Adam S. Brooks

technologist / geek . entrepreneur . marketer . presenter / speaker . developer . consultant . innovator . educator . community advocate . author .

App Making Workshop coming to Charlotte #CLT

App Making Workshop coming to #CLT. Get up to speed on how to design and market successful #apps on the App Store.

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Pitching and Voting on Sessions at BarCamp Charlotte 5

BarCamp Charlotte V

BarCamp Charlotte V lands on April 16th of 2011

One of the great advantages of the BarCamp unconference model is that a majority of the event content, activities and sessions are not predetermined. Rather than a well sculpted / thoroughly planned event, BarCamp allows for a more loose-limbed and democratic-style process that results in an event which really caters to the community of attendees.

Here is basically how it all works –

  1. Attendees gather at the event. This year’s event starts at 8am.
  2. The BarCamp event MC will request that attendees stand and make a 30 second “pitch” for their presentation, topic, talk, activity, etc.
  3. Attendees make their brief pitch to the audience. This is your chance to tell the attendees the basics of your session including the who, what, and why they should vote for your session.
  4. A BarCamp event volunteer will write a session title on a large sheet of paper and post it up for attendees to see.
  5. Steps #3 and #4 repeat as new presenters and topics are introduced. From prior events, it seems typical to have 20-35 pitches.
  6. Once all sessions have been introduced and posted, attendees are provided with pens or markers and asked to mark a single line on the sessions that they are likely to attend. Generally, we recommend that attendees not vote for more than 5 sessions.
  7. After the wave of attendee voting has concluded, BarCamp volunteers tally up the votes. The sessions with the most votes are arranged into appropriate time slots and rooms are assigned.
  8. Attendees leave from the meeting place and gather in the room(s) assigned to the corresponding session(s) that they wish to attend.

If many engineers and IT geeks attend, more sessions may take a technical spin. If more public relations professionals attend, attendees may see more marketing and PR topics pitched. The “what’s hot” is flexible and immediately steered by the event attendees. Fun stuff!

During BarCamp Charlotte, the 1st round of sessions generally end around lunch time and there’s a community feast. This lunch feast is provided by the generous support of local businesses and contributors (show ’em some love). In some cases, there are also paid options available (FYI). After lunch, the event resumes.

Now we get to a point of discussion and ultimately the reason why I decided to write this long-winded piece. Historically, we’ve handled the after lunch process by repeating the gathering, pitching, and voting. On the positive side, sessions that didn’t make during the first round of pitches can be tweaked and re-pitched. New topics emerge from those inspired by prior sessions and attendees who were perhaps reluctant in the beginning but have since warmed-up to barcamping. On the negative site, restarting the pitching process adds a large chunk of time to the event. At a prior BarCamp Charlotte, some felt that things may have run a bit too long. So, an idea has been introduced to request that all session pitches be made up-front in the morning and thus we would not repeat the pitching and voting process after lunch. This approach may save some time.

So, what do you think? As the MC for BarCamp Charlotte 5, I thought it best to take this question to the community. Certainly, those of you who have attended before will generally know the drill and we value your thoughts. Those of you who are new to barcamping, what are your thoughts? What is your preference?

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