Waiting for the first guests to arrive at a party is always agonising. Nervous glances at the clock as nibbles sit untouched. Glasses empty. Silence. Will anyone come?
At the EYC unConference, held on a glorious spring Saturday, the worry wasn’t so much would people come. But would participants dive into the process of setting the agenda for the day together. Or would people be stand-offish, shuffle awkwardly, avoid eye contact.
I didn’t have to worry. The empty agenda board was almost filled by 10.15 am, with five minutes to go until the first session. The first nine slots were taken, dismissing the rumour that kiwis can be shy about sitting in the first row.
The recipe worked: throw people together, with some priming, then turn it over to the participants. During the day I picked up on several comments about how people were effectively self-moderating the sessions. People were genuinely able to raise questions, queries and concerns.
When we held a casual wrap-up session at 3.50pm, energy levels were still high. The conversation flowed, and there was lots of good natured banter.
Our impromptu Wordle – co-created during the closing session to reflect what people had got out of the day – really demonstrated in my mind the good match between community, voluntary people and the unConference format. We’d achieved both a lot of sharing and participation.
It was obvious during the day that people also rose to our scene setting speaker Alexandra Lutyens’ challenge to have fun. Don’t take yourself too seriously she urged.
As the day closed, although weary from facilitating (and being a horn honking shepherd) I was already talking about organising a future event and more networking. Whatever the pre-event nerves, I’ve no qualms about being involved in another unConference.