6 Roundtable Meeting Discussion Mistakes You Should Know

Mobile Brand and Mobile App Marketing in 2022 Business  Knowledge Sharing

Roundtable discussions are a powerful tool for fostering open dialogue, bridging different perspectives, and unearthing deep insights. When done right, they can be a catalyst for change, innovation, and collaboration. However, like any collaborative endeavour, they come with their own set of potential pitfalls. Whether it’s an ill-defined topic or simply poor time management, even seasoned organisers can sometimes miss the mark. 

When it comes to hosting knowledge-sharing roundtables, most organisers commit common mistakes unknowingly. It takes more than just sending out Zoom links or booking a location to guarantee the event’s success. Create an engaging learning environment by remembering these six must-avoid errors.

Mobile Brand and Mobile App Marketing in 2022

What is a roundtable discussion?

A roundtable discussion is a meeting format where participants discuss a specific topic in an equal and open setting. This setup symbolizes equality among participants, promoting open and free-flowing dialogue in an informal and collaborative environment. The focus is on a singular subject, allowing for an in-depth exploration of the issue at hand.

The size of the group is typically small to ensure effective communication and equal opportunity for contribution. A moderator or facilitator may guide the discussion, keeping it on track and balanced. The roundtable format is particularly valued for its interactive nature, encouraging participants to engage in dialogue, share diverse perspectives, and contribute to collective problem-solving. The outcomes of such discussions can range from shared knowledge and ideas to action plans and new areas of research, making it a popular choice in academic, business, and workshop settings.

6 Roundtable Meeting Mistakes You Should Avoid

Roundtable discussions, with their unique format and collaborative nature, offer valuable opportunities for in-depth exploration and problem-solving. However, to ensure these discussions are effective and productive, it’s crucial to be aware of certain common mistakes. This section delves into six key errors frequently encountered in roundtable settings, providing insights on how to avoid them. By understanding and steering clear of these pitfalls, you can significantly enhance the quality, efficiency, and overall success of your roundtables.

Mistake #1: Being too focused on a topic

But isn’t the point of roundtable discussions to focus on a specific topic? 

While it would be a good start to tackle the main topic immediately, the discussion should be encouraged to flow from one relevant point to another. Yes and no questions would quickly end the debate, cutting short the natural flow of conversation during a roundtable discussion.  

One way to counter this common roundtable discussion mistake is always to ensure that the questions regarding the topic are open-ended. This would entice attendees to participate and engage more with everyone. The Ortus Club team usually starts with these questions to get to know the attendees more and get an in-depth understanding of their concerns:

      • What challenges are your organisation currently facing?
      • What steps are the organisation taking to fix these challenges?
      • What alternatives do you have if your current solutions don’t work?

 These questions are not only great for starting engagement. But these also serve as a roundtable meeting guide for sticking to the agenda.

Mistake #2: Promoting yourself

Whether you’re an attendee or organiser, it’s best to keep in mind that you’re not there to promote your business. Avoid committing this roundtable event mistake at all costs! Participants won’t appreciate a sales pitch in the middle of a serious conversation. Especially when working with high-level executives, they don’t have time to listen to an advertisement and would rather get on with the topic at hand. Your event will also feel less genuine if you try to do so.

When organising an event with The Ortus Club, we ensure that sales pitches, networking, and potential sales opportunities are avoided during the discussion proper. The roundtable discussion event is focused on industry insights and knowledge-sharing, after all. We encourage opportunities between organisations after the event.

Mistake #3: The wedding list dilemma

One tip organisers should keep in mind is quality over quantity, and this applies when creating the guestlist for your roundtables. The mindset of “having more attendees equals a more successful event” is another one of those common roundtable discussion mistakes.

It’s easy to get carried away when choosing the invitees. All organisers want a greater turnout and make sure that all “important” people are invited. For intimate events that require only a small number of participants, The Ortus Club makes sure to ask the clients who their target audience is so the team can do the needed profiling.

A big group could also make guests feel intimidated, especially those who are not comfortable speaking in front of a huge crowd. Although it may seem like a personal concern, intimidation will affect how the attendee participates. This would then entirely defeat the purpose of a roundtable discussion. Prevent this issue by inviting those who would potentially contribute value to the group and who can provide a unique perspective regarding the topic. 

When hosting an event with a large number of participants, The Ortus Club also ensures that banners, websites, and all informative materials state that the event is a masterclass. This gives interested attendees an idea of what the setup will be and how many people are going to be there.

Mistake #4: Not engaging beforehand

Another common roundtable discussion mistake is not greeting the attendees before the event starts. You may think that a simple “hello” would suffice. But it would make a more significant impact if you engaged with them more about something related to the industry or what led them to join the roundtable discussion or masterclass.

