Business of Software Conference USA 2019 Unconference Sessions

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Business of Software Conference USA 2019 Unconference Sessions

One important element of Business of Software Conference are the Monday afternoon breakout sessions. They help people meet each other, offer a break from the talks and a chance to do something different. We have had speed networking sessions and competitive task completion exercises in the past. This year, we want to do something a little different and give people the opportunity to discuss things they care about with others in small, informal groups – our Unconference Sessions.

This is how they will work

The Breakout Unconference Sessions will take place on Monday afternoon at Business of Software Conference USA. They offer our attendees an opportunity to decide on discussion topics, spend time with people with similar interests and participate in a lightly moderated problem-solving session on a subject they care about.

The main goal for a Breakout Unconference Session is to connect participants, surface their challenges related to the topic and then prioritize conversation and help over presentation. The content for a session is not delivered by a leader, the leader acts to facilitate discussion and problem solving in the group. Each participant has an important role.

Choosing the Topics

Suggestions for Breakout Unconference Sessions can be suggested in the Slack channel prior to the event but the sessions evolve on site. Anyone can propose a topic they would like to discuss. Others can then register their interest in taking part, either because they share an interest or a level of expertise on the subject.

  • Topics should be specific – ‘SaaS marketing for growth stage B2B’ rather than ‘Marketing
  • Other attendees can then indicate their interest in participating either to learn or to share their experiences by using Post It notes.

“I would like to take part in this. I’m just starting to do it. Would love some guidance.”

“I just spent the last 3 years trying to work this out for us. Happy to share my mistakes at X company.”

Organization

At the end of first break on Monday morning, when it is clear what the general interest is for each session, space will be allocated to accommodate the number of people taking part. Some sessions may be cut down if there are too many participants, others dropped if interest is limited.

The sessions and space allocated will be announced at the afternoon break. Attendees get to grab a cup of coffee and a snack then go to their session.

Format

All of the sessions will be AV free. No Powerpoint presentations here.

Open and discussion led. Each session will begin with a facilitator asking the participants to introduce themselves and their interest in the topic. Simply, name, company and a short statement.

“I’m Mark from Business of Software and I would like to understand how to run great conferences.”

“I’m Mark from Business of Software and would be happy to share some of my experience about what it takes to run great conferences.”

Fear of public speaking, questioning, and debating are common issues in tech. Good facilitators create a natural atmosphere of mutual respect and trust.

Outcomes

Each participant should leave with some connections to people with a common interest and if their problem is not solved, they should have a sense that they know how to tackle it more effectively, either by talking further with other participants, following up with some specific actions.

Participants should feel they know a few other attendees they can talk to at the event.


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