Making Roundtables Work

A wise man speaks because he has something to say, a fool speaks because he has to say something.

—Plato, early Greek philosopher

On paper, roundtable debates and discussions should be the easiest, although sometimes they can still be hard work for the chair, especially if they are conducted over a meal, a popular format in some business circles. The main problem you can face with this format is sustaining the discussion through three courses and coffee. If it dries up after the main course, you can hardly say: “Okay, we seem to have exhausted that subject, let’s pack up and go home!” It will fall to you to keep it going. This is where thorough preparation is essential.

If it is a long roundtable—with or without ...

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