Unconference sessions create an opportunity for conference attendees to share ideas, solve problems, and participate in discussions in different ways from those on the main stage of the conference.

At the unconference, you’ll interact closely with others from the community. Anyone can suggest and lead a session on a topic. Session formats vary. You can choose to organize a session around a presentation, a group discussion on a particular problem, or anything in between.

When is the unconference?

Unconference sessions take place in the second half of both days (Thursday and Friday) of the conference. The session times are in the unconference schedule. There’s a time and a table number for each session.

Where is the unconference?

To take part in the unconference, open the Sessions tab in Hopin (our conference platform). Read on for further details.

Scheduling a session

If you want to lead an unconf session, propose a topic and pick a time:

  • Look for an empty slot in the unconference signup sheet.
  • Add your unconference topic. There’s a time and a table number for each slot.

We will start promoting the unconference sessions early in the day on the days of the conference, so post your topic early if you want a particular time slot, or to make sure that there’s room.

Leading a session

Starting your session:

  • When it’s time for your unconference session to begin, go to Sessions in Hopin (our conference platform) and select the session that corresponds to your table number.
  • The previous unconference session will be in the same table. Let the attendees of the previous session know that their time is up, and your session will begin soon.
  • Once a group has entered your session, start the conversation!
  • When the unconference leader for the next session enters the session, finish up your discussion to make way for the next one.

There is no stage in an unconference, and sessions instead focus on small group interaction.

Whether you have a topic in mind, or a problem you would like to pose to the rest of the community, there is no wrong way to lead an unconference session. Good sessions emphasize group participation, however, so if you choose a format that includes a lot of your own ideas or material, be prepared to dial it back and use what you have as a starting point, not as the focal point.

Here are a few ideas for how to structure an unconf session, borrowed from Scott Berkun’s post on unconference sessions:

  • Group discussion - Pick a topic and facilitate a group discussion
  • The semi-talk - Use a short presentation to lead into a group discussion on a topic
  • Show and tell - Show off your latest project, a new tool, or anything else you are excited about
  • Presentation - Because sessions are meant to be small and inclusive, this is a difficult format to lead a session with. You cannot rely on slides, because you will not have a screen to present with. Feel free to present a longer talk, but expect more interaction from others joining the session and break often for questions and discussion.

Tips for your unconference session:

  • Avoid doing roundtable introductions. You might run out of time to actually start the conversation!
  • Start the session with a prompt: think of a question that you have about the topic of your unconference and ask it. The conversation typically works itself out after that. If there’s a lull, ask the group if anyone else has a question to ask.
  • Up to 20 people can join the session with audio and video, but more people may join your unconference through chat. Be sure to check the session chat regularly and include people there in the conversation.
  • Be on the lookout for people who aren’t joining in and invite them to speak. Don’t insist, if they make it clear they want to listen only.

Joining an unconference session

Here’s how to take part in an unconference session:

  • Starting Thursday afternoon, check the unconference schedule to see if there are any sessions you are interested in. New sessions are added all the time, so check back periodically.
  • At the time the session starts, go to the Sessions tab in Hopin (our unconference platform) and select the session with the table number that corresponds to the one in the unconference schedule.
  • The session leader will start the session when the group has gathered.