Wings Unlimited, Inc.
Steps to Run an Effective Virtual Roundtable Discussion
Roundtable discussions are a great way to discuss and debate specific topics all while giving each participant an equal chance to be heard. Believe it or not this is not something that can only be achieved in person. We see virtual roundtables happening all the time on television whether watching your favorite talk show or political news station.
Without a strong plan, discussions can become just another business meeting or easily get very chaotic. Therefore, it is important to take time to properly prepare so all participants walk away feeling inspired and like their time was well spent. Continue reading below for our tips and steps to run an effective roundtable discussion at your next virtual event.
During registration, ask attendees what they are interested in learning about and discussing during the conference. Then use their answers to develop topics for each roundtable.
Limit the group size to 10-15 attendees. Roundtables are meant to be a casual and intimate environment. It is important to find that sweet spot, while remember the high no-show rate of virtual meeting attendance.
Assign host(s) and support roles - Host: to moderate the conversation and present a discussion topic to attendees. Support: a more technical role in order to facilitate the discussion so that the host can focus on the conversation.
Be prepared. It might seem unnecessary, but it is important to prepare an introduction, any important housekeeping notes (i.e. recording disclaimer, advise attendees how to mute/unmute, chat feature, etc.) and ice breakers or questions in case the room goes flat. More importantly, no one likes and awkward goodbye. Make sure to manage the time and prepare a wrap-up/thank you.
Remember – this is a conversation, not a presentation. Do not hog the mic! The goal is to hear from everyone and make up for the lost face-to-face interaction and chatter of coffee hour when at an in-person meeting.