Expectations for Roundtable Discussion Moderators
Expectations for all participants and moderators
A Roundtable Discussion is intended to resemble a live, in-person conversation. As such, we ask that all moderators and participants have webcams and mics on throughout the discussion.
Everyone should arrive on time and be ready to discuss the topic at hand. Seats for roundtable discussions are limited, so we ask that participants do not sign up for sessions they cannot attend.
All participants are expected to engage in civil discourse and to treat one another with kindness and respect. Interrupting, speaking over, or being rude to others is unacceptable. Moderators who believe a participant’s behavior is unacceptable have the authority to remove that participant from the discussion. A participant who is removed from more than one discussion will not be allowed to sign up for or attend future roundtable discussions.
We also kindly ask that the moderator and participants be mindful of others and allow them equal participation. While we hope that everyone is excited about the topics and wants to engage in discussion about them, we want to ensure that everyone gets a chance to be heard. Similarly, because a discussion is only as good as its participants make it, we encourage everyone to actively participate.
Please begin your Roundtable Discussion no later than a minute or two after your scheduled start time. Please begin by telling the group a little about your responsibilities as moderator and let them know that your job is to facilitate conversation, not give a lecture.
We also suggest that you ask participants to introduce themselves, briefly stating who they are, where they are from, what company/firm they work for, and any experiences they have had with the subject matter of the Roundtable Discussion.
After introductions, your main job will be to guide the discussion and keep it focused on the subject matter of the Roundtable Discussion. To the extent necessary, ask questions or raise issues that are related to the subject matter. Also, try to involve as many people in the discussion as possible. If you find that a few people are monopolizing the conversation, do your best to encourage others to speak up (pointers for this are below).
The outlines for the Roundtable Discussion should be written to cover a wide range of issues within the topic both to cover the topic more broadly and to allow everyone to participate in the discussion. You are not required to cover every item in the outline, particularly if those attending have no interest or experience in the subject, but you should prepare a wide range of questions. Feel free to ask follow-up questions that are not on your outline, but try to keep the discussion focused on your main topic.
Moderators are expected to maintain the same behavior expectations as participants. Additionally, as the moderator, you are also responsible for maintaining the civility of the discussion for everyone. If you believe a participant’s behavior is unacceptable, you may remove that participant from the discussion, but please do not engage or argue with the participant. Simply remove them and continue the discussion.
Please note that you may not pitch or sell any products or services during your Roundtable Discussion.
Here are a few pointers for what to do if your participants aren’t talking:
Pause and give people time to think. The silence may feel awkward for you, but when you give participants a chance to gather their thoughts, often they’ll start participating. Often presenters will only allow for a few seconds of silence before speaking, but giving participants an entire minute or longer can get the discussion going again and make it deeper and more engaging.
Ask participants to write for a few minutes about what questions they hope to get answers to during the Roundtable Discussion. Circle back to them throughout as the conversation lulls.
Don’t feel the need to answer every question. Let others at the table share their thoughts and expertise.
Use the software’s chat feature to give participants time to think. Ask them to type out their questions or comments so that they have time to gather their thoughts.
Use the software’s poll feature to get participants engaging with the topic, even if they aren’t speaking directly.
Direct questions to those who aren’t speaking as much. Of course these shouldn’t be intended as “gotcha” questions, but ask questions to specific participants.