Host Toolkit

We're so glad you want to host a conversation!
What will your conversation look like?

Helpful Tips
for Online Conversations

These helpful tips will help you navigate time management, getting participants back on track during a conversation, and more.

Follow the Conversation Guide!
Everything you need to host is in your conversation guide. Remember this is a very distinct type of conversation you are hosting and old habits die hard. At least one participant will get the urge to revert into a casual conversation. Your guide will help you set expectations and serves as a touch stone for everyone in the group. Get familiar with all the components of the guide before your conversation.

Dig into the Conversation Agreements
The more familiar you are with these, the easier it will be for you to ensure they are being honored and understand why they are so crucial to the success of your conversation. Read this link, Unpacking the Conversation Agreements, and then try answering the following questions (feel free to write your answers down if that’s helpful):

  • When have I really been curious? How can I bring curiosity to this conversation and encourage it in others?

  • What does that respect look and feel like? What triggers my tendency to judge?

  • What does common ground look like? How can I look for it? How can I value differences?

  • How do I bring my authentic self? How can I balance authenticity with over-sharing?

  • How can I make sure everyone’s voices are heard? How can I model this in the conversation? (A good tip is to take time to think of your own answers to the Round 2 questions so you are prepared)

  • What is my personal responsibility as the host in this conversation? What do I want other participants to understand about their responsibilities?

Co-hosting Tips
If you’ve decided you are going to share hosting responsibilities, there are some easy ways to divvy up who leads which part of the conversation, who keeps track of time, etc. You will also want to make sure you are both on the same page about how you will intervene when participants forget about the Conversation Agreements. 

  • Strategies for a Smooth Conversation
    Your conversation may hit some turbulence and you will have over-talkers, cross-talkers, and those who want to take participants on a meandering tour of whatever comes to mind. Don’t panic! Living Room Conversations is a practice that you and those you invite into these conversations will grow into.

  • Time Management
    Although you may want your conversation to go on for hours, it’s important to stay within the time frame you shared with your conversation guests. The conversation guide has timing suggestions for each section. If you are nervous about hosting and watching a clock you can share the workload by asking someone to help you with time management (if you have a co-host this will be easy). You could also search your board game stash for a two minute hourglass timer or use the timer on your phone. Be clear about the timing expectations at the beginning of your conversation and how you will intervene (i.e. time out hand signal) if someone goes over time. Hold yourself to the same standards as everyone else!

  • Zoom Tips (coming soon)

  • Gathering Feedback
    Why do we ask for feedback? Each conversation guide has a link and a QR code that asks participants to give us feedback on their experience. Since we are a non-profit, this information helps us communicate to potential donors and grants what we offer to communities. We also welcome feedback around the topic questions, the format, and hosting resources. We are always looking to improve our organization and rely on you to help! Please ask your participants to fill our our feedback form.

We would also love to hear about your conversation. Since our guides are free and open source, we don’t always get a clear picture of who is using them and where. When you Tell Us About Your Conversation we have the opportunity to thank you, add your conversation to the map, and provide support if needed. 

Participate in or watch a Living Room Conversation
Before you take on hosting your own conversation, you may want to be a participant first. We offer hosted online conversations you can join for free on our Getting Started page. We also have video recorded conversations that can give you a feel for what a Living Room Conversation is like. Watch one below, or check out more at our videos and podcasts page.

Questions to Consider

  • What are you most hopeful for in your conversation?
  • What makes you the most nervous? Which of these tips address that?