Although the roundtable discussion meeting method isn’t used very often and has been around for a long time, Kelvin Newman recently shared on Event Manager Blog his recommendations to bring them back. I have highlighted some of his ideas below along with a smattering of my own.
Below is a definition and blueprint for success when planning your next roundtable discussion.
What is a Roundtable?
A roundtable is a form of discussion. Participants agree on specific topics to discuss and debate. Each person is given equal right to participate and most are conducted via a round table that seats 6, 8 or 10 individuals.
In a conference setting, you will have multiple roundtable discussions going on at the same time.
How long do They Last?
Roundtable discussions usually last 90 minutes.
What is a Blueprint for Success?
Set Clear Objectives for Roundtable Discussions
When you meet with your conference planning team, know exactly what you hope to get out of this discussion. Most roundtables revolve around a problem you are trying to solve, a challenge you are trying to overcome or you are just looking for new ideas about your event, your industry or your organization.
Put Together a Timed Agenda
Considering you have 90-minutes, it might seem like a long time to discuss a few items. Trust me, that time will fly by and if you are not careful, you objectives will not be met.
Start out with a table ice breaker and encourage individuals to trade business cards. The ice breaker questions can displayed on the projector rental and last up to 10 minutes. Once you have attendees buzzing, make certain you have iPad rentals or tablet rentals on the table for all to take notes and brainstorm on.
At the end of the discussion, provide enough time for all tables to share information with each other. Because you will be using mobile technology, all the notes can be captured and shared with attendees immediately after the program ends.
Choose Your Moderators Carefully
This is where most event planning falls short; they choose the speaker or sponsor to run the discussion, which may be a good choice or a disastrous one.
Here is your checklist for a great moderator:
- Very knowledgeable about objectives and topics
- Can observe patterns of discussion and guide the discussion, if need be, back to the objective
- Will draw out introverted or quiet participants and
- Reign in dominate table members
You may need to spend some time on this effort, but if you make the right choice, it will pay off in big dividends to your organization.
Be Selective About Attendees at the Roundtable
Rather than invite everyone and anyone who attends your conference, Newman suggests that you should be really selective about who is there. You want individuals who can provide different points of view, can add to the organization’s brain trust and are passionate about your success. I couldn’t agree more. Focus on quality over quantity.
About Hartford Technology Rental
Hartford Technology Rental has the equipment and service expertise to make your next roundtable discussion a smashing success! Give us a call today at 888-520-5667 or contact us online. We’d be happy to discuss the right solution for you.