Best Practices for Hosting a Roundtable Discussion in 2024

Business  Knowledge Sharing

In today’s digital landscape, where virtual discussions and remote collaborations are no longer the exception but the norm, hosting an effective roundtable discussion has become a critical skill. Ensuring that these discussions are both engaging and fruitful for the host and attendees requires an understanding of updated best practices.

Stay ahead of the collaborative future of communication by exploring how to create a shared space of mutual respect and thought-provoking dialogue with a roundtable discussion today. Read the article below to familiarise yourself with the essentials of hosting a successful roundtable discussion in 2023.

What is a Roundtable Discussion?

A roundtable discussion is a collaborative conversational exchange where participants come together to discuss a specific topic, issue, or area of interest. Each participant is given an opportunity to share their viewpoints and knowledge on the topic. The goal is to foster open dialogue, encourage a diversity of perspectives, and generate innovative ideas or solutions.

How To Host A Roundtable Discussion in 10 Steps

Whether you’re a seasoned host or preparing for your first roundtable discussion, the 10 steps listed in the section below will help you plan, manage, and execute an impactful and engaging event for your attendees.

1. Define your goal

Have a clear understanding of what you hope to achieve through this roundtable discussion. Are you aiming to generate new ideas, solve a problem, or encourage executive networking among attendees? Having a clear purpose for your roundtable discussion guides your subsequent decisions in aligning your event with your overall marketing strategy.

2. Leverage the appropriate tools

With the shift to virtual roundtable discussions, ensuring your digital platform is user-friendly and accessible to all participants is critical. Consider what functionality you’ll need to boost your event: breakout rooms for small group discussions, a polling feature for instant feedback, or the ability to record the session for future reference.

3. Invite your target audience

Your discussion will only be as good as your participants. Identify who can bring valuable insights to your roundtable. This could include industry experts, thought leaders, or stakeholders. Remember, diversity in viewpoints enriches the conversation during your roundtable discussion and provides more value to your attendees.

4. Tailor the roundtable to your participants

Understand the needs and expectations of your participants to maximise engagement and participation during the roundtable discussion. Ensure the time zone is convenient for all attendees, especially in a globalised setting. Adapt the language, pace, and length of the discussion to their preferences and schedules.

5. Hire a moderator

A skilled moderator can be the make-or-break factor for a roundtable discussion. Moderators guide the flow of the conversation, manage the time, ensure each participant gets their turn to speak and intervene if the discussion goes off-topic or becomes heated to ensure that your roundtable discussion remains focused and balanced.

6. Brief your facilitators

Before the discussion, brief your moderator and other facilitators on the topic, the goal, and the profiles of the participants. Outline their roles, including how they should handle disagreements and how to encourage quieter participants to share their views to ensure a seamless yet engaging roundtable discussion experience for the attendees.

7. Set an agenda

A well-researched and detailed agenda gives your discussion direction and structure. Consider including an introduction, sectioning time for each topic, assigning breaks, and a closing section to summarise key points and next steps. Share the agenda with the participants and facilitators ahead of time so they are aware of the roundtable discussion schedule and adjust accordingly.

8. Choose a valuable topic

Select a topic that aligns with the goal of your roundtable discussion and is relevant and interesting to your participants. The topic should be broad enough to invite different perspectives yet specific enough to remain focused and productive.

9. Facilitate educational discussions

Encourage participants to not only express their views but also share their knowledge and experiences. Doing so makes the roundtable discussion a learning experience for all involved. As a host, you can prepare some prompt questions to steer the discussion towards educational insights and encourage participation from every participant.

10. Record and share results

Finally, don’t let the rich insights from your roundtable discussion fade away. Record the discussion (with participants’ consent), take detailed notes, or have a graphic recorder capture key points visually. Doing so helps maintain the momentum for your B2B marketing efforts and encourages further engagement post-discussion.

Best Practices to Make Your Virtual Roundtable More Engaging

As we continue to adapt in-person interactions to online formats, creating engaging and dynamic virtual roundtable discussions can be a challenge. However, with thoughtful planning and implementing the best practices listed below, you can ensure a successful event to empower growth for your business.

Involve your attendees in the planning process

Conduct a pre-event survey with questions about what they hope to gain from the discussion, specific topics they would like covered, and their convenient time slots. Doing so helps you tailor the roundtable discussion to suit your audience’s needs and sends a clear message that their opinions are valued to help increase their investment and interest in the discussion.

Choose an engaging moderator

Your choice of moderator can significantly impact the energy level and engagement of your virtual roundtable discussion. An engaging and skilled moderator will not only steer the conversation effectively but also use their interpersonal skills to maintain a positive and inclusive atmosphere, inviting participants to interact more freely.

Add an element of fun with your event catering

Yes, even in a virtual roundtable discussion setting! Consider sending participants a package of gourmet snacks or a meal to enjoy during the discussion. Doing so creates a sense of shared experience and camaraderie among your participants to make the event more enjoyable and memorable.

Create polls and other interactive elements

Utilise interactive elements and tools digital platforms provide to keep your audience engaged and actively participating rather than passively listening. These tools could include running quick polls to gather instant feedback or incorporating Q&A sessions, quizzes, or breakout rooms for small-group discussions.

Promote excitement around your event

Build anticipation before your roundtable discussion by sharing teaser content on your B2B platforms like social media or newsletters. Teaser content may include speaker bios, intriguing questions, or fun facts about your topic. Consider hosting a pre-event networking session to build more personal connections. Ultimately, the goal is to generate interest and ensure attendees look forward to the roundtable.

Host an Exclusive Roundtable Discussion With the Ortus Club

The key to a successful roundtable discussion lies in the diversity of perspectives, active participation, and creating an open and respectful environment for dialogue. In this digital age, where virtual meetings are coming to the forefront, we at The Ortus Club strive to recreate that intimate and engaging environment in every executive event we manage.

At The Ortus Club, we understand the importance and value of these roundtable discussions. With our expertise in events marketing and commitment to fostering knowledge-sharing and building executive connections, we’re well-equipped to support you in hosting exceptional roundtable discussion events. Contact us today to learn more!


More on business