"> Tips for Creating & Running Great Sessions | Open Knowledge Festival 2014

Tips for Creating & Running Great Sessions

Here are some tips to help you build and facilitate an impactful, insightful and amazing session.

Things to think about when proposing a session for OKFestival:

  • Who is your audience? Is this session for a particular group only or is attendance by particular groups encouraged?

  • Does the proposal advance the overall goal of the event?

  • Does the proposal offer concrete value to participants via its proposed outcome?

  • Is the proposal interactive or creative? Hint: slides and lectures are strongly discouraged. Have a look at the formats ideas in this page!

  • Does the proposal value and build on OKFestival's principles of inclusivity and diversity?

  • Could my session idea work across topics?

Working across fields of open knowledge is a great way to work with others in our community, and can be incredibly productive in creating new collaborations and ideas. For example, open hardware may work well with open development, open source software with business, open culture with open government and whatever else your creative juices can imagine. Working together towards a shared goal only strengthens our progress and expertise.

  • If so, could I team up with other folks to co-facilitate the session?

We'd recommend that if you think this could work for you, you use our new mailing list set up specifically for this purpose to seek out others who are interested in posting similar proposals or whose proposals in another field would work well in conjunction with yours. Teaming up allows us to have more of you facilitate sessions, while working together will hopefully create more diverse, interesting and engaging sessions for your participants. Together, we’re stronger!

Strategic tips about facilitation and setting (and keeping) the tone

  • Share ownership of the session, creating opportunities for participants-to-be to share their ideas about, and co-create, the session before the event

  • Break down complex ideas, ensuring you make them accessible and exciting

  • Value the expertise and input of people most impacted by any given problem in solving that problem

  • Offer tangible resources, give concrete value to participants, identify strategic next steps

  • Rely more on interaction than presentation – make sure to identify co-facilitators in the group who can help you to build the group knowledge created in the session

  • If your session requires a presentation, structure it well and keep it short. Follow it with well-facilitated group discussion / work

  • Maintain the energy in the room through strong and assured facilitation

  • Allow participants to jump in, build their confidence and help them shift from learner to coach

  • The most engaging sessions happen in groups of up to 25-30 people. If you have more than 25-30 participants in the room, do try to have co-facilitators who can break the crowd up into smaller groups run the session with you

  • If you want to contact your participants with a follow-up message after the session, make sure to ask for their email addresses – do explain the reason for collecting their email address and ensure they feel comfortable sharing them

These tips and tricks have been inspired by the terrific work of Aspiration (see their paper Creating Participatory Events) and Allied Media Conference. May their force be with us!


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