The World Cafe Community

Hosting Conversations about Questions that Matter

I was wondering how long you like conversations to be when you host or participate in a World Cafe? I think I have a fairly short attention span and like lots happening so I feel quite comfortable with fairly short conversations with quite a lot of changes of tables. In a recent World Cafe at my daughter's school (, the conversations were only 5-7 minutes and then another 5 minutes or so to find some key themes or ideas (during which the conversations continue). I think this was a bit quick, but it still worked well.

The disadvantage of a short time is that it is harder to create really deep conversations, but the advantage is that it is possible to explore more questions.

What do you find works well for you?

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Hi Graeme,

I'll start with the classic 'it depends' answer - depends on the purpose of the cafe, the harvest, the time available etc.... My general approach is to allow about 20 to 25 minutes for the round, then additional time to harvest. Not all rounds might have a harvest - again it depends. As host I'm listening and sensing the energy in the room. If at 20 minutes the round's energy feels 'done' then I'll shift to harvest. If the energy around the question/conversation is still flying, then I'll let it go a bit longer. I also like to think about the micro flow people are in and how 20 minutes can go by pretty fast:

... arrive at a new table, meet each other

... host welcomes them and shares highlights of what was just talked about

... new folks who arrived chime in with bit from their previous tables...

... flows into talking about the new question

Looking forward to hearing from others,


Thank you!!! This answer was exactly what I needed--I had a very similar question.

Thanks for that Amanda

I enjoy hearing about some of the practicalities of how people do things.


I'm the same, Graeme, it's how I stay in a learning mode of my practice! Keep sharing and keep asking... it benefits us all.


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