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…

3 Responses

  1. I’ve attended three “camps” and I completely agree with you that they take some getting used to. And, honestly, they’ve been the most productive, useful conference experiences I’ve ever had.
    Great topic.

  2. I just heard about these this weekend. Apparently the SF Presentation Camp was a huge hit. I’m interested in seeing how many more pop up, especially if they’re on the east coast.

  3. It was my first camp too – and being a very structured person it took some time getting used to – but I liked it a lot! Looking forward to a new presentation camp – but also looking forward to the next structured and organized PPT Live! 😉