I came, I saw, I conferred

Blog post

One of the things people have been most curious about since we announced the Powwow has been the format: what exactly is an ‘unconference’?

Well, traditional conference-style events depend on the organisers establishing the topics for discussion, the agenda, speakers and that kind of thing. Inevitably, this means that events are geared to their audiences listening to speakers and panel debates and, generally, adopting a bit of a passive role.

We wanted to try something different: to allow Powwow participants to influence the topics that are up for discussion and, if they wanted to, to put their hand up and stand up. Ultimately, though, we wanted people to be able to design and shape their own kind of day – and those are the organising principles behind an unconference.

So at the Powwow, most of the sessions are highly interactive discussion and workshop sessions, with content that’s decided upon by participants.

In advance of the event, we’ll be publishing surveys to discover the issues and topics that are on Powwow participants’ minds and will, therefore, feature in the event on the day. These could cover any number of issues but examples so far include

  • report writing
  • how to carry out research and conduct due diligence
  • what technology are you using
  • compliance

Depending on what people vote for, we hope to recruit the support of expert ‘gurus’ to add their views to the mix in sessions throughout the day.

We’re including a range of formats: from the 10-slides-in-ten-minutes PechaKucha-style ‘Show and Tell’ sessions to the 60-minute ‘Small Hadron Collider’ workshops, in which paraplanners nominate up to two topics to dismantle and explore an aspect of paraplanning – whether its best practice in pensions drawdown or making sense of a provider’s process – in pursuit of Higgs Bosons of practical enlightenment.

Then there will be Campfires, where supporters of the Powwow, eager to work with paraplanners, lay bare their ideas for new services, or seek paraplanning wisdom, to improve aspects of their online technology, support, service and training.

The main Powwow is a plenary session – conducted under Chatham House Rules – enabling all participants to gauge sentiment about what shape we all think the paraplanning profession should take in the future; in fact, what a paraplanning profession really looks like.

Finally, there’s at least one Guru Lecture – an individual speaker exploring, once again, a topic that’s influenced by the ideas generated from Powwow participants.

So the day’s what you make it. Instead of telling you what you’ll get, you’ll be able to suggest and decide, and choose and shape the content, and then take part in what you’ve helped to create.

We want to put the ‘confer’ in ‘conference’ so you can say, when the sun sets on the Powwow: ‘I came, I saw, I conferred.’

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