The “Unconference” and What it Means for Your Next Business Event

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A new trend is spreading across business events, something known as the “unconference.” It’s a new way of thinking about business events, and it may change the way you plan your meetings forever…especially if your attendees are already picking up on the trend. Here’s what you need to know about the unconference, and how it’s changing new business events.

Unconference is an Idea, Not a Plan

There is no set definition for an unconference. It wasn’t pre-packaged by a marketing team or guru – at least, not at first. Unconferences can mean different things to different people. The basic purpose of an unconference is to look at how the business usually does business events, and then do something different, purposefully avoiding the schedules and activities of the past. On a deeper level, unconferences are about changing the way people think about these types of events, moving to a more streamlined, adaptable perspective. As you can imagine, this makes them quite popular with younger professionals.

The Focus is on Shorter Meetings with Fewer Essentials

One of the biggest features of the unconference is the idea that business events need to be shorter – that they have become too crowded with things that companies assume are required, but really aren’t. That big venue space? Maybe attendees are okay with a small space. The dining options? Maybe people would rather just have on-the-go snacks. Sponsors? Maybe the event doesn’t really need sponsors if other things are scaled back. Ditto to presentations, seating – and many other “necessary” components.

There’s Emphasis on Attendee Decision Making

Attendee decision-making is an important part of most unconferences – some would say that it’s really the whole point. This means a lot more polling attendees for ideas, topics, formats and activities. It can also mean allowing attendees to gravitate toward whatever activity or area they want, whenever they want, essentially creating little training opportunities through the venue and letting people choose. There’s frequent tie-in with social media, forums, and online discussion as well.

It’s Growing More Popular

At first, the unconference appeared to be primarily a way to take a break from regular conferences for just one event – and it can still be used that way. However, its popularity has grown and now a growing number of traditional conferences are including unconference features as a way to attract more people or saving on costs. If you haven’t seen the signs in your industry, you may soon start.

Venues are Also Affected

With its focus on wireless communications, different learning zones, and fewer components, venue needs for unconferences are different, too. The focus is less on space and more on what attendees can do for themselves, especially when it comes to electronics. A smaller, simpler venue can easily handle an unconference – which is also part of the point. Restaurants and museums have both been known to be successful unconference settings!

For more information on unconference features and how they can help your next business event (or perhaps what features you should avoid, based on your goals), contact Fourth Wall Events!

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