This post is a first - it's about what I do for a living! You might think from perusing my blog that I spend my life shopping... and I wish I did!
Instead I work in Internal Communications - and on Saturday I joined approximately 130 other internal communicators from different companies at The Big Yak, an event organised by the The IC Crowd (Rachel Miller Jenni Wheller and Dana Leeson.)
Now I've never been to an unconference before so I really didn't know what to expect. I turned up at the eBay offices in Richmond not knowing anyone and not sure what was going to happen.
And guess what. It was bloody brilliant.
The basic premise is that the content for the conference is decided on the day. People can volunteer to run sessions based on topics they want to talk about, and people gathered to share experiences or knowledge with the rest of the group.
Facilitator Benjamin Ellis (who was excellent) explained the rules...
"The only prerequisite for proposing a session is that you host it and enable people to participate"
"It's your agenda, because you make the agenda. Own it. Shape it. Share it."
"There are no attendees there are only contributors."
And really importantly...
"If you find yourself in a situation where you are neither learning nor contributing, use your feet to go somewhere productive."
So people posted topics for discussion and day just flew by. I have never been to an event where you are actively encouraged to tweet throughout - it wasn't rude if you were on your iPad while joining the discussion! A lot of my tweets can be found here.
Everybody played a part and I don't think anybody felt they couldn't contribute. Whether you were asking for advice or ideas, or sharing your own stories, it was great.
I moved from sessions about Measurement of internal comms (don't just do surveys!), to talking about line managers as communicators to the ever hot topic of social media in organisations. One of the key messages from the day? Don't underestimate bog media (a stolen term for the poster on the back of a toilet door!)
Sorry for the crap photos...
A huge thanks to Rachel, Jenni and Dana for a great day, and to everyone I met and hopefully keep in touch with in the future!
When can we do it again????