Group getting too large!

Posted by Continuity of Life on Oct. 18, 2014, 10:43 p.m. 6 comments

Our Death Cafe today had 40 people even though we had 2 events this month to try and accommodate! I have found that smaller is better as far as intimacy. Question, what do I do as a facilitator to keep the ball rolling and growing but make sure everyone attending leaves fulfilled? Now a few participants are complaining that the conversation did not go their way! Do I add more time to the event, break into groups (space is small) be firmer with RSVP at a certain number??? 


Denver Death Cafe

I hear exactly what you are saying! I have tried splitting up into groups and that is when I get complaints. We average 30 attendees and keep it as one big discussion. Some gatherings have had 40 - 50 attendees then I split it into groups. Here's what I'm going to try next time - groups of 4-6 and every 5 minutes I will ring a bell to ask the groups to change topics. It seems in the smaller groups one person hogs the conversation and/or they get stuck discussing one topic. Also, I am going to hover over the groups for a few minutes rather than trying to facilitate one of the small groups. Hope that helps and just know that we are all learning as we go along! - Anita Larson, Denver Death Cafe

Posted by Anita Larson

Still inspiring...although...

Mark & Lori, I attended the Oct 18th Death Café and also felt it wasn't as rich in discussion as the September event...for two reasons: conversation moved away from the core topic (twice) and a few participants occupied the conversation. As a facilitator myself, I know the challenges you each face, especially with such a diverse group. I recommend that you extend to two hours and offer two additional guidelines: 1. Allow the last 30 minutes for everyone who hasn't already spoken, to speak . You did this in September and it was GREAT. 2. Allow for an announcement period - maybe 5-10 minutes for those who wish to share information related to the topic - names of doctors, attorneys, organizations, books, etc. that are also in this space. And...if announcements are at the end, those interested can grab them on the way out. BTW...looking forward to November's discussion. Pam Schierberg

Posted by Pam Schierberg


I have facilitated (hosted) 10 death cafes and have consistently received very high marks on my evaluations. My optimal group size is 10-12. I co-hosted one that was outside and we broke into about 5 groups of 4 people to a table. This venue didn't work as well for me, but some attendees really enjoyed being outside. I like being inside a building. Also, if working with a larger, sometimes older group of people, keep in mind that sometimes more mature individuals have hearing challenges. People will definitely get more out of the event if they can hear everything that is said.

Posted by deathcafenv


In response to the other comment- Please do NOT allow promotional announcements. The guidelines stipulate that Death Cafe has no agenda and no ideology. Are you doing small groups? Groups of 4 with 3 rotations should give everyone an opportunity to talk. Facilitation takes up talking time...make sure you are not over-facilitating. I rotate among the groups and listen in and will plan my rotations based on observations. Feel free to get in touch if you want to talk more.

Posted by Lizzy Miles (Columbus Death Cafe)

Death Cafe San Diego

We have been hosting Death Cafes since May 2013. We always have kept the numbers anywhere from 20-35. There was one Death Cafe where people showed up who had not rsvp and the Cafe was already full. The host, I was a guest that time, decided to ask the people to come to the next one and they left. I have been coached by several hosts to not let the numbers get to big for the very reason that you are experiencing. Not sure by "conversation did not go their way" what you mean. We have always asked for rsvp and are pretty solid with it. By the way our Death Cafes are two hours. Best of luck! Karen

Posted by deathcafesandiego

We limit our cafes to 25 people who RSVP. Normally we have around 20. We just finished our 17th one today. We always do small groups of 4-5 per table. We generally give out one question to get things rolling and then step back and do not interfere after that. I like the idea that I am a "host" and not a "facilitator." The goal is not to control the conversation with "topics" or changing questions periodically. Step back and let it happen: it will. Above all, have fun! Mark with Death Café Atlanta.

Posted by Mark (Atlanta, GA)

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