This is part 4 of a blog series called Leading a Small Group.
Don’t you dare wing it.
Winging it is when you haven’t read your curriculum or you do 5 minutes before people show up, show up to the meeting without an agenda, or think through the questions that will be coming.
The group dynamic has a tendency to not go as planned. I don’t know how many times I have been preparing to lead a group of adults or students and in my mind the group is laid out perfectly and a couple questions we have lost all semblance of coherency. Things are off the rails and people are talking about politics and their dogs.
While you can never prepare for how people will answer questions and where the conversation will lead, you can prepare some plan B’s. Some questions will flop and you will need to restate the question, put some of your veterans on the spot, and answering the question yourself is always a good option. Never ask a question, wait 5 seconds, and fill the silence with your next question (more on this later in the series).
In addition to the curriculum or meeting agenda don’t underestimate the importance of the setting.
If I am sitting on a hard chair I am 85% less likely to participate in the conversation. Combine this with no snack choice and I might just leave.
You need to arrange your living room or wherever you are meeting comfortably. Know how many you have coming (not how many signed up for the group) and set out that many chairs plus one or two extras. Something about having a bunch of empty chairs that will suck all the energy out of the room. If your home is like ours and your living room is oddly shaped make sure that group members can see each other and not just you, little things like this help the group connect with one another and not just you.
As for snacks, have them. Nothing with a dipping sauce, any kind of pasta, or soups you don’t want people worried about balancing their plates and not getting things on your furniture. Stick to basic finger foods and desserts. If possible cater to people with specific dietary needs, whatever you can do to show people you care.
Leading a small group is hard, so do what you can before they even get there to set yourself up for success.