Reflections on guest-hosting #HampshireHour

Last week I had the pleasure of guest hosting #HampshireHour. In case you’re not already familiar with it, #HampshireHour is a weekly, hour-long chat on Twitter every Tuesday evening 8-9pm. It’s very informal and to join in all you need to do is tweet using the #HampshireHour hashtag.

It’s a great opportunity for businesses to connect with each other to discuss the topic of the day, or just to have a chat. For most people who join in, it seems to be a bit of both.

Who am I?

My name is Mark Braggins, and I run AHA Digital Ltd, which helps organisations and people to connect. Increasingly, I’ve found that involves helping to ‘network-the-networks’. I have a few other hats, including being an Associate of Southern Policy Centre, the public policy thinktank for southern England.

On this occasion, I was tweeting both as @HampshireHour, and as @WinchBiz – the informal / unofficial voice of the Winchester Business Unconference. The unconference has been instigated by the Economy and Arts team at Winchester City Council, who have asked me to organise and coordinate it on their behalf.

The Topic

The topic selected for discussion was unconferences, and how they are ‘engineering serendipity‘.

That was a really good question from Chris, and I’m pleased to confirm that ‘unconference’ is indeed a word, it’s just that not many people are aware of it. According to the Oxford English Dictionary an unconference is:

There is a fuller definition on Wikipedia, and an introduction to the WinchBiz unconference on the WinchBiz blog.

Pre-prepared questions & unrehearsed answers

We had prepared six questions in advance to help fuel discussion. That equates to one question every ten minutes:

  1. What does a business conference mean to you?

It was really interesting to see the range of different perspectives. Responses included meeting people, learning, and having a change of scene.

2. What is the biggest piece of learning you have found from a ‘Business Conference’?

The second question didn’t elicit any responses (that I could find).

I suspect the reason is probably not that there hasn’t been any noticeable learning from business conferences, but that conversation was in full flow, and participants didn’t have time to react before the next question was posted.

3. Outside formal conferences, what unexpected encounter or piece of learning has had the biggest positive effect on your business?

There were some really interesting replies to this question. I particularly liked drawing a parallel between in-person networking events, and online events like #HampshireHour.

Then, pointing out the network effect. It’s amazing how just being decent and helpful can result in unexpected consequences.

Mixing business, friendship and pleasure – who’d have thought it!

4. Have you ever been to an unconference before?

This time, responses were pretty consistent: “No”

5. What topics would you like to see as sessions at #WinchBiz on Friday?

This was quite a difficult question to answer with so little time available. The only reply initially asked if there was anything already prepared. In the case of WinchBiz, Winchester City Council has provided CitizenLab as an online place where ideas can be rehearsed before the unconference. There’s more about that in a couple of blogposts: CitizenLab: NOT business as usual in Winchester and Here’s one we prepared earlier: From idea to unconference session.

I could imagine using a mixture of CitizenLab and regular Twitter chats ahead of the unconference to add depth and breadth.

6. What makes you think “that was a great event”?

As an event organiser I find this sort of discussion incredibly valuable, and it really helps inform the preparation for WinchBiz. I’ve also noted that decent coffee and good quality sandwiches can make a real difference. Speaking of sandwiches…

That’s a wrap (sorry)

That’s a Wrap

Hosting #HampshireHour is a completely different experience to participating – it feels like the pressure is really on, and I was terrified that the conversation would dry up. I needn’t have worried, it was a really positive experience, and I really enjoyed it.

Many thanks to Miranda Rock aka @RocketLaunchUK for inviting me to guest host, and for facilitating #HampshireHour.
I look forward to contributing to next week’s National Apprentice Week special.

Picture credit

Vegetable and chicken wrap, by Marco Verch

2 thoughts on “Reflections on guest-hosting #HampshireHour”

  1. I was sorry the unconference was postponed and hope to make it when it is rescheduled. It seems to me that the strength of the concept is that the attendees can set the agenda so the focus is on what they really care about, as opposed to what organisers think the attendees will care about. That, and the possibility of unexpected but rewarding topics.

    • Hi Tim. That would be great if you can make it to the rescheduled unconference. You are exactly right about the strength of the concept. I have heard some unconference attendees say that they never want to attend a ‘traditional conference again as a result!


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