Guide to hosting a session

Many people who visit a ProductCamp for the first time are intrigued by the unconference format. Can anyone really propose a session? The answer is yes.  If you have got something people want to listen to or talk about then it can get on the board. As long as you get enough votes, it’s in.  So how can you go about this for the first time? Follow our simple guide.

1) What do you want to talk about?

It sounds like an obvious question, but many people arrive with a vague idea, but no plan. As a session host you do not need to necessarily present (in fact many of the best sessions are often round tables or group discussions) but you should be prepared to facilitate.  Have a plan and communicate it to the people that show up.  Remember some people will wander in after you have started, and the mix of people will change as people join and leave – expect this and don’t be offended – roll with the punches!  The ProductCamp Utah site has a great Session Tips article.  My top tip? Keep it interactive! Reading from a PowerPoint deck is a sure way to clear a room!

2) Write a concise, positioned session proposal.

Attendees may have as many as 50 sessions to choose from – make sure yours stands out.  The best proposals include:

  • a catchy title people will remember
  • a concise and engaging description that describes what people will get out of it and who would benefit
  • a description of the format.

For example:

Usability Testing LIVE

Running good usability studies costs thousands of dollars and requires years of experience. So what are you going to do if you are on your own and broke? Well some usability testing is better than none. Come and see what you can achieve in 45 minutes with a laptop and a pen and paper! Workshop Format.

Not:

Pricing / Branding

Come and learn about these 2 important topics.

You can always email us (info-at-pmcnw.org) for help!

3) Test and Iterate

Just like a product, you want to get feedback before you hit the market. We have setup a session proposal forum to help you try out your ideas.  Throw your idea out there and get feedback.  Send your idea out to your network, ask for feedback from people at work.

Note : proposing your session on the site and getting voted does not guarantee you a spot – you still need to bring your idea on the day. Votes and feedback on the site are a general indicator of interest however.

4) Arrive early

Get your session written up and on the board early.  Every session has equal chance but you will have less competition for ‘impressions’ if you are one of the first on the board. Plus we have free breakfast and coffee so why not?

Pro Tip: if you need specific equipment for your session, such as a whiteboard or projector, note this on the session card. This makes it easier for our volunteers to setup the schedule.

5) You got voted in! What next?

Congratulations! Your session will be posted on the grid (right).  Your session will be assigned a room based on the number of votes you get and your room requirements. Go and check out your room as soon as you can – ideally before the first slot begins. If you need help with setup or equipment find a volunteer and and ask them – we will try our best.  You may wish to recruit a friend or co-worker to help you setup. When your timeslot comes around arrive a little early – if another session is running over, kindly suggest that they take their remaining conversation to the hallway, or one of the various open spaces at TechDwellers – time is of the essence! Once you begin – remember – keep it interactive! Ask questions of your audience and engage people.

6) A.B.P.

Always. Be. Pitching.

Throughout the day talk to people – tell them about your session – invite them to come along. Ask them what they would find useful. Talk to other hosts and get their feedback. Your goal is to create the most amount of value for the most amount of people! And have fun!

Good luck!

Jon White@jonwhite123

Guide to hosting a session