Anchoring like a Pro 1/3 - What to talk about?

So you want to start a discussion on Civility - but what should you talk about?

This post is part of a series on Anchoring great discussions. It deals with selecting a topic in the first place. The second post is on creating the discussion itself, and the final post is on running the discussion.

Civility's small group video discussion format naturally lends itself to a wide array of discussion topics. Almost nothing is "off the table" as long as it can be discussed in a civil and respectful manner. That said, some discussions are going to be more attractive to your fellow community members, and will probably be more memorable and rewarding in the long run. The most important questions to ask yourself before you settle upon a topic are:
  1. How excited are you about the topic?
  2. How excited do you think others will be about the topic?
  3. How broad or deep is the topic you're considering? Is there enough meat there for a full 1-2 hour discussion?
If the answer to all three of those questions is "a lot", then you found yourself a winner. There is nothing more powerful for you as an Anchor, or for your participants, than to be enthusiastic about the topic at hand. Enthusiasm is infectious, and it is also the fuel that inspires all of us to put work into making for a great discussion.

There are an endless number of topics our users have been interested in in the past, such as: Politics, Technology, Futurism, Culture, Art, Philosophy, Ethics, Law, Biology, Alien Intelligence, Sociology, Business, History, Current events, etc. Many times these discussions were based on blogposts, podcast episodes, the news cycle, online videos, books, our personal lives, the deep questions that interested us, our hopes, fears, and dreams, etc. The only limit here is your imagination, and perhaps the time your participants would have to prepare for the discussion.

When choosing a topic, some people worry that it seems too big for a discussion. Perhaps you just read a book on consciousness and you want to have a discussion with others who have also read the same book. That's okay! If that's really the discussion you want to have, try to inspire others to put in the work to make it happen, and give them enough time to do it. When you sit down to write your discussion card, you'll get the chance to make your case for why participants should read 500 pages over the coming month before the scheduled discussion date. Or, perhaps, you'll find some CliffsNotes style material that condenses the book into 20 pages and you'll put that as an option for your participants.

When you think you've found a great topic and you're ready to craft your discussion card, go and check out our second post in our Anchoring like a Pro series, Crafting a great discussion.



  1. Regarding the 500-page book situation, you can actually find free book summaries at sites such as Four Minute Books.


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