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The Art of Community - for speakers

BITE-SIZED: None of us have time to read all the books we want to. I read The Art of Community by Cha
Standing oration
The Art of Community - for speakers
By Kristian from Speakers Loft • Issue #11 • View online
BITE-SIZED: None of us have time to read all the books we want to. I read The Art of Community by Charles Vogl. These are the key takeaways for speakers who wish to build a community.

Some people follow a religion, and some people do not. Whatever side of the room you belong to, there is no denying that many religions have had a fantastic ability to rally people around an idea.
things like that doesn’t just happen. There are some mechanics at play, and speakers can use them too, to create a following.
If, as speakers, we can create one-hundredth of their impact around our ideas, then surely we can change the world for the better. So I read The Art of Community, and while you should still read all of it, here is a bite-sized run through just for you.
Also, just to let you know: I have no affiliation with Charles Vogl or his publishers and get no money from writing this either way. I want to be clear on this because motivation is essential. 
Which incidentally bring us to one of the essential insights in the book
Destroying money is illegal. The image is metaphorical. Photo by JP Valery.
Destroying money is illegal. The image is metaphorical. Photo by JP Valery.
Any attempt at rallying people around your ideas will fail if community members get the idea, that you’re in it for the money. For the same reason, many companies have tried building communities and failed. For a company to build a community, it usually needs to be tied to a business goal. A business goal is often money. And bye-bye goes the neighborhood.
Be clear about the services you sell but spend your time practicing what you preach.
Some people are inside, and some people are outside the community. This delineation must be clear, and people need to know if they are in or out. And you need to care for all, regardless of whether they are in your community or not.
You also need gatekeepers (Vogl refers to them as ‘The Diaconate’) to enforce boundaries and help members cross over from one side to the other. Not everyone who gets into your community belongs in your community, and any member should adhere to the central principles of the community. If they do not, then maybe this specific community is not for them. Not everyone belongs.
A fundamental principle could be something like: while we enjoy researching and learning about public speaking, some speakers are unaware of our speaker reports. If we find or learn something they can use, we still share the inside knowledge (like in a fancy-pants journal), because this is about making everyone better and because our concern goes beyond just the people that pay us.
People can join if they want more.
Along the same lines: make sure to articulate values in words and actions. Mostly in action.
Bring them inside your community, because it can be cold outside.  Photo by Matthew Henry.
Bring them inside your community, because it can be cold outside. Photo by Matthew Henry.
If you manage to rally people around your idea, that idea may change due to those people. You need to roll with it. If I create a journal to talk about public speaking, but all the readers write to me saying that they’d much rather read about growing cucumbers, well, then cucumbers it is.
(But really they’re mostly water and not that interesting.)
Community differs from teaching. If you want people to listen to you, you want to teach. If you want people to become better together, then you want a community. The latter has a price-tag. You pay with giving up control.
We’re doing this as a pack, and no-one gets to hog the steering wheel. I know nothing of cucumbers though, so you don’t want to go down that road. Instead, you should let me know if you have stories to share in a way that honor the above principles.
My email is
Mostly water. Photo by Charles.
Mostly water. Photo by Charles.
Rituals are important because they create meaning. A ritual is anything that would make you feel less important if it was not done. One example could be calling (or seeing if you live close by) family members on their birthday.
Anything can be a ritual, and you can get creative with the rituals that you want your community to take. But remember the community is a living thing: rituals are likely to arise without you doing anything. Make sure to recognize and promote spontaneously emerging rituals. It is a lot easier than creating them.
What matters is not if your sanctuary is online or offline. What matters is that community members return to this place. Whatever goes on in the sanctuary may seem weird to outsiders. So will the dinner time rituals in many families when they’re alone - we don’t see them because when we visit we are outsiders.
Most speakers I’ve met have expressed one way or the other, that other people do not understand what it means to be a speaker. But we know. And to us researching for months, traveling far and wide and doing a little dance to fight stage fright is not weird. It’s work, and it is nice to be with others who ‘get it.’
A sanctuary could be a Facebook group where people share their wins, or it could be a flat in Paris, that all community members can freely use when they’re in Paris to speak.
It can be a classroom, a church, a grassy meadow, or a weekly journal. The form doesn’t matter. It only matters that people come together to enact their rituals.
Like I said in the beginning, the book contains much, much more. If this line of thought aligns with your mission as a speaker, then I wholeheartedly recommend reading the whole book.
That’s all for now. I wish you tons of success in your business pursuits and remember that you have tons of speaker colleagues. Call one of them and ask them how they’re doing. They’ll be happier for it. So will you.
See you with a new edition in a week. Thank you for reading.

P.S. I have a favor to ask. The idea of reading books with the eyes of a speaker and sharing the speaker’s take away is new. If you would like to see more, hit the thumbs up.
If this is not your thing, hit the thumbs down.
If you’re still stuck on the cucumber-thing, let me know in the LinkedIn-group.

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Kristian from Speakers Loft

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