The usual format is for the evening’s talk is to begin at 7.30pm with a 30 - 40 minute ( or so..) presentation from the speaker, outlining the key issues they wish to discuss. There is then a brief comfort break (again normally just 10-15 minutes) when members can socialize, refresh their drinks, lobby the speaker etc. This is followed by a Question and Answer session, when members of the audience can quiz the speaker. This part of the evening usually lasts until 9.00pm. We tend to wind up around 9pm - though many people may wish to stay on for a while longer to talk.
This second part of the evening is hosted, primarily to take the pressure off the speaker; but also to ensure that all who wish to can get a chance to ask questions. Questions can be sympathetic or challenging. For the “audience etiquette”, see below.
A more standard lecture format would normally give the speaker up to an hour to state their case, and then leave a little time for questions. This revised format is therefore unusual; but we use it so that participants are provided with an opportunity for exceptionally lively discussion.
However, this is an intelligent, articulate, well-informed group of people with knowledge of their own. So, once or twice a season, we aim to provide information about other events which allow the members more opportunity to try different discussion types.
There are no membership rules as such for the Cafe Sci. In fact, there is no actual membership; people just come along. But there are things that work, when trying to run a discussion with speakers and an intelligent audience.
For example, the host for the evening has the task of trying to ensure that everyone who wishes to has a chance to ask a question. This may sometimes mean interrupting a very long question; or intercepting, if one questioner wants to ask many questions in a row.
Other than that, the “rules” are little more than common courtesy. Our speakers have gone out of their way, unpaid, to be here – some may have travelled some long distance – and surely deserve some respect, even if you wish to disagree with them. Turn off your phone.
Why a Cafe Scientifique may ask you for a contribution to costs
In Basingstoke Cafe Scientifique we do not pay fees to our speakers. However we will sometimes contribute towards speakers travel costs through our sponsors the Thames Valley Branch of the British Science Association. We are also fortunate to be sponsored by the owner of our venue (The Tea Bar), since we bring in custom on an otherwise quiet night. Therefore please do buy a drink and some of their delicious cakes, as it is our way of saying thanks...