Out of your comfort zone … but perfectly safe.
The unconference weekend takes people away from their normal environment and into a bubble of creativity and ingenuity for 48 hours. As part of their attendance, all meals and even some free accommodation options are included so all they have to think about is sharing their passions with other outstanding attendees. Location is important, a good unconference will be held in a location that encourages attendees to stay on site around the clock. Many of the best conversations are spurred after hours, well outside scheduled sessions.
Upon arrival, attendees introduce themselves by stating three things they are most interested in or more passionate about, then give their name and current affiliations. They are then let loose upon a blank session grid where they can propose sessions on any topic that interests them. Sessions are on sticky notes, so they can be moved or merged easily.
Attendees are encouraged to apply “The Rule of Two Feet”, which states, “If for any reason at all, you’re in a session and you want to leave/go to another session/whatever, you are obligated to get up on your two feet and leave the session. Don’t feel obligated to stay in a session for the duration just because you’re there.” Attendees will find the sessions where their passions are most engaged, and where they can contribute the most.
The following days are made up of hour-long sessions in breakout rooms equipped with white boards and projectors. The person who proposed each session will moderate it and organise a volunteer to take notes. The unconference weekend may also include an all-attendee debate, panel quiz, or lightning-talk session.
And of course, there is always unstructured time for conversation, music, sports and games.
An unconference finishes with a facilitated closing session on the final afternoon, where attendees can share outcomes and suggestions with their peers.