There are no hard and fast rules on how to lead discussions at
Texchange meetings. You might want to break the ice with a brief
one-minute introduction of yourself and what you do. After your
personal introduction, you should stress that we are not here
just to network, but to build alliances, friendships, and explore
business challenges and experiences.
At this point, you can ask the person to your right to give a
1-2 minute personal introduction, describing who they are and
what they do. When they’re finished, continue with the person
to their right and so on. At the end of the round, you can then
open the table to discussion of the night's topic. By this time
people will have a sense of who everyone is and will feel more
comfortable exchanging open and honest opinions with the group.
As a discussion leader, you need to ensure the topic moves along
the collective thought process as the group notes observations
and reaches conclusions. Try to be as objective as possible, guiding
the flow of conversation but not dominating it.
Here are a few tips:
1. Make sure to participate -- contributing ideas, information,
2. Do not initially state a strong position on the issue as it
might cut off input from other participants
3. Help the more reticent members first.
4. Listen and try to understand. Ask questions for clarification.
5. Steer the conversation to the topic under discussion. Bring
it back when it wanders.
6. Do not play Devil’s Advocate. Remember, you are looking for
sincerity and insight to build relationships.
7. Do not interrupt a speaker unless he or she is dominating the
It is also a good idea to ask everyone at your table to pass you
a business card. After the meeting, you can email all the attendees
at your table with everyone's contact information, ensuring that
all participants at the table have everyone else's contact information.