A roundtable refers to the idea of getting a larger number of participants together to discuss a set topic over a set period of time. Normally there would be at least one regular host, if not two or three. Then the rest of the ‘table’ is made up of guests who are expert in the topic at hand. The host or hosts will direct the rountable, asking questions and steering the topic, so that everyone gets a turn and contributes to a great conversation on the topic.
Mostly this follows a simple format, as follows:
- Introduction from main host, introducing the topic
- “Round the table” introductions, relating the background of each guest
- Discussion around the topic at hand, perhaps split into sub topics. Each guest will be invited to speak at various points by the host, or they’ll be welcome to jump in as they like.
- Sum-up and farewell from the host(s).
- This type of format can lead to some really valuable information, and engaging debates due to the range of experience and background around the table.
- Very little editing or content planning is required, relying instead on the knowledge of the guests.
- Many guests mean many audiences to listen to the show, and promote it to others.
- Without skillful direction, roundtables can be derailed by strong characters with an axe to grind.
- Conversation can become repetitive if guests really want to get in on the chat, but don’t have too much new to say.
- Getting a large number of people together at once can be challenging
- The Paperclipping Roundtable – a lively discussion on scrapbooking with a variety of guests each week.
Roundtables can be a great way to build authority in your niche as it allows you to invite prominent guests to the show and produce great content from their experience. Most of the logistics are very simple – editing, content planning, etc – but organising guests in the early day can be hard.