow space for this. “The breaks are the best bit” is often the joke.
    • Suggesting people share business offers and/or requests in a round close to the end of a circle can be very useful for people and encourages professionals to come even is it isn’t an official “professional” circle. Ask the timekeeper to give people 30 seconds to make only ONE offer (people will tend to confuse others by stating many jobs and workshops), or one concrete request (E.g. “I need an accountant”) which people can help them with afterwards if they can by raising hands (not at the time - keep it moving).
    • You will likely see a medium to long term business benefit for you if a professional in the field, but we’d suggest not making this your focus at first. Lead with generosity and empower people to step-up and get involved. This being said, being the hub of embodiment network is a great position to be in if your business relates to it and being a convener can be really rewarding.
    • Listen to the needs and opinions of your group and organise votes where needed (in person) but don’t be afraid to make a decision to overcome inaction. Accept that you won’t be able to find solutions perfect for everyone (E.g. with the day and time)
    • Be aware that being a convener is not not permanent position and that eventually it’s good to hand this over (after a year or two perhaps) to give someone else a chance.
    • Make your Circle enjoyable to you and everyone in any ethical way that you like :-)Be creative and have fun.
  • How to open a Circle 

    It’s normal for a convener to open up a circle and then handover to a timekeeper (sometimes called a facilitator/ secretary). We really advise not doing both roles if at all possible. The time keeper runs the circle during it and should be quite “strict”, and you primarily organise circles beforehand (based on people’s requests, votes etc). 

    • State the purpose of The Circle right up front (“embodied learning and connection”) as everything relates back to this - E.g. any tricky decisions. Also some of the principles/ values like the co-creative vibe, and encouraging contribution; but no need to go through a long list
    • A general warm welcome plus practicalities (times, roles, phones, toilets, etc) is typical. Helping people feel at ease is your main role at the start 
    • State the two basic ethical principles: Choice (people don’t have to do anything at a circle) and confidentiality
    • If you feel inspired to connect your Circle to a vision of a more embodied world feel free 
    • You can do an instant mood or energy check by asking people to raise hands, make a noise, give thumbs up/down etc
    • Some conveners do a very short group somatic coordination practice like taking three breaths together, or a brief centring to start 
    • State the order of what’s coming up so all contributors are clear (this also helps people feel at ease) or ask the time keeper to do this 
    • Acknowledge new people and guests and state they’ll be time to share later as they may be keen to say hello 
    • Hand over to the time keeper, and let them run the show 🙂 
  • This can all be done in 5min with practice!

    Often the next thing is a quick names round. Sometimes with location and occupation (but careful to limit this or this will become time consuming, and actual sharing is usually best done after getting more present). Other groups go straight into mediation or movement and cover names when sharing 

  • How to close a circle

    This can be done by the time keeper but is usually nice for the convener to, to “book end” the circle. Closure - wrapping things up practically and emotionally - is really important so allow 10-15min for this and don’t allow a guest teacher to go overtime.

  • Most conveners include:

    • Thanks! (Especially for those who lead/ hosted/ visited)
    • Practical information on the next one or information on how this will be discussed
    • Request to tell friends and colleagues about The Circle
    • Possible paired “one thing you’re taking away”, or “one key insight from today”
    • One word/ one minute check-out round
    • Applause or gesture for a clear “ritualised” close