Guide for Discussion Hosts and Note-Takers

Guide for Discussion Hosts and Note-Takers

Thank you for making this important contribution to the community of corporate leaders who are working outside the core, with startups. 

The agenda, including the day and title for your session, can be found here. Please know that you are fully invited to the entire program – you’ll be receiving participant messages and we hope you’ll come for everything! Participant details are here

How to be a Discussion Host

CAF events are different from a typical conference in that there are no speakers, only discussion hosts. You were selected as a discussion host because your lens on the world is compelling given the questions, challenges and opportunities that CAF members are seeing right now.  

During your key hour, your job is simply to provoke an interesting conversation. Your active participation comes in four moments:

  1. Immediately at the start of the discussion period (10:30 Pacific time, 1:30 Eastern, 7:30 CET): You and your two fellow discussion hosts will each give a sentence or two to describe your kickoff.  Attendees then “vote with their feet” on which discussion host to follow.  
  2. You’ll move to a pre-designated discussion area, and kick off your conversation with 5 (at most 10) minutes in which you’ll share a story, a framework, a puzzle, a question, a challenge, a victory — whatever you see is most likely to support a great conversation. I’m happy to help you craft this.  
  3. You’ll participate in the conversation, and if necessary, provide just a little bit of light facilitation. You’ll have a volunteer note-taker with you, and they’ll also have the light facilitation guidance.  This will last about 30 min.
  4. In the last 15 minutes, the group will identify key themes to share, and one group member to share them. This may or may not be you.
Start time End time Moment in the hour What's happening
10:30am Pacific/1:30 pm
Eastern/7:30 pm CET
10:35/1:35/7:35 Sharply on the 30-minute mark. Discussion hosts each give
one or two sentences about how
they plan to kick off the conversation.
10:35/1:35/7:35 ~10:45/1:45/7:45 After five minutes Discussion hosts and interested
participants arrive to the small group area
(this should take just a few seconds).
Discussion host kicks off the conversation
in 5-10 minutes
~10:45/11:45/7:45 11:15/2:15/8:15 After fifteen minutes, at the most Discussion host completes their kickoff
and turns the conversation over to the group.
Host and note taker may provide light
facilitation if needed.
11:15/2:15/8:15 11:30/2:30/8:30 After 45 minutes Group turns their attention to deciding
what to share back, and chooses a spokesperson
11:30/2:30/8:30 After one hour Discussion is complete. Group returns to
the central area to Lock In the Learning
  1. Tell your story!  Use your 5-10 minute kickoff to share something that really matters to you.
  2. Let the conversation unfold organically — Your participant’s stories, questions, and ideas are the treasure you’ll bring back to the full group.
  3. Include everyone to make sure all of the treasure emerges.  
  4. If nobody’s speaking, don’t worry. Practice “wait time.” — count a slow 5 before you speak next, to create room for a measured thinker to enter the conversation 
  5. Watch facial expressions. Invite thoughtful or eager faces: “Amanda — you look quizzical, what are you wondering about?”
  6. Advanced technique: Invite 3-5 minutes of silence for everyone to jot their thoughts down, perhaps on a sticky note. Ask the quietest person to share their thoughts first. 
  7. Advanced technique: Speedy thinkers sometimes need a reminder to make room. Use a gentle hand gesture and/or request to create a gap for a more measured thinker. “Diana, just a moment, I see Grace has something to share.”
  8. Advanced technique: Use the chat for simultaneous conversation threads.

How to Reach Us

If things ever get uncomfortable in any way, defer to the CAF team: Diana & Grace. We’ll be circulating and will be available through platform chat and SMS.

Light Facilitation

A few tips on creating a great conversation:

Prior to the event, please contact Diana ( with any questions, thoughts or requests. During the event, you can text Diana (408-504-1947) or Grace (408-833-8365).

We’ll make sure this information is easily available in the room on the day. Looking forward to a great experience with you!