5 Steps to a Great Conversation
Office Hours are small group conversations that allow you to share your advice, ask questions and brainstorm new ideas or big challenges. Here are five tips to host a great Office Hour.
1. Start a conversation, not a presentation
The Cardinal Rule: stay casual, informal and fun
Sit around the table with the rest of the group to set a conversational tone with everyone else. Don’t sit alone at the front. Don’t use slides.
2. Make introductions
Introduce the group
Create rapport in the room by asking everyone to share their name, job title and a fun fact about themselves. But make sure you go first!
Make it easy for the group to relate to you and each other. Sharing how other people have helped you in your career is a great way to do this.
Suggestion: Tell the group about the most motivating teacher, coach, or manager you ever had.
How did it feel to work with them? How did they help you along the way? How did you come to realize what they taught you was important? What motivates you to pass this knowledge on?
3. Clarify the conversation
Clarify the ‘what’
Help the group understand how to contribute to the conversation. Tell them what you want to learn from them.
I’m excited to be here because I want to learn from each of you about your opinion or experiences with [topic or question].
Clarify the ‘why’
Invite the group to think about why the topic or question matters for everyone present.
"I think many of us have faced moments when..." or "I don't know if you've ever found yourself at a crossroads like this..."
4. Help others talk
Engage each person
Ask everyone to share why they decided to show up. Jot down their questions.
“What are you most interested in talking about? What are your questions?”
Help the group talk more
Don’t rush to answer their questions. Instead, ask follow-up questions so the group has more context. “That makes sense. Tell us more about that!”
Then, invite the group to answer questions for each other. “Great question! I have my own opinion, but first, what does the group think?”
If you notice one participant is not engaging, try to ask them for their input on a topic or direct a question to help them open up. If they don’t engage with the prompt don’t worry - many people prefer to learn by listening instead of engaging.
5. Close strong
Ask everyone in the group to give you one takeaway or interesting insight they’ll take back to their day-to-day work.
Share one big thing you learned today and how it will impact how you lead from now on.
Scale the conversation
Take a group photo. A selfie is great.
Follow up via email or intranet to share the photo and thank everyone for taking part. Even better, post it on LinkedIn and tag everyone who attended to keep the conversation going on social.