The First Chapter
Roundtable Sessions at the NCTE Annual Convention
If you were one of several presenters on a single proposal that was submitted as a roundtable, you likely don’t need more information. However, a few roundtable sessions were assembled from other proposals during the convention planning process. If that is the case, you will be in a session with other presenters on the same general topic.
Roundtable sessions take place in rooms set up with tables, each with ten chairs. You will be seated at one of those tables, with some kind of placard identifying you and your title—usually a number system keyed to your title in the program book. A room facilitator will welcome audience members and explain how the session will work. Audience members will choose tables that match their interests, and they will have approximately 20 minutes to spend at that table. The facilitator will call time, and attendees will select a second table, again for 20 minutes. The facilitator will then call time, allowing a third session of 20 minutes, and he or she will conclude the event at the designated time. (During some roundtable sessions, attendees will simply move freely among the tables throughout the session.)
Obviously, this session format differs from a presentation on a panel. You will not have a projector available for showing slides, for example, although you’d only need to bring 25-30 handouts if you want to share images or information. More importantly, with only seats at a table, there is a strong opportunity for interaction. In fact, your sessions will almost certainly work best if you plan 10 minutes of remarks (or less), then engage your attendees in a discussion. You might invite them to ask questions, or you might conclude with a discussion prompt to start a conversation.
Participants in roundtable sessions generally find them energizing. They get to interact with several people, they usually get to contribute more, and they get to move around to fresh settings.