Keeping in mind the structure of a 1-1 is extremely helpful.
However, structuring the meeting too rigidly can make it more awkward and harder to connect with your mentee.
Generally, if you're meeting with someone who is newer to the community or if you know them less well, you should do more to make the interaction natural and free-form.
If you make a great impression and show the best side of your community, they'll be much more likely to follow up on any actionable points.
That's why we have this roadmap:
Our roadmap makes it okay to get a bit lost in the conversation, and then use this guide to find your way back. That way, you can still make sure the 1-1 is hitting as many of the key points as possible!
Also, every 1-1 is different, so this is just a basic blueprint that you should be adapting to each 1-1.
Discussion prompts to create structure
You can use the following discussion prompts to keep the conversation well-structured as it progresses, and to keep you aware of important points to mention.
We've deliberately ordered them here in the order we think you should talk about them.
The most important part of the conversation is usually section 3, where you drill down into their thinking more. Especially after the first 1-1 when you've got to know them, you'll probably end up going between a couple iterations of steps 2 and 3.
In each section, there are several questions, not all of which must be asked for you to have a great conversation.
Use them when you want to move the conversation along, but don't interrupt a good chat because you feel like you have to get through this checklist.
Also, these questions aren't going to always be phrased in a way that feels natural to you and the way you speak. Adapt their tone as you see fit for your own conversational approach.
1.a Intros for the first session:
- How are you?
- Tell me about yourself: what is your major/your job? How long have you been doing it?
- What's the part of your course/your work that you find the most interesting?
- What are you planning on doing after you graduate?
- What sorts of things do you do for fun?
- Have you previously been involved with EA?
- How did you get into EA?
1.b Intros for subsequent meetings:
- How's it been going?
- Done anything fun since we last chatted?
- Did you enjoy the last session?
- Were the followups that I set out at the end last time helpful?
- How much progress have you made on our followup points?
2. Establishing talking points:
- What kind of support are you hoping to get out of these conversations?
- What would be the best thing for us to talk about today?
- What areas of EA are you the most interested in learning more about?
- What areas of EA are you the most uncertain about?
- How might our conversations affect your career plans going forward?
- Is there anything we can be doing for you as a community that we're not currently doing?
- What's really confusing for you at the moment, either in your life, your thinking, or here at [college/university]?
3. Drilling down into their thinking:
- I'm really interested to hear more about what you already think about [cause area/career plan they mentioned in 2], can you walk me through it?
- What have you already read about [thing mentioned in 2]? How did it change your perspective?
- What could you find out about [topic] that would make you drastically change your view?
- Why isn’t it more important for you to work on [other plausible cause area] instead of [thing from 2]?
- What would be a good next step for you in working out how you feel about [topic]? I'd suggest we could try [e.g. reading X article], [e.g. talking through Y in more depth], or [e.g. putting you in contact with Z person to arrange a conversation].
4. Wrapping up and following up:
- When do you think would be a good time for us to talk again?
- Is about two weeks long enough for you to have a chance to read that article so we can chat about it together?
- Is it ok if I send your details to someone who I think could really help you work this out?
- We're running [an event] on [date] at [location] - I think it would be really good for you to talk to [person] there to help clear up some of the things we've been talking about! Would you like to come?