6:00 - Trivia Contest (Optional)


  • As people arrive and get settled, warm up the audience with a trivia contest.
  • Have a sign-in sheet available to collect names and email addresses.


6:12 - Brief Introduction by Moderator


  • Let the crowd mingle, then start once people are ready.
  • Circulate the sign-in sheet and remind people to add their names.
  • Encourage the audience to support the venue by ordering and tipping generously.
  • Quickly explain that the café format emphasizes open discussion and audience involvement.
  • Introduce the scientist with some fun personal information.


6:15 - NOVA scienceNOW video


  • Provide a brief introduction of the topic being discussed, if necessary.
  • If you are including a video clips, play it now.


6:20 - Presentation by guest scientist(s)


  • The presentation should be a conversation starter, not a comprehensive overview.
  • Remember: no podium, no PowerPoint, no technical jargon!
  • Incorporating some open-ended questions will help the audience be ready for the follow-up discussion.

6:30 - Take a Break


  • Some cafés take a 5–10 minute break and reconvene for a second round of group conversation

6:35 - Group discussion


  • The moderator should help keep the conversation lively, clear, and inclusive.
  • Distribute surveys or questionnaires before the evening ends.
  • When the moderator senses that people are losing interesting, he or she can end the evening with a simple “Thank you.”

6:50 - Schmoozing


  • Some of the most interesting conversations happen after the main discussion is over, so be prepared to stay a bit longer.
  • Mingle - so people can talk on a one-to-one basis with you and the scientist.