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Jerry Michalskihas held his retreats where he invites eclectic people that want to make the world a better place to come together for an extended weekend with no fixed agenda for 14 years. That makes it one of the oldest and longest running, I venture the mother of all unconferences.

Doc Searlsand John Locke met at one of the first ones before they wrote the Cluetrain Manifesto.

Jerry engaging during his RetreatAs you may have experienced yourself, the most interesting conversations happen in the hallways. At Jerry’s Retreat the hallway conversations are brought to the center of the event.

Things I learned over the last 3 days that you can use for your SAP Inside Track that you should be organizing with your local SAP community.

I already postedabout the amazing ice breaker: Share a book that changed your life.

In case a participant forgets to bring a book, they just introduce it verbally and don’t get one from the pool. Ideally that game is played the evening before the Inside Track starts in the backroom of a pub.

I also totally loved 60 Minute University. Give a presenter 5 minutes to introduce a topic that she feels passionate about, followed by a 5 minute Q&A before the next presenter takes the stage. Within an hour you get 6 amazing introductions to themes that you may have not known anything about. Mind blown. Important that the moderator of the Q&A is not the time keeper.

Moderation tip: If time is running out and there are still a lot of questions in the queue, let them all quickly ask their question. That gives the presenter a chance to quickly summarize an answer to all of them. Have a longer break right after this exercise, to give the audience and presenters the chance to connect individually. Small groups will form around the themes.

It reminded me of what we do when we introduce new SAP Mentors, although a bigger focus is put on the introduction part and not enough Q&A, we may want to split up the introduction into more sessions and make room for Q&A.

Do something local. Even though the SAP Inside Track is bringing the local SAP passionate folks together, they still may come from a different city. Select the food and the evening get together accordingly. We ate next to a gallery that was showcasing local artists and a chair maker who was there in person and talked what went into making a chair for guitar players and that he so far could not get any consensus from cello players, as most of them are taught to sit on the edge of a chair. How can you build a chair that is just edge? My guess is, that the edge rule is given because there were no adequate chairs available. 

He dreams that Symphony concert organizers will spend some attention on having beautiful chairs on stage, after all that is what concert goers see first. It would set a different tone, especially for chamber music.

Last tip, engage with your local participants early and share the tasks of organizing your SAP Inside Track with them, makes it more enjoyable for everyone: Don’t forget to have fun. 

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6 Comments

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  1. Marlo Simon

    Hello Mark,

    Thanks for sharing this experience and specially for adding your tips of how this could help SIT events.

    After the last SIT here in São Paulo we felt that we had lots sessions and we didn’t make enough room for interactions. What’s interesting is that what we remember the most from the event were the people we met.

    For this year we’re gonna try to have a group lunch and looks like this 5 minute format would trive here.

    Best Regards,

    Marlo Simon.

    (0) 
  2. Marlo Simon
    Hello Mark,

    Thanks for sharing this experience and specially for adding your tips of how this could help SIT events.
    After the last SIT here in São Paulo we felt that we had lots sessions and we didn’t make enough room for interactions. What’s interesting is that what we remember the most from the event were the people we met.
    For this year we’re gonna try to have a group lunch and looks like this 5 minute format would trive here.

    Best Regards,
    Marlo Simon.

    (0) 
  3. Michelle Crapo

    I love the tips.

    As we get ready for SAP Inside Track Chicago – we are reading these tips.  Although, it’s too late for things like having others help with organization.   We are going to try give the presenter 5 minutes to introduce a topic, and 5 minutes after to answer questions. 

    THANK YOU for the advice,

    Michelle

    (0) 
  4. Michelle Crapo
    I love the tips.

    As we get ready for SAP Inside Track Chicago – we are reading these tips.  Although, it’s too late for things like having others help with organization.   We are going to try give the presenter 5 minutes to introduce a topic, and 5 minutes after to answer questions. 

    THANK YOU for the advice,

    Michelle

    (0) 

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