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Special - Spatial Planning and Energy for Communities in All Landscapes Town and Country Planning Association European Union

Knowledge Pool

Round table


Conflict of interest, collaboration work


At a round table representatives of the interest groups affected by a project discuss a material issue on a level footing and try to find a common solution.
Unlike other forms of development, the Roundtable Method encourages each person to contribute to the discussion in a collaborative environment, "a roundtable setting."

Key qualities of a round table discussion:

  • Informal
  • Emphasis on discussion
  • Audience plays an active role


  • for clarifying controversial questions with people representing diverging interest groups, when conflicts are already coming to the surface
Expiry of the method

There is no standard procedure for a round table. The essential ingredients are impartial facilitators, keeping minutes of the discussion, and having each group represented by the same number of persons entitled to vote, regardless of their actual / political strength.

Sample structure for a round table discussion:

  1. Introduction: who you are, why you’re here.
  2. Participant Introduction: name, organization, their interest/expectations for the round table discussion topic
  3. Topic Introduction: what will you be speaking about, tell the participants what you will tell them during your presentation
  4. Main points: communicate the main ideas and sub-ideas
  5. Discussion: this will be the bulk of the time and is discussed in more detail below
  6. Review: tell the table what you’ve just covered, summaries main points
  7. Conclusion: thank participants for attending and engaging in the discussion, let them know if you will follow-up and state when the next meeting will take place.

1 day to 1 several months

  • Representatives of interest groups, experts, politicians, administrators
  • Suitable for medium-sized (20 to 30 people) as well as for large groups (30 to several hundred people)
Prerequisite for success
  • Representation of all interests
  • Everyone should be willing to work on making decisions by consensus under the guidance of a moderator
  • Acceptance of the round table’s rules
  • Impartiality of the moderator
  • Stay focused on the Principle
  • Duplicate if possible
Required materials
  • Round tables with chairs for work and preparation rounds
  • Transcripting material (laptop, paper, pens…)
  • Flip Charts for collecting ideas and results in a graphic manner
Principles, relevant parameters to be considered
  • For a round table to work well and produce binding results, all the groups of stakeholders affected by the issue should be represented.
  • A round table can perfectly well be used to tackle controversial issues, but is unsuitable for conflicts that have got bogged down; in such cases mediation produces better results.