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Planning tool for “rolling panel” or “cascading conversation” design

Contributors: Ben Wiehe

Fit 10 speakers and 8 conversations into one hour with the attached document.

Start with a normal panel presentation table with three seats. After the first 15 minutes have one panelist leave the stage so that another can join from the audience. Repeat this procedure every 15 minutes until there are only 15 minutes left. Every panelist will have a minimum of 15 minutes on stage, and a moderator provides continuity.

This arrangement yields 8 different combinations of 3 panelists during the hour. When planning this, think about how those different combinations will yield 8 different conversation topics, though there is only 5 minutes for most.

Notice that the panelists in the 2 and 9 spots will be on stage for 20 minutes, while the panelists in the 3 and 8 spots will be on stage for 25 minutes. Similarly, conversation 1 and 8 are each 15 minutes long.

A suggested playful tweak from John Durant: make it circular, with the first speaker actually leaving after only 5 minutes, and then coming back on for the last 10 minutes, etc.

This was originally used to map out a plenary session for the 2015 International Public Science Events Conference.

See this related resource for an updated version of this called “Moderator Stage Right.”

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Planning tool for “rolling panel” or “cascading conversation” design
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