Roundtables were judged using the same overall criteria as were used for evaluating paper submissions: Content, Structure, Originality, and Support. Particular attention was paid to whether roundtables followed the instructions given in the Roundtable Guidelines. Priority was given to those roundtables that included members from more than one chapter, and/or that covered the convention theme of "Borderlands and Enchantments" or the 2015 Common Reader.
Most of the roundtables fit well into one of the categories for which we solicited roundtable proposals. The most common problem reported by the roundtable evaluators were these:
- Proposal lacked details on engaging the audience in dialogue.
- Proposal lacked details showing that roundtable participants had the expertise/experience in the topic being discussed.
Fortunately, most of the roundtable proposals this year are very good, so we are looking forward to stimulating exchanges among the convention attendees.
Roundtable Tips from the Field
By Elizabeth Dangelantonio
Alph Xi Upsilon Chapter, Alfred University
So you've been invited to participate in a roundtable panel for the Sigma Tau Delta convention! Having now been a member of two different roundtables at previous conventions, I've 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. Facebook is a great tool for this. If not everyone is on Facebook, make sure you're all in an email thread so you can communicate with one another. My only caution about email is that not everyone is a dedicated emailer, and so you run the risk of not hearing back from people. I found Facebook to be better because my group could live chat with one another and with the messenger app on my phone, if I had an idea or a thought I could share it right away. If you are all from the same chapter, decide on how you will communicate and when and where you will meet.
- 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.
- Collect ideas. Have everyone contribute in some way. Even if it's someone volunteering to put together an outline of your presentation topics, make sure everyone can say they contributed in some way other than just agreeing with everyone else's ideas.
- Stay organized. The above-mentioned outline was a helpful tool for one of the roundtables, and we used it to keep track of which page numbers we'd be referencing. We also used it to mark what we'd each talk about during the presentation.
- Stay in contact. For one of my roundtables, one participant never replied to any emails or got in touch past the initial "Yes, I want to be part of this" communication. It wasn't until the day of the roundtable that we even met her, and she wasn't on the same page as the rest of us. That led to her making points that dismissed or refuted the ones the rest of us had agreed upon. 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.
You have a few months' worth of planning and preparation time and 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.
- 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:
- Relax. Think of it as a big discussion in a class, and keep it casual. Be involved and interested in what you're discussing.
- Contribute. If you agreed to be part of the roundtable and contributed to the planning, follow through by actually participating in the presentation. One of my groups had a member who was very active in the planning and pre-convention process, met with us before our presentation, and then said nothing during the actual roundtable.
- 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.
What all this boils down to is that a roundtable is a more extensive group project, and group projects are most successful when everyone participates and contributes throughout the entire process. From the planning stage to presenting, being an active and involved group member will make the experience more enjoyable for you and better for the group as a whole. Your Sigma Tau Delta convention experience will be heightened by a successful roundtable, and when it's done you can head to one of the guest speakers' readings or Bad Poetry Night for some more English major-type fun.