Not sure what to make of the invite to the Open Space session coming up at World Conference? It can be hard to imagine what it might be like if you haven’t been to one before. If you haven’t ‘tasted the format so to speak.
Well, to that end, here’s ‘one we prepared earlier’. It is a term you might be familiar with if you’ve ever watched a cooking show, but it’ll hopefully work here too. We’ll look at both the recipe for a good Open Space event, and what can come out of one.
The recipe (in its simplest form)
- An open space
- Some paper and some markers
- A few basic ground rules
For a closer look at this in action – and more about the ground rules (which may be very different than you expect) see this brief thread):
— Michael Ambjorn (@michaelambjorn) May 27, 2018
Cook up fresh ideas using Open Space
Let’s take a practical look at what can come out of an Open Space session – by looking at one we prepared earlier.
From the panoply of topics to choose from, a subset of the attendees opted for a focused conversation exploring:
How to make conferences more ‘Talk With than Talk At‘
What follows are from the shared notes from participants Mette, Lee, Jo, Mirjam, Maria, Jesper, Alistair + (hosts Martin, and me, Michael) – big thanks to all who contributed:
What did we learn through the discussion?
- What makes a great (and participative) conference.
- Barriers and how to overcome them.
[These insights are summarised and listed further down].
We also set out an action plan will help us make more conferences Talk-With rather than Talk-At. And we discussed who else might get involved over time, beyond the Open Space discussion: those who participate in – or plan conferences.
We also agreed some next steps and a call to action
- This is a Creative-Commons based project based on sharing insights to achieve change – including through this article. This means others can reuse/remix the output.
- If you find it useful, share it. If you have a different topic that you’re passionate about – turn up at the Open Space at World Conference and explore it with others! Or build on this one… be sure to let us know.
How did the group arrive at the above?
We used a format called Focused Conversation (or ORID amongst friends) to help the conversation flow – asking Objective, then Reflective, then Interpretive and finally Decisional questions. Et enabled us to cover a lot of territory in a very short time.
To warm up we shared experiences of conferences we’d been to, including critical elements that had help drive participation.
We then dug deeper – discussion both opportunities and barriers to participation in more detail.
Conference experiences – what’s good for participation / what is difficult?
- Active listening
- The use of multiple dynamics / approaches
- Marketplaces for ideas / concepts allowing movement – and immersion
- Technology (Slido and Mentimeter can work well)
- Panels sometimes = sequential monologues
- Too heavily stacked programmes
- Conferences driven by status rather than exchange
- Technology (death by PowerPoint and assorted tech SNAFUs)
Having mapped that out we started discussing what might be done…
Practical ideas for people who want to make conferences more Talk With than Talk At
We shared lots of ideas, here are the ones most relevant to those attending #IABC18 – ideas you can run with for your own conference or event.
For now though you can show your support of Talk With approaches by RTing/liking – because we want to make this post interactive too.
1) Provocation can work well – looking at a topic in new way – fires up the crowd for the break, sparking new conversations
A good keynote does that. Look out for these.
Don’t miss keynote speeches by best-selling author Seth Godin, futurist @AnabJain, and culture guru @RyanMcCarty at #IABC18. It’s not too late to register! Get the details and secure your spot today: https://t.co/Ht6rtEkxf5 pic.twitter.com/aPZcgso9d5
— IABC (@IABC) 29 May 2018
Ask an open ended question in advance
At #IABC18, I’m leading a panel called “99 problems but an app ain’t one” and I need your help. Tweet your biggest #internalcomms problem using the hashtag #99ICProblems to be included in the presentation and discussion pic.twitter.com/4auLG6IDX9
— Chuck Gose (@chuckgose) May 9, 2018
Survey the audience in advance
Here’s @StephenWelch11 in 7 of 11 capturing what’s different about #bushcraft4c – see you at #IABC18 in Montreal or check out the web site https://t.co/f8HIJvnK1f or take the survey https://t.co/zTX4hhzp1y https://t.co/saTY0qxGqL
— Mike Pounsford (@mikepounsford) 17 May 2018
Give participants home work / advance work
If you are attending the Strategic Forum @iabc #IABC18 , get ready for the pre-reading : out next week. In the meantime, here is an article by co-presenter @StephenWelch11 that talks about influencing skills, which we will be discussing with @casilda1https://t.co/GFbQHY96ip pic.twitter.com/O4YlH3uiot
— Carmen Spinoza (@CarmenSpinoza11) May 17, 2018
Foster cross-pollination / benign collision
Participate in the Open Space session – and don’t forget to sign up for Dine Around!
And whilst it is not officially on the World Conference programme, you could pick up on this idea from Jesper Andersen. All you need are the group of new friends you’ll meet in Montréal:
Host a #FAIL celebration
“At MeasureCamp in Copenhagen in 2017, we had a session called “Analytics Therapy”. In it, we sat in a circle and everyone had a beer (if they wanted one). We then went around the room and every person had to say something analytics-related they struggled with (maybe a client or a technical issue. If others shared that pain, they had to raise their beer and toast the speaker.
It was a lot of fun because it was very visible to everyone that the problems each of us thought we were alone with were actually very common problems – and that led to talk about how to fix them. Plus, we got to drink a lot of beer at the end of a long conference day :-)” – @startsnakken
Now you’ve seen what can happen when a group of people get together in an impromtu way. And had some fun too! Others from the group will undoubtedly share more of the ideas in the future through more articles and blogs, but for now: do you have a topic you’d like to explore? Come along to the Open Space session at #IABC18!
I wish I could be there. Be sure to let me know how you get on. I’m @michaelambjorn – and I am grateful to Mette, Lee, Jo, Mirjam, Maria, Jesper, Alistair and Martin without whom this article could not have been written.
A slightly edited version of this article first appeared iabc.com – and the cover image is courtesy of the #Eurocomm18 team.