Every Party needs a Conversationalist

Posted by PartyWeDo on Tuesday, February 2, 2010

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I have been a student of party engagement and event interaction for many years, even before we began our online party application.big_mouth_smile1218755919

Sarah is a trained recreational specialist and has been involved in party leadership for most of her adult life, so I have had many opportunities to be a “fly on the wall” and observe how people enjoy a social event.

It is fascinating to watch the personalities that blend together during each phase of the party experience. From the first greeting, through many social interactions, and up until the departure, the individual personalities display a variety of tendencies.

I have often thought that there is a hierarchy of individual party personalities; from the quiet spectator known as the “wall-flower”, to the extremely engaged “party-animal”.

These levels seem to be based upon some sort of imaginary social ladder. The rungs of this ladder represent the comfort level that people feel in putting themselves on display for others to witness. On the lower steps stand those who are guarded or very reserved, and at the top are those who have no fear of being noticed and even welcome attention.

But there is one personality that seems to always be critical to the success of any party experience…

Social Butterflies

These people build the bridges between most of the personalities in the room and keep the conversation flowing.

Valeria Maltoni, a professional conversationalist and author of the Conversation Agent introduced me to a social ladder concept that really fits these party personalities very closely.

Her discussion suggests that the conversation is central to good social networking on the internet and that “Conversationalist” are the connectors in these social spaces.

My party observations would suggest that without one or more conversationalist on the guest list, the party could be a dud.. Therefore, an understanding of the social party ladder, and a personality assessment is critical for party hosts, as they work on their invitation list.

The social scientists have just recently added the “conversationalist” rung to the accepted social ladder discussion. Jason Falls suggests that “This development is interesting because for years social media evangelists have been preaching that, “it’s all about the conversation.”

Before this addition to the social ladder, there were only 6 rungs; Inactives, Spectators, Joiners, Collectors, Critics and Creators. Now, the Conversationalist is thought to make up about a third of all social media interactions.

How does a social media ladder relate to my party observations and to the success of a party?

Well, I believe social media activities on the internet closely parallel the mechanics of a party, and that the social ladder measurements fit pretty well. (I would probably throw out the Collectors rung for this discussion on parties, but the others are a really good fit).

We could say that the Inactives are the least desirable party guests, due to the effort that it will take to get them to attend and to join in any of the activities planned for the event. I am not suggesting that you leave anyone out, but realize that an inactive will be less engaged in any of your planned activities. Luckily, there are just a few of these personality types to worry about.

The next rung on the ladder are the Spectators…This is a big group!  The responsibility of the host is to move the spectators out of their comfort zone and into the Joiner category.  Left on their own they will just watch the event unfold, so pushing the right buttons of Spectators will move the fun needle up a notch at any party.

These lower ladder levels can be greatly impacted by the Conversationalists on your guest list. Given the opportunity, they will bridge the fear gap and encourage these quiet personalities to become more involved in each party activity.

Critics are perfect personalities for Conversationalist. They work together to spool up the conversation and tend to send discussions into a variety of directions.  Many times the debate will pull the Spectators into the discussion. The host much watch the critics closely so as to ward off contentious conversations…

The top of the ladder rung are the creators, or the people who will partner naturally with the host to find ways to improve the experience for everyone. This personality group will recognize the Communicators in the group and leverage them to build a better experience for themselves and every other personality involved….

Knowing the social ladder and working with the personalities on the guest list will make your next party climb to new heights. Find the social conservationists and then let them work their magic in the room…


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