Tips for a successful ProductCamp

BarCamp is an international network of user-generated conferences primarily focused around technology and the web. They are open, participatory workshop-events, the content of which is provided by participants. [BarCamp on Wikipedia]

ProductCamp Berlin follows exactly this “unconference” format: there is no predefined agenda, until you, the participants make the agenda during the first phase of the event.

I want to host a session: what do I need to keep in mind?

1. Types of sessions

With this “unconference” format, there is no predefined structure for the sessions. It can be a short presentation followed by a Q&A and discussion, it can be a moderated chat about a topic, it can be whatever you like it to be. In any case, if you want to host a session, keep reading.

2. Session planning

The morning of the event, all the participants who want to host a session will pitch their topic to all the other participants. Prepare a short pitch for your session, make it interesting and catchy but at the same time make sure the topic is clear to the audience.

3. Preparation

Once your session ends up on the board, it’s on the agenda, so be prepared to make it awesome. If you plan on showing some slides, bring your laptop: in the session rooms, there will be projectors you can use. Even if it’s a less structured session, prepare a 5-10 minutes introduction to the topic and then open up the discussion. If it helps you, bring some notes on the points you want to touch, but be open for the discussion to steer towards an unexpected direction.

4. Documentation

It’s encouraged to document the session. Take some notes – or even better, ask someone else in the group to take notes. Nothing fancy, some bullet points on a whiteboard or flipchart will do. Then take photos and share them with the group and send them to the organisers later who will put them on Flickr and collect it all in a blog post.

5. Law of two feet

If someone leaves the session while you are presenting or in the middle of the discussion, don’t be upset, it can happen. Maybe they expected something different or they figure out the topic is not what they had in mind. Carry on with the session. While some people may leave, some other people may come in and stay.

5. More info needed?

Here are a few links about holding a barcamp session:

I am only attending…

At ProductCamp everybody contributes to the success of the event. Even if you don’t plan on leading a session, you can still be an active participant. Find on the board the sessions that you find interesting and where you can bring and share your experience, go there and join the discussion.

Feel free to get up and leave a session if you figure out you’re not interested. Maybe you had different expectations on the topic or the way of presenting it, or the discussion diverges from the topic. It’s ok to walk away, nobody will get offended.

In addition to joining the sessions, there are other ways to make ProductCamp a success, for yourself and for the other attendees. Go meet new people, exchange ideas and ways of working. Share lunch or coffee with some other campers, have a chat with some of the sponsors we will have on site. If you are considering a career change, take a look at our job board. And at the end of the day, after we close the event, stay a bit longer and help with cleaning up, re-arranging tables and chairs, etc.

We are looking forward to meeting you all at ProductCamp Berlin!