The aim of a World café is to create a discussion environment that feels like a café. World café can be conducted online or in a public space and is suitable for large groups of people (it has been done with groups of over 1,200 people) from a range of backgrounds. It provides an opportunity for people to share information and insights into complex issues.
A number of questions are prepared and placed on tables, either by using a tablecloth that can be written on, flip charts or large note pads. People can be allocated to a table, and given a set amount of time to respond to the question on that table or can choose a table to start on. People are encouraged to talk together as a whole table or to break into smaller groups to talk about specific topics of interest. They are then asked to move on to another table/question and to add to the responses made by previous groups. Drawing can also be used to capture issues and needs.
The number of rotations between tables depends on the time available. When the final rotation has occurred, bring everyone back together to allow the whole group an opportunity to connect to all of the themes or questions which were considered, understand the conversations that have taken place, identify priority themes and talk about further action.
World café is a powerful technique for creating shared understanding of key community issues.