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How to prepare for an Unconference: 5 tips to get you ready!

In a previous blog, we briefly outlined what an unconference is, how it works and what to expect from the African Fintech Unconference in particular.

As noted, the format creates space for peer-to-peer learning, collaboration and creativity. The content is proposed and provided by the participants, and at AFU is determined on the day of the event.

One of the key premises behind the unconference idea is that at any event, the sum of the expertise of the people in the audience is greater than the sum of the expertise of the people on stage. The African Fintech Unconference is about empowering participants to share their expertise and everyone is encouraged to propose and host a session.

With this in mind, in this blog, we explain more about how to go about convening or hosting a session with 5 handy tips.

Before the event

1. Think about the type of session and a topic ahead of time and be ready to pitch your ideas during the agenda-setting session.

The 2017 and 2018 post-event reports will give you a sense of the range of topics that participants have suggested. These include:

  • Do banks need fintech?

  • Growing pains on the path to scale

  • Working with Goliaths: Let’s talk partnerships

  • Managing regulation and legal grey areas in African fintech

  • Getting the most value from your Board

  • Investor workshop: Do’s and Don’ts from a fintech perspective

  • How to stay sane – an entrepreneur’s playbook

  • Consumer trust in digital financial services

Collaboration among participants who host sessions and even merging of sessions on similar topics are both encouraged. Co-hosting or merging a session might be particularly relevant if you are not comfortable with public speaking. If you host a session, the decision to merge with another session will always be yours to make.

Hosting a session

2. When you host a session, it is your responsibility to “hold the space” for your session. You hold the space by leading a discussion, by posing a “first question,” or by sharing information. Be the shepherd – stay visible, be as involved as necessary, be a beacon of sanity that guides the group.

You do not necessarily need to do preparation in order to host a session. If you have an idea during the unconference that you would like to discuss, call a session.

3. There is no ‘right way’ to lead a session.

However, keep in mind that the unconference format encourages interaction and discussion, rather than one-way dissemination of information from the session host.

4. Choose a format for your session that will help you achieve your vision.

Here are a few ideas about different session types to get you thinking about possibilities.

- A short presentation to get things started

5-15 minutes of prepared material/comments by the session leader followed by an interactive discussion.

- Group discussion

Someone identifies a topic they are interested in, others come to join the conversation and an interesting discussion happens.

- Hypothesis - Answer

You have a hypothesis you want to test and get input from the group.

- Little/Big question

You have a question you want to know the answer to, and you think others in the group could help you answer it. This format could also just be the seed of a conversation.

- Learn how to do X

If you’re inclined to teach, this can be simple and effective. Bring any equipment needed and make sure your plan enables you to teach 5 - 15 something at the same time.

After a session

5. Be ready to share notes from your session.

At the end of each day, we will have a ‘report back’ session, where someone from each unfconference session provides a short summary of the discussion and key takeaways from the session. As you will perhaps have to make some tough choices about which sessions to participate in, these summaries help provide insight into sessions that you or others missed. These summaries also provide content for the post-event report.

Please remember that The African Fintech Unconference Team is on hand to help. You are more than welcome to get in touch if you'd like to talk an idea through before posting on the forum, are looking for a collaborator or have any questions.

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1 Comment

Dec 05, 2019

Anthony Constantinou (CWM FX) says, "There will possibly be a wiki, which offers you a sense of different topics that people are recommending and to linked with others who you might work together with when setting up a session."

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