Session Formats

You can structure a session however you wish, but to help align expectations of the session leader and the participants, we off the following descriptions of formats that have been well received in previous ProductCamps.  It is not necessary to follow these formats, but experience has shown them to be popular and using the label will help match expectations for those who com to a session.  In general, the sessions that have been reported as most enjoyed and talked about have been very interactive.  This list is is not intended to be limiting, so feel free to be creative.

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  • Town Hall – The leader presents a short (20-30 minute max) informative topic, open-ended question or premise and opens the floor for expansion, comment, questions and general discussion.
  • Roundtable Breakout – Similar to Town Hall, except that audience breaks out into small groups and typically shares findings, comments, or team responses with the room at the end of the session.
  • Workshop – In this format, the audience is actively involved, collectively or in groups, in an exercise or application of a technique or process which has been presented by the session leader.  The description should mention the portion of the session spent in the exercise and what the attendees will produce.  Proposers are encouraged to have knowledgeable assistants to help answer questions and support the exercise.
  • Panel Discussion – Popularly seen, this format has several people qualified to talk about the subject of the session, preferably from diverse or even counterpoint perspectives or roles.  A moderator facilitates questions from the audience or a series of prepared questions for the panelists, but a significant part of the session is still interactive Q&A with the audience.
  • Case Study – This format could be a combination of presentation and town hall discussion. A real-life problem faced by a company is detailed by the presenter, then the audience discusses in-depth what they would do in this situation. Then the presenter reveals what actually happened, and usually leads a second round of discussion of what could have been been improved or avoided.
  • Ask the Expert – This format is most successful with a recognized authority on a subject of wide interest, or a direct participant in some particularly interesting event or phenomenon.  The expert or a moderator introduces the topic and frames some appropriate discussion and then opens the floor for questions, including those that might be somewhat specific as long as they are applicable to more people than the individual questioner.
  • Presentation – Having already suggested that this traditional one-directional delivery is less popular among the ProductCamp community, there are some exceptional topics and presenters who can make this work.  Session proposers are advised to consider this carefully and be honest in citing this format if it is actually what will be delivered.