What is an UnConference?

Have you ever been to a conference and found the most valuable part of it was the bits where you were chatting over coffee with other cool people? That’s often where the most interesting interactions and most valuable ideas come from.

UnConferences have been described as the best coffee break ever.

It is designed to move away from the typical aspects of a conventional conference, such as sponsors, formal presentations from keynote speakers and the organisers setting the agenda.  It enables people to explore a wide range of topics and issues that are often not discussed at large conferences.
A key element of an UnConference is: the people who attend shape it. So, at the start of an UnConference, the welcome and introductions are really important for getting everyone chatting and sharing their thoughts. What follows next is the first session of the day where people take time to co-create the agenda.

With the agenda in place, people are encouraged to move around the different sessions throughout the day, as they need to. This is where only four rules for an UnConference apply:

  • Rule one: whoever shows up are the right people.
  • Rule two: whatever happens is the only thing that could have.
  • Rule three: whenever it starts is the right time.
  • The fourth and final rule is: it’s over when it’s over.

Having so much freedom allows creativity for generating ideas or coming up with solutions. I’ve seen it in action! Ideas start to grow, supportive challenge and debate take place, individuals with a passion for their work are given time and space to explore ideas, advice is offered and shared.

Towards the end of the day everyone is invited back together again, to share the highlights and the learning. This is another great opportunity for reflection, and to also hear about sessions you may not have attended.

If you are interested to hear more about UnConferences, find out where they happen or even arrange one for yourself then do get in touch with me. I’d be happy to tell you more.

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