As a former hotelier, I’ve seen a number of meetings from start to finish. Some were more memorable than others as their attendees seemed to be more excited to be there.
Wikipedia offers the definition of ‘unconference’ as a meeting whereby the attendees determine the agenda. For those of us who like order, this ‘unplanned’ approach does cause concern. Here are some tips to navigate through these uncertain waters and allow your delegates to lead the way:
- If having a complete conference without an agenda seems unrealistic (and just a bit crazy!), begin with one session or perhaps one session per day whereby attendees create their own agenda in the room at that moment. The session will have a start and end time and everything else will ‘free flow’.
- Allow ideas and topics to rise from the group. At at first it may seem chaotic and unproductive because innovation is not a comfortable place. The experience will feel like you’re in ‘a space’ you’ve never been before which is precisely how it is supposed to feel.
- The food and beverage will always be important. It is what participants look forward to as everyone is curious to know what is being served. Having a choice is certainly a welcome option based on your budget and the culinary team you are working with.
- Collaboration and open discussion are the foundation to an unconference. While keynote speakers are typically thought leaders, perhaps break their time down to smaller ‘bite size’ portions and allow free time discussion around certain topic pillars. Having your audience ask questions before the presenter begins, may provide a guide to the information the audience really wants to cover.
- Change up the physical setup of the room. Just remember that comfort will never go out of style. Having a conference chair that folks will be comfortable in for many hours is key. The flex back chairs with the purse/bag hook on the back are becoming more available. There are now chairs that have a small shelf below which allows even more flexibility as there is a spot for their belongings which eliminates the need for a table.
Share with us your unconference ideas! We’d love to hear your successes and even ‘failures’ as we all learn together!
Senior Sales Manager, Global Accounts
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