For most people attending MeasureCamp, this will be their first experience of an unconference. It can be quite nerve inducing, not being quite sure what to expect, just knowing that it is going to be different. So to help, I thought I would share my experiences of how unconferences differ from a normal conference, having attended about five over the past few years.
Unconferences are traditionally free to attend. This is great in that it opens the event up to a wider range of people. Not everyone at MeasureCamp will be Digital Analysts which means there will be a wider pool of knowledge we can all learn from.
There is no monetary cost but it does require attendees to give up a day of their weekend. There will be no one there who is just looking to get out of work for the day, instead we will have a lot of people who are passionate about learning.
The purpose of an unconference is to share knowledge, not for companies to sell products or services to attendees. Yes we have sponsors, we have companies doing product demos, there will be a lot of agencies/consultancies in attendance. But the purpose of MeasureCamp is to share knowledge of Digital Analytics (including of the tools available to practitioners) and any overt selling or sales pitches will be frowned upon.
There are 11 of us who have been involved in organising MeasureCamp and a lot of hours have been put in. We get nothing out of this beyond hopefully starting something exciting. Not everything will run smoothly, some things won’t work at all but that is ok, it is an unconference.
Yep – not only are tickets free but you will also get free stuff. You will get a t-shirt (through Indigo Clothing who did an amazing job and should be considered for any London t-shirt printing requirements) when you enter and a schwag bag when you leave. There will be marketing materials from sponsors in the goody bag of course but hopefully a few nice items of schwag as well.
It was great, we were a sell out with all sponsors confirmed before a single speaker was announced. And nearly every speaker we have confirmed has been someone who already had a ticket. Everyone who attendees has valuable experiences and we encourage everyone to share their knowledge.
These are not sessions where the person at the front talks for 25 min, everyone politely listens and then there is a 5 min Q & A session at the end with everyone too shy to ask the first question. Be prepared for questions to be asked from the second slide. Some sessions will even be straight forward discussions with everyone in a circle.
A true unconference has no pre-planned sessions. At the start of the day, you have an empty board with rooms and timeslots. When the board is declared open, there is a mad rush to claim the best spots by sticking the title of your talk/discussion to the board. At two day unconferences, it is expected that every attendee will give a talk (my first one had two people attend and one was my friend…).
As the first Digital Analytics unconference, we recognise this can be intimidating so have pre-planned two thirds of sessions. But we still hope that some people will come along with a talk ready to go or have an idea for a session on the day – and that there is a bit of a rush to claim the remaining spots on the board.
We don’t have a caterer. There will be no one serving your food. It won’t be a finger food buffet or sandwiches. We are getting in dishes of pasta, salad platters, chicken kebabs and pizzas. Grab a dish, load it up and say hello to someone new.
MeasureCamp is not just about sharing knowledge, we want to build up the Digital Analytics community in the UK (plus the attendees from France, Spain, etc). So keep your name tags on and talk to someone new. Everyone there will have a story to tell and I can’t recommend highly enough to make the attempt to discover these stories.
I wouldn’t blame you if you are a bit scared/uncertain of what is going to happen. Look for the expression on my face before I kick it all off and you will know you are not alone… But an unconference is an amazing opportunity for some new experiences.
My first unconference was BarCamp5 London and I still have friends that I met there. I had amazing conversations with the German founder of MyMuesli, with a person who turned down the dragons at Dragons Den and with a famous London blogger (who will be at MeasureCamp). It is where I signed up to Twitter. I was blown away with the ideas in some of the talks, at the experiences and knowledge people were willing to freely share.
I have wanted for so long to bring this experience to the Digital Analytics community and it is finally only a few hours away. So come along with an open mind (and an empty stomach), be prepared for parts of the day to be a little chaotic and enjoy the adventure!