Over the weekend, I had the unique experience of seeing my reflection…or my antithesis…or my something-opposite. I attended and spoke at slideshare.net's PresentationCamp, billed as an "unconference." The primary idea behind an unconference is that there is no one central organizing body determining content, but rather a free-flowing dialogue at the center of decision-making.
For an anal-retentive conference host, this took a bit of getting used to—we sat around for the first hour, kicking around ideas for seminars and discussion groups, using up a lot of dry-erase markers and going through many post-its. "Couldn't this have been done in advance?" I wondered to myself on several occasions.
Yes, of course it could…but then it would have been a different event. It would have been more like PowerPoint Live, and I had to see past my own biases to appreciate the value of this event. Everyone had a say in building the content and the approximately 65 people who attended felt completely engaged in the process.
I did an hour on practical makeovers of slide design and message that anyone could undertake, irrespective of design background. Other topics ranged from mind-mapping to storytelling, to embracing the back channel of Twitter during a presentation.
To answer the question in my headline, no, I'm not qualified be become an unhost. My need to organize and prepare would disqualify me. Nonetheless, the idea of spending a Saturday with a group of colleagues, collectively determining topics of conversation, is attractive and compelling.
Watch for a presentation camp to be formed in a city near you…