How to lead a Bar Camp session

You don’t come to a Bar Camp to vacantly stare at some pointy headed, self-proclaimed expert rabbit on about what he or she thinks is important for you to know. You come to a Bar Camp to talk about what’s really important to you, and to learn and share and collaborate and connect.

The most important part in this is the session board.

First order of business is to choose your topic and get it up on the board. Either on the collaborative Wiki (available two weeks before the event), or on the day in meat space. Choose your topic title clearly, it should catch attention, but not be so obscure and ironic that nobody know what you’re on about. Put your name to it, as well.

Opening remarks. Be prepared to speak for 5 to 10 minutes on the subject, then open it up to the floor.
If it is a topic you have experience in, go over your background and a brief description of what you know. You can talk about any cool ongoing projects, or state a goal for where you’d like the conversation to go from there and open it up for discussion. If it’s a subject you would like to know more about, have 5 or 6 specific questions about the topic you’d like answers to.

Note taking. Having notes written on a white board or flip chart can really add to what attendees ultimately take from your session. Try to write notes up on the board yourself, or enlist another attendee to help. Especially important is a summary of your opening remarks. Pro-tip: space them out around the board so you can add discussion points near them as they get covered! Take a photo of the board or charts to add to the event wiki later.

As a session organiser, it’s important you understand the “Law of Two Feet” which states, “If there are two sessions at the same time that you want to attend, or a particular session isn’t engaging you, you can use your own two feet to move on. It’s your time.” This means that you want to engage attention and keep it early in a session. Some good sessions end up poorly attended, because they started out slow and by the time the good stuff happened, people had moved on.

Passionate contribution to the discussion is great, but be mindful to allow others to have their say as well. Avoid prolonged negative contributions and focus on constructive criticism and suggestions on how to move forward toward an improvement or solution.

“FrieNDA.” If you’re talking about some cool new development in your house, and you want to share with the developers at devmob, but not the entire world, make sure you mention this FIRST, and ask everyone to respectfully refrain from sharing beyond your session walls.