BarCamp

A meeting technique, where A. the agenda is built on the fly by the participants themselves B. sessions are run by the participants themselves and C. people choose themselves which session to attend.

 Useful for…

  • Discussing the subject really important to the audience
  • Free, engaged discussions
  • Energizing

Preparation

  • Open Space, ideally with some additional rooms for break-out groups
  • Whiteboards, Flipcharts, Chairs and Lounge Furniture
  • A timetable detailing slots of about an hour per session
  • A prepared outline of the slots and breaks on a meta-plan board
  • Post-its or Metaplan cards (for bigger audiences)

How it is done

  1. Everyone introduces oneself in a round robin with name and two words that describe her or him
  2. Everyone puts themes for sessions on meta-plan cards
  3. One after another, everyone presents his session idea in a minute and puts its card in any available slot (first come, first sold). Until all slots are filled. It is allowed to gang up with other session members to combine two or more sessions into one.
  4. Sessions start. Timekeeping by Facilitators needs to be strict
  5. A Reporting Out Session is recommended, for example by running a round of “Benefits & Concerns” or 124ALL.

Rules

  • 1st Rule: You do talk about BarCamp.
  • 2nd Rule: You do blog about BarCamp.
  • 3rd Rule: If you want to present, you must write your topic and name in a presentation slot.
  • 4th Rule: Only three word intros.
  • 5th Rule: As many presentations at a time as facilities allow for.
  • 6th Rule: No pre-scheduled presentations, no tourists.
  • 7th Rule: Presentations will go on as long as they have to or until they run into another presentation slot.
  • 8th Rule: If this is your first time at BarCamp, you HAVE to present. (Ok, you don’t really HAVE to, but try to find someone to present with, or at least ask questions and be an interactive participant.)

Why it works

Engagement is virtually guaranteed

Variations

  • Have a Sketch Note Artist document the sessions and show the work already doing the meeting via screens or print or even live, while sketching
  • Gather session material after the meeting, photographs of whiteboards etc. and distribute to participate
  • If you like to close with some decisions taken for a group, start-up with a bar camp and end up with a discussion and vote on alternatives
  • Create a wiki so session ideas can be shared already before the meeting. However, these are not binding. The BarCamp idea is to remain flexible until the day of the BarCamp

Origins

Silicon Valley, 2005, Start-up & Software Engineering Culture

Useful Links

Background info about BarCamps

 

Fun fact

The Rules are derived from the 1999 Movie “Fight Club” with Brad Pitt.