Charity / Digital / Events

How a barcamp is better than a (badly managed) panel

In the last few months I’ve been to a badly managed panel and Barcampnfp – an unconference, to hear more about digital and the charity sector.

I preferred the unconference. Here’s why:

Meet new people V sit quietly and watch people

At a Barcampnfp you can meet new people with the same interests and needs as you, or someone completely different but inspiring, thanks to the informal nature, breakout times, and space to mingle.

Have a healthy debate v watch others debate

At a Barcampnfp debate and collaboration are actively encouraged during sessions, and in between them, rather than just taking place between a few panel members with little opportunity to contribute. Participation is encouraged, and attendees are relevant, experienced and/or opinionated. Being a curious bystander is fine, but you’ll be chatting away by the end of the day.

Specific conversations  V general conversations about a topic

At a panel, in order to appeal to everyone, conversations can be broad and vague. At a Barcampnfp sessions are decided that day depending on what people want to talk about and listen to, so can be as specific as people want. And if the conversation doesn’t interest you, it’s not rude to get up and leave.

Self-discipline V host

Without a very good host to manage a panel, the conversation can drift and go off topic. At a Barcampnfp, the audience is the host, and ensure that the conversation stays relevant to them and the session title.

On going learning V learning dead ends

Blogs before and after the event, live tweets, after event drinks, ongoing connections – the learning ever stops when you’ve been to a Barcampnfp. But I’ve been to many a panel, and never heard a thing since.

Knowledge share V hard sell

Although any event needs sponsors to get going, at some sponsored events means you’re always waiting for the inevitable hard sell. But you don’t need to run out of a Barcampnfp to dodge the salesman.

Elena Plaiter


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