Unconference agenda creation

At the start of your unconference you create the agenda. Invite all attendees to take part. You’ll need an empty grid. Use it to organise the discussions. Space on 1 axis. Time on the other.

A spreadsheet like grid, with room names on the top row and times down the left hand column. The columns are named Room A, Room B and Room C. The rows are named 1100, 1200, Lunch, 1400 and 1500.

An empty unconference grid

There are many ways to fill the grid. Here are 3 I like:


Attendees take it in turn to pitch their topics. 30 seconds per pitch is enough. Optionally, you can ask for a show of hands after each pitch. This gauges interest and helps assign pitches to spaces. Write the pitch and attendee’s name on a sticky note. Add it to the grid.

Open grid

Attendees write their topic and name on sticky notes. They check the grid for similar discussion topics. If they find a match, they add their sticky note to it. If not, they stick it in an empty cell.


Attendees write their topics on a card. Cards are shuffled from attendee to attendee. Everyone ends up with a card they haven’t seen before. Attendees get into pairs and discuss both cards. Once done, turn each card over and score it from 1 to 5. The low score is 1 and the high score is 5. Repeat this process – shuffle, pair up, discuss, score – until each card has 5 scores on it. Add the scores up and write the total on the card. Ask for and collect all the cards that score 20 or more. Group cards with similar topics. Add them to the grid.

The grid is now full of sticky notes containing discussion topics and names. For example the 1 in Room A and 11am reads, "Starting my own business. Sue".

A full unconference grid

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Text and pictures © 2024 by James Arthur Cattell are licensed under CC BY 4.0.