Rhianna may advocate for shining bright like a diamond, but Priya Parker is coming in hot with the concept of lighthouses in your team.
Priya is one of my favorite authors and speakers when it comes to professional development resources. Her insight and research are fascinating, and I love lifting up her voice and viewpoint in my work!
Below is an excerpt from one of her newsletters where she writes about the concept of tapping people within your team or organization to be a “lighthouse - a bright force helping guide your event to success." She speaks mainly in terms of literal events (a wedding, a retreat, a dinner party), but the concept is absolutely applicable to professional, educational, and developmental settings!
It just takes a bit of forethought.
Here’s the gist:
Give a few key team members/coworkers/leaders/attendees/guests (we will just call them “attendees” moving forward for simplicity) a role.
What kind of roles?
Ask someone to prepare a question before the lesson to get the discussion started. Even provide them with the question!
Have someone in charge of arranging the coats/purses/bags to keep the room tidy.
Appoint someone to ensure the food table is arranged and well kept.
Have someone else read the introduction of the speaker.
Have your spreadsheet guru help with double-checking the scoring from the game you are leading.
Ask an experienced leader for historical context on the program so you can better understand previous guests’ experiences, and their previous experience feels validated.
Have the music aficionado use their phone to play one of their carefully curated playlists as guests arrive.
Appoint someone to monitor the chat in the virtual event so no question gets overlooked.
Ask the social media maven to take some pictures and videos so people have content to share.
Appoint a Nametag Captain, a Points Princess, a Timekeeper...the options are endless!!!!
Getting attendees invested in the program before it even starts promotes buy-in to the program and its message.
It gives ownership to attendees which promotes a sense of inclusion and belonging.
I’m not just sitting here, listening, or not listening…
And now let me pull back the curtain on my profession a bit…
This is the same thought process behind educators/speakers/coaches having interactive parts of their program.
We know the more attendees are *meaningfully involved in something, the more affinity they have for the event or organization or leader or topic.
And the more likely they are to actually retain and use the information shared.
*Note the “meaningfully involved” language there.
Nobody likes busy work.
But attendees definitely recognize the value of a greeter welcoming them at the door, or a tidy thoughtfully arranged food table!
And, most of the time, people are happy to be helpful and feel needed.
As long as you’re not dumping major responsibilities of the program on them, they are usually keen to help you and your program succeed!
Check out Priya’s amazing example and explanation below!
"Find Your Lighthouses"
Guests can be hosts, too
No matter the event, it can be daunting to host. It’s easy to slip into this dynamic of performing for our friends or colleagues, entertaining them, pleasing them. Whether you’re a senior manager designing an offsite, a couple planning a wedding, or an alumnus throwing a party, there’s a simple way to shift the dynamic and lessen the burden of hosting: share it. People have always found collective ways to share the financial and logistical burden of hosting. (The potluck is an entire gathering structure invented to do just that.) Beyond asking people to bring a bottle of wine or an extra tomato, you can turn some of your guests into spiritual sub-hosts by giving them a small role.
Ask (the right) guests to play a role.
I was once coaching an organization on a complicated internal retreat they were hosting. Three partners from a group of 150 had been tapped to organize a two-day bonding event for their peers. As the retreat approached, I asked the hosts what they were most concerned about. One of them said: “I’m not worried about the newest and youngest colleagues enjoying it, they’re just happy to be here. I’m worried about the partners who could’ve planned this instead of us, and whether or not they’re going to be game.” The host had realized something important: there was a subgroup of 20 highly-talented guests who needed something to do (and could also be the easiest critics). His worry had merit. I suggested they host a pre-call with those more seasoned partners. On it, we shared the plan of the two days and asked if they would play a “special connective-tissue role” in the gathering, shine light on some of the newer folks, and keep an eye out for folks who might feel intimidated or less comfortable. We asked them to be our Lighthouses. Not only did the partners agree, they became the heart and soul of the retreat. All of a sudden, 23 people were committed to its success, not just three.
I fully support this idea and have seen immense success in teams and events where this tactic is utilized.
Have I used this in my virtual programs?
Have I used this in my Junior League of Lafayette committees?
Have I used this in my sorority?
Have I used this as I competed in a national pageant?
Did it create more buy-in, more investment, and more fun every time?
I dare you :)