Unlike an orientation or workshop, an information session is meant to present the bare essentials of a topic, to wet the appetite of attendees. Ideally, people want more information and thus a workshop, an orientation, or micro-community is born.
Topics are presented in rapid-fire succession, without Q&A, in 5 minutes or less (yes, less time is preferred). Once all presenters are done, we dismiss and attendees are free to approach the presenters for more information, Q&A, etc.
Information topics in a session do not need to be related to oneanother. The audience comes to learn something new, quickly.
This micro-presentation format is adapted from similar formats known as lightning talks, Pecha Kucha, Speed Geeking, or Ignite events.
Recent Information Sessions
2011-05-16 - Making a Better Web Site (Kirk Rawlins, Andrew Jensen, Marc Stevens, Mike Lewis, and Nate Wise)
Tips For Presenters
- You are more or less "pitching a sale" for your topic. Condense the essential information about your topic into five minutes and hope that it will attract those who want to know more.
- Keep your topic simple, assuming that the audience has no former knowlege.
- Prepare a slideshow and send a copy to the community email list (or email it to the organizer to post), post it on Slideshare, or provide a handout (not preferred). Ask the organizer for help, if necessary. You don't actually have to use it, but the audience should not be taking notes.
- Be prepared to stay for the entire session and the Q&A period. You may be swamped with questions, or you may not. Ideally, your presentation motivates others to champion the topic as much as you do! If no one approaches you after a while, feel free to mingle and question the other presenters.
Here are some resources for preparing effective micro-presentations:
Tips for Attendees
- As an attendee, you must save your questions until the end. The presenter should provide all the presented information to you later, so focus on the presentation and only note the questions that you want to ask when the session ends.
- After the session ends, approach the presenters directly and take time to listen to other people's questions around you. You may find and befriend others with the same needs, interests, or stewardships.
- Anyone should feel free to organize further learning moments, a workshop, a collaborative effort, an orientation, a discussion group, or micro-community around the presenter's topic.
- Try to get all your questions answered immediately following the session. But, if you miss presenters, try to contact them with your question anyway. The organizer should have their contact information.
Tips for Organizers
- Keep the total session length to less than 30 minutes. That's five topics or less. Even with fewer presenters, keep the presentation time exceptionally short and interrupt if necessary. The purpose of the session is not completeness of information, only an introductory overview to the topic.
- Explain these principles of an "information session" beforehand, particularly the Q&A following.
- Schedule an hour for the meeting room.
- Before allowing Q&A, review the presenters' names and have them go stand around the perimeter of the room, spaced for effective conversation with their own groups.
- Before allowing Q&A, dismiss the attendees officially. No one should feel obligated to stay for Q&A.
- Record the presentations (even if it's just audio) and post the presentation as soon as possible for those who couldn't attend.