An unconference is a type of gathering that is designed to enable rapid exchange of information and ideas, provide a space for conversations that matter and foster the development of collaborative relationships.
It is built on the premise that:
The expertise of the people in the audience is greater than the sum of expertise of the people on stage.
The format is based on Open Space Technologies where participants set the agenda, chose the topics and nominate themselves as speakers or session facilitators on the day.
As part of the program for an unconference, a marketplace will be opened for participants to step forward and invite others to join them in sessions where they might do something like the following:
- present insights and learnings they believe may be beneficial to other participants doing similar work
- share their idea for a project, campaign or enterprise they are working on in search of ideas, resources or partners to help make it happen
- chair a discussion on current developments, opportunities and challenges in their field or sector
- host a facilitated session to explore aspects of a particular issue or answer a certain question (eg. How might we work better together?)
- lead a workshop to teach others a particular framework, methodology or skill that’s helped them succeed in the work that they do
- run a planning session for an event, project or campaign with other stakeholders or potential partners
The focus is on having engaging, participatory, collaborative conversations. Some people may come with small presentations prepared, others might come up with the idea (or meet a co-presenter) on the day.
Sessions usually run from 30 minutes to an hour each depending on the size of the program. Five to six sessions may be run concurrently in different spaces at the same venue.
The unconference format provides the best opportunity for attendees to share ideas, learn form one another, connect and discover opportunities to collaborate.