A tabletop exercise consists of a number of participants that each have a vital role in ensuring the exercise is effective and engaging.

​Planning team ​

This group is charged with organizing the details of the tabletop exercise. An appropriate size for the group is 6 to 8 members. The section on planning a tabletop exercise outlines the roles and responsibilities of this group.

​Exercise director

​This person leads the planning team to ensure that team members stay on track with their assigned responsibilities. In addition, the exercise director “oversees all exercise functions during exercise conduct,” according to the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program. The exercise director along with an identified expert specific to the scenario can respond to questions during the exercise.


​A facilitator is responsible for guiding the flow of the exercise and discussions so that participants remain focused on the exercise objectives. The facilitator explains the process of the exercise and draws out information from the participants during discussions. In addition, the facilitator moderates discussions, although a separate moderator can be appointed if so desired. It is helpful if the facilitator has facilitation and relevant content expertise.


​This person is responsible for keeping the components of the meeting on time according to the agenda and advising the facilitator or participants when it’s time to move on.


​The number of “players,” otherwise known as participants, can range from 8 to 100. However, more players will require co-facilitators at a ratio of approximately 15 or 20:1.

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American Academy of Pediatrics