Unconference 101: A Quick Guide to TCamp and Beyond


With TransparencyCamp less than three weeks away, it’s time to get serious about what it means to attend an unconference.

Unconferences are events run by participants. Attendees set the agenda for what will be discussed, lead the sessions and workshops that fill the schedule, and create an environment of innovation and productive discussion. It can be a bit hard to visualize how this all plays out before you’ve actually attended an open format event like this, so, to make things easier, we’ve pulled together some resources to help you get the most out of your TransparencyCamp experience — or any other open format event you attend.


Leading a Good Session

The best unconference sessions are led by people who see themselves as facilitating a conversation, not giving a presentation. Sure, you can start by sharing your experience, challenge, new idea or thesis, but remember to be inclusive of your attendees. Set clear goals at the top of your session, make sure all attendees introduce themselves, assign a notetaker, then let the conversation unfold.

A Note on the Importance of Notetaking

Most unconferences keep a wiki or other web page for notes. Be sure to use it! Assign a notetaker at the start of your session so folks outside the room (and the event) can benefit from your conversation and those in the room can keep track of the dialogue later. Every TransparencyCamp session has a notetaking page, which you will find on our website once the event starts.

Being a Good Attendee

Every attendee contributes to the environment and thought-leadership of an unconference. When you walk into a session, remember that you are a participant and not a member of the audience, so be sure to contribute your voice. Ask questions, raise ideas, be brave. If, however, you find that you are contributing a lot and the people around you are staying quiet, step back and give them space to speak. Listening is just as big a part of conversation as speaking.

The Key? Creativity + Comfort

Have fun. Be comfortable. Bring a power point, but go off script. Take your session to the park. (Literally.) Speak to strangers. Go to a session about something you know nothing about just to learn. Open your mind. Listen. Enjoy yourself.


For more about unconferences (and how to organize them), keep your eyes peeled for updates to the TransparencyCamp website where we’ll be rolling out more info as the date gets closer.

Still haven’t registered for TCamp? Let’s fix that.