Choreograph Lively Dinner Conversation

I started hosting dinner parties when I was 12.  I enjoyed cooking and especially loved great conversation.  Over the years, I started to notice that even with fourteen fascinating people at the table, sometimes the conversation was like fireworks and sometimes it fell flat.

I wanted to figure out an algorithm for dinner party seating.  Was this magic?  Or was there a formula?  I was certain there was a way to ensure great conversation.

I think of dinner table conversation as “pinball.”  If the ball stalls or goes down the drain, the game loses energy.  If an energetic conversation is happening between two people sitting across from each other, the ends of the table “die.”

It’s an art!  It’s a science!  It’s fun.  Please try it out and let me know how it works for you!

Basic Rules

»Eight to 14 people per table works best.

»Never seat friends next to one another.

»Ignore the old etiquette of alternating males and females.

Strategy

»Sort place cards into four “energy density” piles: H (high), M (medium), L (low), and ? (wild card).

»Assign the H guests first. Seat them diagonally from one another. Never seat H people directly across from each other.

»If you have guests with strong opposing views, seat them diagonally from each other, too.

»Seat the L people next to the H people. When conversation bounces around the table, The Ls will be more inclined to participate because of their proximity to an H.

»Scatter M and ? guests among the remaining open seats.

The piece below was first published by Wired in August of 2006

Scroll down on this page to see the original.

1 Comment

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One response to “Choreograph Lively Dinner Conversation

  1. Tim Girvin

    Will share with my teams — coolness. Wishing well, LS — TIM ..

    Tim Girvin | founder + principal mobile direct. 206.890.0621 teams: New York City + Seattle + San Francisco | Tokyo

    work: http://www.girvin.com truth: http://tim.girvin.com/ reels: http://www.youtube.com/user/GIRVIN888

    girvincontent: http://blog.girvin.com/ http://tim.girvin.com/Entries/index.php

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