Facilitated Conversations

World Café™: Fact Sheet

World Café™ is an innovative yet simple methodology for hosting conversations about questions that matter. The World Café™ format is flexible and fosters collaborative dialogue, active engagement and constructive possibilities for action.

Design Principles

The following design principles form the basis of the pattern in the World Café™ process:

  • Set the context.
  • Create a hospitable space.
  • Explore questions that matter.
  • Encourage everyone’s contribution.
  • Connect diverse perspectives.
  • Listen together for patterns and insights.
  • Share collective discoveries.


World Café™ can be modified to meet a wide variety of needs. Specifics of context, numbers, purpose, location and other circumstances are factored into each event’s unique invitation, design and question choice. The following five components comprise the basic model.

Setting Create a “special” environment, most often modelled after a café, perhaps by using small round tables covered with a checkered tablecloth, butcher block paper, colored pens, a vase of flowers, or other conversational item. Place four chairs at each table.

Welcome and Introduction The host begins with a warm welcome and an introduction to the World Café™ process, setting the context and putting participants at ease.

Small Group Rounds The process begins with the first of three or more twenty-minute rounds of conversation for the small group seated around a table. At the end of the twenty minutes, each member of the group moves to a different new table. As an option, one person remains as the “table host” for the next round, who welcomes the next group and briefly fills them in on what happened in the previous round.

Questions Each round is prefaced with a question designed for the specific context and desired purpose of the session. The same questions can be used for more than one round, or they can be built upon each other to focus the conversation or guide its direction.

Harvest After the small groups (and/or in between rounds, as desired) individuals are invited to share insights or other results from their conversations with the rest of the large group. These results are presented visually in a variety of ways, most often using graphic recorders in the front of the room.

World Café™ is also supported by an online community where individuals can share their experiences and learn from each other.

Adapted from The World Café Presents ... Café to Go! A quick reference guide for putting conversations to work ... (The World Café, 2008), http://www.theworldcafe.com