Menu of Interactive Session Formats

“Menu” of Session Formats for CEC20:

Standard Panel Session

Panel sessions are a great way to get more than one expert opinion on a topic in a short amount of time. Panels consist of three-to-five people with preferably contradictory opinions discussing a specific topic in a conversation moderated by a session chair. The session should be framed around a clear question, which is introduced by the chair. Each panel member then has 3 – 5 minutes to give a position statement introducing their opinions. The chair should then facilitate a question and answer session among the panel members (max 1/3 of the session time) before inviting questions from the audience.    

Fishbowl Session

Four to five chairs are arranged in an inner circle. This is the fishbowl. The remaining chairs are arranged in concentric circles outside the fishbowl. A few participants are selected to fill the fishbowl, while the rest of the group sits on the chairs outside the fishbowl. One chair is left empty in the fishbowl. The moderator introduces the topic and the participants inside the fishbowl start discussing the topic. The audience outside the fishbowl listens in on the discussion.

Any member of the audience can, at any time, occupy the empty chair and join the fishbowl. When this happens, an existing member of the fishbowl must voluntarily leave the fishbowl and free a chair. The discussion continues with participants frequently entering and leaving the fishbowl. Depending on how large your audience is you can have many audience members spend some time in the fishbowl and take part in the discussion. When time runs out, the fishbowl is closed and the moderator summarizes the discussion.

Campfire Session

Campfire Sessions begin a lot like a traditional presentation, with a speaker (or multiple speakers) at the front of the room presenting an idea to a group of people. After 15 or 20 minutes, however, the focus shifts from the presenter to the audience. The goal is the creation of an open forum in which the attendees generate the majority of the discussion and knowledge sharing. For the remainder of the session, the presenter becomes a facilitator, inviting responses to comments and questions from those around the room and letting the audience dictate the ultimate direction of the conversation. Campfire sessions allow attendees to drive their own learning, listen to multiple perspectives on the same issue, and share experiences with individuals throughout the room. Campfire sessions also lend themselves to networking.

World Café Session

The World Café is a format designed to encourage a flow of conversation between participants, facilitate broad audience participation, and enable a more sustained discussion. Attendees are seated at tables with four-to-six participants per table in an informal, café-style setting. The process begins with a brief introduction and a “big” question, which attendees are asked to discuss (generally for about 15 minutes). Once time is up, all-but-one of the participants from each table move to a different table and repeat the process. The person who stays functions as a "table host" and reviews what was discussed during the previous rounds.  Following two-to-three rounds of discussions, key points from each table are presented to the whole group for a final collective discussion.

Speed Geeking Session

A large room is selected as the speed geeking venue. All the presenters are arranged in a large circle along the edge of the room. The remaining members of the audience stand at the center of the room. Ideally there are about 6-7 audience members for each presenter. One person acts as the facilitator.

The facilitator rings a bell to start proceedings. Once proceedings start, the audience splits up into groups and each group goes to one of the presenters. Presenters have 5 minutes to introduce their work and answer questions. At the end of the five minutes, the facilitator rings a bell. At this point, each group moves over to the presenter to their right and the timer starts once more. The session ends when every group has attended all the presentations.

Open Space Session

The approach is most distinctive for its initial lack of an agenda, which sets the stage for the session’s participants to create the agenda for themselves. Typically, an "open space" session will begin with short introductions by a single facilitator of the general theme of the session and the "self-organizing" process called "open space." Then the group creates the working agenda, as individuals post their topics on a physical or electronic bulletin board. Each individual "convener" of a breakout group takes responsibility for naming the topic, posting it on the bulletin board, assigning it a space and time to meet, and then later showing up at that space and time, kicking off the conversation, and taking notes. These notes are usually presented back to the group in a final plenary, and or compiled into a proceedings document that is distributed physically or electronically to all participants.

7-14-28 Presentation Session

7-14-28 presentation is a rapid-fire showcase of ideas, innovations, and theories. Speakers have a 7-minute time limit for their talk utilizing a deck of no more than 14 slides that have a minimum 28-point font size for any text. 7-14-28 allows speakers to focus on the essentials of their subject, while offering an audience the chance to enjoy multiple presentations in one sitting.


*Please note: While we will do our best to provide the room setup you prefer, due to restrictions at the conference venue this might not always be possible.