How to host a fireside chat

How to host a fireside chat

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What is a fireside chat and why do we host them?

In our Soapbox Project community, we have fireside chats every other week with social justice advocates, experts, and entrepreneurs. The goals are:

  • To inspire our members to find solutions that work for their lives and their community
  • To understand the broad range of social impact career paths
  • To get more creative with the actions we take

These fireside chats are 30 minutes, recorded, and shared within our community (not externally).

What makes a "good" fireside chat?

To achieve our fireside chat goals, we need engaging speakers and thoughtful moderators. Some things that have stood out in the past are:

  • Speakers that broaden your perspective of the world (e.g. hearing from farmers, Indigenous leaders, other non- white tech bro-y people)
  • Memorable actions that focus on improving your whole life (e.g. journaling to mitigate eco-anxiety while preserving your overall wellness)

The questions you'll ask as a moderator will be key to pulling out these takeaways and making our speakers shine.

Before the chat

Outreach and securing a speaker

  1. Identify the speaker. We look for people who have lived experience with the issues they're talking about, are deep experts in their work (and can explain it well), and reflect a diversity of perspectives. One good way to do a little bit of vetting is to find their personal website and/or Google their name to see if they've shared any blogs, podcasts, videos, etc. of them speaking β€” this gives us a good sense on how authentic they will be.
  2. Find their contact info. Twitter/LinkedIn/Instagram DMs and cold emails have worked really well in the past.
  3. Send them a message β€” you can use the blurb below. Alternatively, you can loop a Soapbox team member in for this step and we'll get it figured out.
  4. β€£
    Outreach blurb

    Soapbox Project makes social impact easy for busy people. In addition to sending bite-sized climate action plans to 4,000 people around the world, we also have a membership community; one of our perks is regular fireside chats with climate and social justice experts.

    Would you be interested in speaking at a virtual fireside chat to share your climate/social justice journey? These are 30 minutes, totally casual, and we'll ensure there's a protected space for you to share your thoughts and expertise. They are usually recorded only for our participants, but we're happy to accommodate your preferences.

    If you're interested and available for DATE/TIME, me or someone from the Soapbox team can send you a placeholder calendar invite and a few more details!

Event promotion

Fireside chats are free to all Soapbox community members, and we want to keep making new friends! Share your role in growing our community with the following. You can post on LinkedIn, Twitter, and/or any of your other communities.

Promotion blurb

I'm moderating a fireside chat for Soapbox Project, a community that makes social impact easy for busy people! On [DATE/TIME], I'll be hosting a conversation with [SPEAKER/INFO]. Learn more here! [EVENT LINK]

Making the invite + event (placeholder β€” Soapbox team to handle for now)

This is a placeholder. Lorem Ipsum and all that

During the chat

Fireside chat best practices

The best chats are the most personal! If you can get the speaker to share stories about themselves, that'll be πŸ’―πŸ”₯
  • Make sure the fireside chat is being recorded and live captioning is turned on
  • Introduce yourself and the speaker; check in with members, see how they're doing, and remind people they can turn their mics/cameras on or off depending on their energy. Reiterate that these chats are casual and all questions are fair game
  • Have a list of 5-7 questions beforehand (Click for sample questions)
  • Make sure to keep checking the chat for questions and prioritize those over your own, although you want to make sure your "general questions" are asked first so everyone is on the same page and has enough context
  • Pause after the speaker answers to allow a second or two of reflection; keep prompting members to ask questions if they'd like to, either by unmuting or in the chat
  • If the speaker says something that's not on your list of questions but it's interesting, feel free to go down that rabbit hole πŸ‡ β€” it's your chat to moderate!
  • Jot down key takeaways for the post-event recap (you can also use the recording/live transcript for this)
  • Make sure to get permission to stay in touch

Sample questions

  1. Introduce yourself. What led you to finding this [problem]? What's your sustainability/social impact journey?
  2. Why did you start [company/project/book/etc]?
  3. Why does this problem exist and why is this frustrating?
  4. πŸ“’
    The goal here is to get pissed off and personal, so we get people thinking "holy πŸ’©, I can't believe this problem is so messed up. We must do something about it"
  5. How does the work you do ensure a better future for everyone? What are the different areas of social justice you focus on/how does your solution actually work?
  6. How can we get involved in [solving this problem/helping you out]?
  7. Do you have any advice that EVERYONE should be doing right now?
  8. What gives you hope when the world is on fire?
  9. How can we stay in touch with you?
  10. πŸ“’
    Make sure to get permission to stay in touch!

After the chat

Sharing recap and recording

  1. Share key takeaways and the recording on our events space. Here's an example of what that could look like, but the level of detail is up to you.
  2. Drop all the Zoom recording stuff into this folder. (Please label your recording with the speaker's name/date so it's easier to find.)
  3. CELEBRATE!! You get 50 points on our leaderboard for moderating an awesome fireside chat! πŸ’ƒπŸ½πŸ₯³

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