During the week of December 17, roundtable participants will be sent an email and asked to complete the participant confirmation form by January 15. The form will verify their intent to attend and present at the convention, so that we may begin tAccepted-Roundtableso plan the program.
Roundtable “Tips From the Field”
Originally written by Elizabeth Dangelantonio, class of 2015 and graduate from the
Alph Xi Upsilon Chapter, Alfred University; revised by Felicia Jean Steele, 2019 Convention Chair
You’ve been confirmed as a participant a roundtable panel for the Sigma Tau Delta convention! After having been a participant in two roundtables, Elizabeth Dangelantonio compiled this list of tips about how to have the best possible roundtable experience.
Before the convention:
- Get in touch with all the roundtable members, especially if you’re not all from the same chapter or don’t already know each other. In addition to making contact with one another, confirm how you’re going to talk to one another: do you all use Facebook? Do you want to put together a Group Chat? Make sure you know how you’re going to communicate and set some goals for when you’re going to have milestones done.
- Make certain everyone knows what you want to happen at the roundtable, the themes/ideas you want to discuss, and the basic gist of the topic. If there are common texts/readings everyone needs to be familiar with, be sure your group members have copies and are doing their homework. Make sure everyone on the roundtable has a copy of the original proposal that the convention evaluators read.
- Collect ideas and make sure everyone contributes. Someone needs to volunteer to put together an outline of your presentation topics, so that there is a place for everyone’s contribution to the panel. You don’t want to create a circumstance where one person’s role is just to agree with the other members of the roundtable.
- Stay organized. Elizabeth’s groups used an outline and determined it was a helpful tool. It also helped them to keep track of references and helped them to keep organized as they were presenting. You should also share a copy with your moderator.
- Stay in contact. For one of Elizabeth’s roundtables, one participant never replied to any emails or got in touch past the initial “Yes, I want to be part of this” communication. Don’t be that person—in this digital age it is so easy to send a simple, “Yes, I’m okay with this or that” email as a common courtesy.
- If you have requested A/V support, make sure that multiple copies of your presentation exist in multiple places so that you don’t have to worry about who has it or rely on a network connection to retrieve it. If you don’t have A/V support, make a handout that helps your audience participate in the conversation. Remember that is the goal of the roundtable: to create an open, engaging discussion, where the audience also participates.
You have a few months’ worth of planning and preparation time, but with classes, work, and everything else you have on your plate, it’s really easy to let your roundtable slide to the back burner. A weekly or even monthly check-up is a good way to make sure everyone stays on track.
At the convention:
- If you’re not from the same chapter/school—meet up. The hotel’s lounge area is great for this. You can also head to one another’s rooms and meet there. If you haven’t met in person before, it is important to do so because it’ll break the ice and make everyone in the group feel more comfortable together. That will lead to a more put-together, successful roundtable. The Abecedarians event can be a good first meeting point.
- Make sure everyone is still on the same page and has any material you might need, such as the text you’re discussing, a list of the main points, the outline agreed on earlier, etc.
- Visit the meeting room some time before your presentation so you can see how the space is set up. This way everyone also knows where the room is. Agree on a time to meet on the day of your presentation so no one is late.
During the roundtable:
- Think of it as a big discussion in a class, and keep it casual. Be involved and interested in what you’re discussing.
- If you agreed to be part of the roundtable and contributed to the planning, follow through by actually participating in the presentation.
- Don’t dominate the conversation. It’s a group presentation. Make sure you’re not talking over your group members.
- Have fun. You’re at a convention with a thousand fellow students who are just as passionate about words as you are—take advantage of the different minds, ask questions, and engage in friendly debate. Maybe you’ll hit it off and find someone to work with on a roundtable for next year.