World cafe

World cafe

A world café event can enable people to participate through speaking or simply listening or both.

The linked conversations from several small groups helps to identify common themes and bring about new insights.

  • Time to do: several hours to a full day
  • Staff: at least one facilitator per table
  • Cost: ££
  • Equipment: large room with multiple tables and chairs, microphones
  • large groups divided up with 4 to 6 people per table
  • face-to-face

How to do it

  • Identify the purpose and objectives, and consider the context of your event.
  • Arrange the room in a cafe style for small groups to converse around the tables.
  • Identify a host and facilitators for each table.
  • Think about questions you want to ask and brief the hosts and facilitators.
  • Give clear instructions to participants of what is expected from them.
  • Think about how you will capture the conversations: with a note taker at each table, getting participants to write down their ideas on sticky notes, or allowing people to doodle on paper tablecloths can all be effective.
  • If participants are expected to move from table to table in order to build the discussions, give clear instructions about how this will happen.

Advantages

  • It is a good way to bring people from different backgrounds together to think about a complex issue and to find imaginative ways forward.
  • Active listening is as important as speaking.

Challenges

  • Each table needs an experienced facilitators to keep discussions on track.
  • Volume of multiple voices at each table and within the room needs to be controlled. A 'talking stick' on each table can help limit it to one person speaking at a time.

More information

Last Updated: 16 March 2020
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