I am always looking for ways to experiment with different formats of my Café.
Some of you may be familiar with the Café Debate format that I trialed recently at the KM Legal Conference in London. It was a big success.
And then there was the series of three Cafés I ran at St Ethelburga's in the City late last year entitled Do your little bit of good which worked well but not quite as well I had hoped.
You also may be aware of the Randomised Coffee Trials I am running in London to bring people together random to have coffee with each other once a month.
There is also my Espresso Café - a Café that can be run in 30 minutes which I had hoped to run at KM UK but because of illness had to drop out at the last minute. Ian Rodwell of Linklaters ran a slightly modified version that I am told went well.
But for a long time now I've had the idea of what I call a Serendipity Café in my head.
Unlike my regular Cafés, in a Serendipity Café there is not be a speaker and a single conversational theme. I am looking to create an environment where people can have a multitude of short conversations with lots of different people about all sorts of random things and see what emerges.
I haven't quite figured out the precise format yet, but my current thinking is this:
Each participant brings along one object with them. The object could be a book it could be a piece of jewellery, a toy, a magazine article, an ornament, a photograph or a clipping from a newspaper. Anything that appeals to them but ideally something personal that has a story attached to it in some way. Something to talk about. Something that the individual feels passionate about.
After an initially extended round of speed conversations the participants each take a few seconds to say a few words and thus share their object with the room. Maybe I should call it a "show and tell" café. LOL People then continue the networking style conversations in twos or threes where they talk about the objects they have bought along to the event.
Finally, as with my regular Cafés, everyone comes together at the end to share the insights they have gleaned from the conversations and any serendipitous events that have resulted in their going away with something unexpected from the Café.
That's the idea! All a bit of an experiment. I am running one in London on the 5th July.
I'll let you know how it goes :-)