Not only would this create a positive first impression for you as an organiser, but it would make them feel that their contribution and opinions are valued during the roundtable discussion, which is why they were invited in the first place. 

If you’re uncomfortable with initiating the first move, classic conversation starters like small talk would do great. If you want to get into it quickly, you can start with a relevant topic to get the conversation flowing.

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Mistake #5: Not using a moderator

“Why would I need a moderator, anyway? The attendees are capable of starting the discussion themselves.” 

A roundtable discussion isn’t just a group of attendees talking to each other. Instead, it follows a specific event flow to ensure that all questions are answered, all points are covered, and everyone is given a chance to share their ideas or opinions. 

“A roundtable discussion isn’t just a group of attendees talking to each other. Instead, it follows a specific event flow to ensure that all questions are answered, all points are covered, and everyone is given a chance to share their ideas or opinions.”

A discussion without a moderator could get confusing, the topic could easily be sidetracked, or in the worst-case scenario — it could get heated. This roundtable discussion mistake should be kept in mind at all times.

The Ortus Club makes sure to invite experienced moderators to guide and keep all roundtable discussions and masterclasses on the right track. Keep these tips in mind if you’re unsure of how to choose the right moderator:

  • Ensure that the moderator has tried joining a knowledge-sharing event himself
  • A moderator who comes from the same industry as the event clients and attendees is an advantage
  • See to it that the moderator is capable of taking control whenever the discussion starts going off-course
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Mistake #6: Ending the discussion on a full stop

With everyone so engaged in conversations, abruptly ending the roundtable discussion is a mistake. Instead of doing so, utilise this time to entice attendees to go around and talk to each other. The opportunity to meet like-minded individuals from similar industries rarely happens, after all.

After an Ortus Club event, our team reminds attendees that it is encouraged for them to go around and exchange contact details if they wish to discuss even more about their businesses or organisations. Always remember that you are the bridge that connects peers and networks. 

Lastly, end the roundtable discussion with a quote from the moderator or the client. You may deem this unnecessary, but that quote will inspire the attendees to keep discussing matters relevant to their organisation and industry.

“Working on events like those from Ortus is an opportunity for me to learn. 15 people in that panel were marketers that come from different industries. I learned a lot in that one hour or 75 minutes that we had.

For me, it was a fantastic session, and I took a lot of notes because of the different perspectives people shared and the kind of challenges they have.”

Parth Patel

VP of Marketing, Kerry Group – APAC, Middle East, and Africa

Best Practices for Organising Successful Roundtable Discussions

Organizing a roundtable discussion involves more than just gathering experts around a table. To ensure the discussion is productive and achieves its objectives, here are three key best practices to consider:

Careful Selection of Participants

The essence of a roundtable lies in the quality of the discussion, heavily influenced by the participants. Choose individuals who not only have expertise in the topic but also bring diverse perspectives. This diversity in viewpoints can stimulate more comprehensive and in-depth discussions. It’s also important to keep the group size manageable, usually no more than 10-12 participants, to allow everyone an opportunity to contribute.

Clear Definition of Objectives and Agenda

Prior to the meeting, clearly define the objectives and establish a focused agenda. This preparation guides the discussion, ensuring that it stays on track and covers all intended topics. Provide participants with this information in advance, allowing them to prepare and ponder the subject matter, which can lead to more thoughtful and informed contributions during the discussion.

Structured Yet Flexible Format

While having a structured agenda is important, flexibility is key in a roundtable discussion. The organizer or moderator should be prepared to adapt the flow of the conversation as needed. This means being open to unexpected but relevant topics that may arise, allowing the discussion to evolve organically while still keeping it aligned with the overall objectives. However, the moderator should also ensure that the conversation doesn’t veer off course. Balancing this structure with flexibility encourages dynamic and fruitful discussions, making the most of the collective expertise present at the table.

Learning Never Stops With The Ortus Club

Roundtable discussions are invaluable events that are necessary to organisations, industries, and anyone from all walks of life. However, it’s hard to keep up with the trends and stay relevant in a space that’s saturated with competition, which is why the knowledge you get from these events is the key to skyrocketing an organisation.

Apart from the knowledge you get, the opportunity to meet multiple potential networks for your organisation is a rare instance, especially during these times when roundtables are limited. Therefore, connecting with peers who could potentially help grow your business is highly advantageous for you.

If you’re interested in hosting an executive virtual roundtable or masterclass but need someone else to do the heavy lifting, you can leave your details on our Host an Event page, and one of our team members will get back to you with more information.

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