The art of conversation
It’s your turn to lead the next book club meeting and you’re feeling a little uneasy about your upcoming gig. While there’s no need to stick to a rigid format or get stressed out about your moderating duties, it’s worth thinking about. As moderator your function is to serve as both a host or hostess, and to keep the conversation flowing.
Be organized: As host you are responsible for ensuring all members are aware of meeting location, time and agenda. Try to call or email your book club members at least two weeks in advance of your next meeting. Think of a few discussion points so you can keep the discussion flowing, even if members are feeling tongue-tied. Jot down key names, dates, and places in your novel so you can guide the conversation without having to flip through pages.
Get the ball rolling: As chairperson it’s best to give everyone a refresher and review the synopsis of the novel. Try summing up the novel in a five short talking points. Try and stay away from giving your own opinion right off the bat, though. You’ll have plenty of opportunity to do that later on.
Encourage group discussion: Make sure everyone voices their opinion of the featured book. Push members to talk, talk, talk. At the same time, try to avoid any one member from ruling the conversation by gently steering the discussion from member to member at a natural pace. A skilled discussion leader should know how to both engage shy book club members and reign in the talkative ones.
Keep on track: While natural digressions will occur, try to keep conversation on topic – and not on your weekend plans. After all, isn’t the love of books why you are all there? It’s your job as chairperson to keep the discussion focused (mostly!) on books.
Be constructive: While your may think your opinion makes the most sense (naturally!) it’s important you don’t get caught up trying to persuade the gang to agree with you. If everyone agreed it wouldn’t be much of a discussion now would there? Encourage members to respectfully listen to the opinions of others and get the conversation flowing constructively from there.
Listen: Try to listen closely to the conversation. Chances are you will be able to pick up on new ideas that pop up in the discussion and discover new topics to keep the conversation going.
The good ol’ hat trick: If the thought of moderating is still keeping you up at night then get members to write down one question for group discussion when they arrive. Toss all questions in a hat and pick each question to evaluate throughout the night. Try and encourage member to avoiding posing any questions that have simple yes/no answers.
Have fun: Remember the reason why you joined a book club in the first place. Reading is supposed to be fun. Take a deep breath and relax. Chances are you’ll enjoy yourself along the way.