Unconference: Room for Open Space
Conference and trade show organizers tend to be conservative in terms of content issues. I rarely see any major events breaking from the traditional model of pre-set agenda, presentations, 5 minutes q&a, maybe with an occasional “birds of a feather” session, or hospitality event. But I’ve tried to keep tabs on the Open Space Technology movement, commonly referred to as “unconference.” A couple of great sites are available to give you an overview on this meeting structure: Open Space World includes a great collection overview information and links about the Open Space community. Unconference.net is more of a first-person take on creating and facilitating unconference events. There’s must-read information here for anyone in the events business.
I have never organized nor participated in an event that was structured like this. I’ve spoken to people who have and they uniformly rave. However, these events are more closely associated with groups that have a specific purpose–like companies or tech standards groups. It would be hard to market an event that had no agenda, I think. We’re looking to incorporate an unconference approach into our hybrid event technology. If you’ve had experience with this format, I’d love to hear about it.