Getting To Know You: Using A Roundtable To Start An Event

©2005 - 2006 Adrian Segar

 

 

Here’s a great way to start any workshop or conference with
up to a hundred participants. Try a roundtable. Here’s how:

 

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Set up a circle of chairs, one for each attendee.

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When everyone’s seated, go around the circle and have each person
answer these questions:

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How did I get here? href="#_ftn1" name="_ftnref1" title=""> style='font-size:12.0pt;font-family:Times'>[1]

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What would I like to have happen? title=""> style='font-size:12.0pt;font-family:Times'>[2]

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What experience do I have that others may find useful?

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Use a timekeeper to keep people to less than a minute or two, and
have a couple of scribes noting topics and themes on flip charts.

 

An early roundtable does three things well:

 

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It provides everyone with the opportunity to safely share their
connections to the workshop or conference topic as well as their relevant
experience.

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It gives each attendee valuable information on other attendees,
making it easy to start fruitful conversations.

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It reveals common topics of interest, which can then be explored
during the event.

 

I have been using roundtables for fifteen years, and find
that they quickly provide a group sense of connection and involvement. To my
surprise I found, from evaluations, that people consistently rate roundtables
more useful than an event’s pre-planned sessions.

 

If you are interested in using a roundtable, here are some
additional tips:

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Encourage everyone at your event to attend the roundtable.

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If possible, avoid multiple circles or irregular seating
arrangements. In a circle, everyone can see the person who is speaking. Other
seating arrangements are less intimate.

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Give your timekeeper a signaling device, like a chime, to
indicate “time’s up”.

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Allow at least a minute for each person to speak. For forty
people or less, allow two minutes. For seventy people or less allow ninety
seconds. A short five minute break in the middle can be helpful, but is not
necessary.

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Consider providing a thirty second warning if you fear people
will ramble.

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Wall mount copies of the three questions on flip chart paper
around the circle to help keep answers focused.

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Take the scribed topic lists and display them where people will
mingle during the rest of your event.

 

Try a roundtable at your next
event and see how it works for you. I’d love to hear about your experience.  

 

Adrian Segar name="mailto:adrian@segar.com">adrian@segar.com

www.segar.com

 

Learn more about Adrian and the AYE Conference at

 

 

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