Mediations can vary a great deal depending upon the style of the mediator, attorneys and the nature of the case. Most mediation cases begin with a "joint session" where all of the parties, attorneys and insurance adjusters meet in one conference room with the mediator.
The mediator describes the process that will be followed and then each side has an opportunity to present their point of view of the case to the other side and the mediator. The parties themselves can speak to the other side if they choose. In cases in which there is extreme hostility between parties, such as cases of sexual abuse and exploitation, the joint session may be bypassed in order to protect the plaintiff.
If there is a joint session, when it is finished the parties and their attorneys go to separate rooms and the mediator shuffles back and forth from the rooms discussing important issues in the case and conveying settlement demands and offers.