When organising events, it can be challenging to come up with different ways to provide content to the delegates.

One particularly effective scenario is to set up round-tables as a ‘breakout’ option at some stage during your event. This consists of an expert hosting the table and approximately 8 seats around the table to be taken by delegates looking for a more personal interaction with that expert or the subject matter they represent.

You can have your delegates register for specific round-tables before you start by adding their names to a sheet or an electronic list on the day or even have them register in the weeks leading up to the event. Or you can wing it and run the whole thing as first-in-best-dresssed.

Whether you’ve been asked to host a round table or you’re looking for some instructions for your own round-table hosts, these tips will assist:

  • Introduce yourself, give your little paragraph of background (because the delegates will already know who you from the description they read which drew them to your table) then invite them all: ‘let’s go around the table and introduce ourselves – your name, what brings you to this conference and what drew you to this table?”
  • Then you just listen, with a pen/paper and write down all their questions.  This will take about 5 mins.
  • Look at your timeframe: how much time do you have left? You should budget approximately 5 minutes to cover one question: If you’ve got 15 minutes to go, hand pick 3 topics from the list that you’ll now discuss with the table.
  • Just take each point one at a time and unravel 3 things about each point.
  • If you have more time, and there’s another thing you’d like to pick off the list, go for it.

Bonus ideas:

  • Consider grabbing email addresseses and writing up an answer or a proving a link to the answer for the things you didn’t get to and email them a few days later.
  • Consider spending a few minutes facilitating the table in creatinga 1 page action plan… here’s what you say:
    • Now grab a piece of paper and a pen, and put three bullet points on the page.. one at the top, one in the middle and one just up from the bottom.
    • Now next to each bullet point, write one action step you’re going to take towards your goal.
    • Once you’ve got your 3 points, under each one, give yourself a deadline such as ‘tomorrow’ or ‘next week’ or ‘1 month’
    • Write one more point under that deadline: what’s one step you’re going to take in the next 3 days to move you closer to that main goal.

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