Round Table Discussions are a form of communicating in small groups to share concerns, ideas and problem solve in a positive way. Group participation is a key concept and equally active participation and co-operation from all group members will be encouraged. Roundtables provide a structured forum for attendees to meet and learn about each others’ affiliations, interests, experience, and expertise.
In a roundtable session participants agree on a specific topic to discuss and debate. Each moderator/facilitator is assigned to a specific table. While the facilitators are prepared to move the conversation along a common thread of discussion, they also know that they should allow the group to flow into conversation that is relevant to the group’s interests.
Roundtables are excellent venues for giving and receiving targeted feedback, engaging in in-depth discussions, and meeting colleagues with similar interests in a more informal way than a panel presentation or workshop. Roundtables do not have traditional audio-visual aids available and moderators may provide only brief handouts (usually a one-page print-out of key points and possibly some questions) because the emphasis is on the discussion itself, rather than a formal presentation.
Some ground rules for roundtable discussions:
- One session lasts up to 30 minutes
- You can choose a different table, provided there is available space
- Everyone participates, no one dominates!
- Keep an open mind. Listen carefully and try to understand the views of those who disagree with you.
- Help keep the discussions on track. Stick to the questions, try not to ramble.
- Focus on constructive ideas and solutions.
- Have fun!