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The World Cafe is a method for creating a collaborative dialogue around questions that matter, a metaphor for enabling ‘table conversations’ that might happen within a diverse cafe. This dialogue tool is a great way of fostering interactions with both large and small groups. The cafe format is very flexible and adapts to many different purposes – information sharing, relationship building, deep reflection exploration, and action planning. 


  1. Seat 4-5 people at cafe-style tables or in conversation clusters.
  2. Set up progressive rounds of conversation, usually of 20-30 minutes each. Two options:
    • Ask one person to stay at the table as a “host” and invite other table members to move to other tables as ambassadors of ideas and insights.
    • All table members are encouraged to move to other tables as ambassadors of ideas and insights.
  3. Ask the table host or all participants (depending on the option selected in Step 3) to share key insights, questions, and ideas briefly to new table members, and then let folks move through the rounds of questions.
  4. After you’ve moved through the rounds, allow some time for a whole-group harvest of the conversations.


  • It is important to use powerful questions to set each round. Don’t overdo it – it is tempting to have multiple questions per round. Consider how long it takes to go through those questions.
  • Consider the objectives of the conversation. What do you hope to learn at the end of the World Cafe session? Use that as a goal to plan out the rounds and questions.
  • When planning a cafe, make sure to leave ample time for both moving through the rounds of questions and some type of whole-group harvest.
  • Consider using and adapting the following cafe etiquette guidelines:
    • Focus on what matters
    • Listen to understand
    • Contribute your thinking
    • Speak your mind and heart
    • Link and connect ideas
    • Listen together for themes, insights, and deeper questions
    • Play, Doodle, Draw – HAVE FUN!


Downloads & Links

World Cafe Etiquette
Cafe to Go
World Cafe: Dialogue for Large and Small Groups
World Cafe Guidelines from Art of Hosting