Posted by: lalunablanca | October 28, 2008

BarCamp Tips

Here are some additional considerations for a BarCamp that are assembled from experiences this year at other camps.

Who’s Talking?
If you missed the intro and you don’t have a program in-hand, you can’t tweet out the speaker, look them up, nada.  Each person speaking should have a board (whiteboard is fine) with their name, their website, @twitter, and where they’re slide deck is going to be.  There’s nothing like taking notes like crazy to find out half way through that the deck is going to be available on Slideshare (include this info in the intro).

What’s the Hash#?
I believe you should keep the # on your tags for now. For BarCampMemphis, we’re going with #BCMem. In all rooms, put your hash up on the wall where people can see it and all be tagging the same for aggregation during and later.

Mince Meat Session Titles
Just like in “Don’t Make Me Think” regarding navigation links, don’t sacrifice clarity for edgy hipster titles to your sessions. It throws people off, and can frustrate them.

Get some signs or balloons (something) outdoors to get unfamiliar people parked and in the correct door. It can make make for happier attendees walking in the door.

noise Noise NOISE
If all is good, you’ve got an interesting session going on and people are trying to hear. Tape open noisy door latches (or consider rubber stopper the door).  The Law of Two Feet applies and people come and go. Quieter entrance/departures are appreciated.

No Sales Pitch
Be certain that all presenters know not to turn the presentation into a sales pitch. Attendees will not only frown the speaker, but also the organizers.  That said, be sure to thank your sponsors publicly and encourage attendees to patronize them.

30 minute sessions (that include Q&A) are too short. 10 minutes between sessions is nice. Consider 15 minutes in between morning sessions. This facilitates a number of things including connecting people. Try very hard not to stagger venue sessions. All sessions should start simultaneously. If you have 10 minute sessions, put 4 of them together to get that 45 min duration.

Designate a specific Lunch time. Try and offer a variety of foods and keep people at the venue (it helps foster your community).  Consider topic focused tables and a designated facilitator.  Ala ‘core conversations’ at SxSW but over lunch.

Helper/Volunteer Identification
T-Shirts, armbands, bandannas, or something to identify helper people is a nice touch.

Nurture the Networking
Your prize is to foster your community, and it can be hard to keep your eye on the prize when you start looking at attendance, speakers, swag, giveaways, sponsors. If it was all about learning and presentations, you could send everybody links to YouTube videos and SlideShare to be done with it.

In each session area there should be a volunteer that can assist the Speaker/Facilitator with things (drink, setup, intro, trolls, presenter rescue, time left signals). Let presenters know who these people are and why they’re there.

Beginners -vs- Advanced
Mentoring and sharing are key aspects of BarCamps. As time goes on, topically advanced users need more advanced content to quench their thirsty minds (lest they be bored and grumpy). It’s time to start labelling sessions as being either Introductory or Advanced.

Visit these great resources about “how to” BarCamp

Ten Steps to Organizing a BarCamp
Clever, Clever Girl

Advice for Planning a BarCamp
Unit Structures



  1. […] BarCamp Tips LaLunaBlanca […]

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