Simply put, an unconference is a conference that does not have a predetermined set of speakers or talks. The people who show up to the event are the ones who decide what gets talked about. This approach eliminates a fair bit of overhead for organizing the event. We don’t need to put out a call for proposals. We don’t need to go through proposals and decide who gets to speak. We don’t have to verify that the people who submitted proposals are still available, and we don’t have to notify everyone who didn’t get selected.
The un-conference format also creates an opportunity to elevate voices who are not normally heard from. At a traditional conference, the list of speakers and topics is curated in some form by the organizers. This can often lead to the conference schedule being dominated by people who are well known or people who have gotten practice speaking in the past. While we welcome people with speaking experience and notoriety, it’s important to us that we create a space to where those who are not normally selected have a chance to speak. In an unconference format, anyone who wants to speak gets to speak.
By using the unconference format, there’s less work for those organizing the event, and there’s an opportunity for new people to be heard. We call that a win-win.