Meetings of Le Salon aim to instruct, entertain and build social networks based on friendship. For more on the philosophy of the group, do have a look at the “about” page and the more in-depth discussion notes “the sociology of intelligent conversation“.
We aim at stimulating interesting and organic conversation around the chosen topic. There is no goal to be reached at the end of the evening. Everyone in the group is encouraged to express themselves, both in terms of their knowledge of the topic and their life experience. It is not about winning or convincing anyone, but about sharing and getting to know others in a spirit of respect. Try to share ideas which others may find it interesting to explore further by themselves. Do avoid voicing strongly held opinions without any evidence to back them up as no-one needs to come specially to an event for that.
In order to ensure the group dynamics, we divide people into groups of typically five or six, each with a facilitator. Facilitators should ensure at the outset that everyone in their group knows each other before moving into the core of the discussion. Check also linguistic competences as relevant: discussions in groups can be in any language or mix of languages which everyone in the group can understand. The discussion notes and prepared questions are meant to help to guide the discussion, but it is up to the facilitator to decide in what direction to take the discussion in function of the personalities and interests in the group. Do read through the questions, prepare yourself and adapt them as you wish in advance of the meeting. During the meeting, encourage everyone to contribute, but without mechanically going around the circle. It is good if you or other members of the group ask follow-up questions to participants to go more in depth into certain points they have raised; this we we get to know each other and the topic better. The discussion should be kept fun and engaging, with a good balance between interaction whilst avoiding undue interruption. At some point, most or all of the members of the group should try facilitating a session. There are some resources for facilitators listed on the “resources” page.
in order to make discussions more interesting, fun and useful, members of the group are encouraged to prepare themselves and think about the topic in advance. The minimum is to read through the discussion notes, which also contain links to additional material. The purpose of these notes is not to bias the discussion to my view of the world, which I anyway try to avoid doing, but to present contrasting viewpoints both from contemporary sources and the history of ideas. Your own contributions to these discussion notes are very welcome. Members can also comment on the posts in advance of, or indeed after, the meeting.
Views expressed during the meetings may not be publicly ascribed to the persons concerned (the “Chatham House” rule applies).
We ask for a small deposit towards the costs of the evening, paid up-front on-line and purely to discourage no-shows. The balance is payable on arrival or departure. Meetings are held on the basis of pure cost-recovery; your host, facilitators and salonniers are not receiving any remuneration for the time they put in.
This graphic summarizes our core values! We are: