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MadLab Hosts Stockport's First "Unconference"

  • Published: Friday, May 17, 2024

Recently, MadLab hosted its Stockport’s First Unconference- a revolutionary event that allows the guests to take control of their own conference experience, to host their own seminars, and to build their day their way, while meeting like minded people. We spoke with Claire Wicher, who has ran BarCamp Manchester (the UK’s longest running and largest unconference) from 2014 to 2017.

Claire speaks to us about the essence of an Unconference:

“An unconference has no hidden agenda, and the topics aren't being pushed by some corporate sponsor to align with their vision. People often have the most interesting conversations at conferences when speaking to the other attendees in the queue for coffee or during breaks. Why is this? It's because the attendees are what matters most. They're the ones with the passion and interest in that particular conference's topic. They're more likely to work on the front line and with those directly affected by the topic's issues. So an unconference turns everything on its head. It eliminates the corporate sponsors, hidden agendas and speakers paid to discuss a specific topic and opens the floor to those who matter most. There are no limitations on what can be discussed (as long as it's in line with our code of conduct), and it creates a space that encourages collaboration and participation over passive listening. Sessions could be talks, discussions, panels, or even practical workshops - if it fits in a 30-minute slot, we'll help you make it work!”

We asked Claire if she thought that more people should adopt this more open style, and she commented:

“Absolutely! But that would involve giving control back to the audience, and perhaps not everyone is ready for that...”

We also heard from some attendees about how they found their time at the event:

“It was a varied learning experience. Also got access to an organisation that will proved hardware devices and SIM contracts free to people who are under an economic barrier for funds”

“It was quite liberating to just talk to strangers about something that means a lot to me.”

“Non-stressful - the tech worked, the attendees were curious and engaged (on leading a session).”

“Spur of the moment decision to lead a session, I felt it gave me a great opportunity to host my talk in a way I felt comfortable”.

If you’re interested in joining a future MadLab event, you can find more of them here.

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