When I work with large groups I always design my meetings for a ‘cabaret’ layout. By this I mean, round tables with groups of upto 8. This layout allows a meeting design that gives depth of discussion at tables, and conclusion sharing in a whole group.
I have recently attended two, very different, business networking events that were run with this style of working. I got some interesting insights into what it can be like for participants to work this way.
The first event had 10 people on the table with a table host. The table host got us to introduce ourselves, and then introduced the topic for discussion, social networking. What I found interesting was that the group had very diverse experiences and, with no specific question to answer, the conversation really lacked focus. I was also the only female on this table and found it really hard to contribute. I am no shrinking violet, and I spend my life in male dominated business meetings, so this caught me by surprise.
In the second event, the table group was about 8. I got volunteered to be the table captain and there was a specific question to be answered, ‘if I had a magic wand, what would I wish for myself in the next 12 months?’, which everyone had been advised in advance. Interestingly in this group, the group facilitated itself, got equal contribution and all I did was make notes and report back. I also noticed that in this discussion there was no right / wrong thinking in the group, just exploration. Whereas in the first group, although it was positioned as a discussion, there was a lot more judgement of people’s contribution.
So… my conclusions…
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