Attending my second BarCamp was even more exciting than the first.

The most exhilarating un-conference, BarCamp Manchester 5, seriously tops the list of events in Manchester (although, if you disagree I’d love to hear what I’m missing out on).

For those of you who have never been to BarCamp, it’s one of the funnest things to take part in. Unlike other conferences attendees are encourage to go from talk to talk until they find something they’re interested in. People just turn up on the day and post their talks to the timetable and off you go. You attend a talk you think you’ll find interesting and hey presto you’re taking part in BarCamp. Topics of conversation range from Innovation and Empathy (a little something I put together myself) to watching random YouTube videos. The weekend is what you make of it and the two day BarCamp really caters to everyone.

Sadly, I turned up half way through the first day and unfortunately missed a whole bunch of super interesting talks (including Chris Northwood’s, but luckily I’d had a sneak peak beforehand). I mean I’m going to sum up why BarCamp Manchester 5 was so great, and I’ll try to avoid focussing on the mass amounts of amazing food – none of which was wasted and was heartily delivered to Manchester’s homeless.

So here’s 5 reasons why BarCamp Manchester 5 kicked arse:

1. The People

Well of course, any conference that is dependent on the attendees doing a talk, is only as good as the people who attend (that made sense in my head). Seriously, it was such an amazingly fun, interesting and inspiring group of people who just wanted to share their thoughts and ideas in a completely unique and engaging way.

2. Why I’m A Feminist

Ian Forrester’s round table discussion on feminism was definitely something to engage with. I’ve already spoken to numerous people about it, it was just an insightful half hour  talk on why him and some inspiring other men were feminists or allies, whilst the women in the room spoke about their experiences as feminists. It was great to see a great inclusive community forming (a more in depth blog to follow).

3. Flexibility

As I have already mentioned, it’s not often that you’re encouraged to use your feet at a conference – but I guess that’s what makes this an un-conference. You’re actively told to walk out mid talk if it’s not for you, just get up and leave no matter where the speaker is up to. Don’t worry, everyone does it and no one gets offended. Time is valuable and everyone appreciates that, so  it’s important for attendees to embrace their interests, and find the right talk for them.

4. The Venue

SpacePort X was the perfect venue for BarCamp. Not too big and not too small, with easy access and in the city centre there wasn’t very much missing at all. Hand drawn maps dotted around around the venue, added a special touch in helping attendees navigate. It really helped put the icing on the (AutoTrader) cake – sorry BarCamp specific joke there. Anyway, SpacePort X provided the laid back, carefree environment that reflected the easygoing atmosphere of BarCamp and it was wonderful.

5. WEREWOLF

The definitive game of strategy and deceit. It’s safe to say I’ve fallen in love with it. Honestly, so much fun that I’m going to convince my whole family to play it this Christmas. Attendees sit in a circle to lie to each others faces. The werewolves want to kill the villagers, the villagers need to kill the werewolves, God has overall control. Throw that together with a couple of cans of beer and boy do you have the ultimate strategy game. If you fancy joining in I’ll be going to the monthly Werewolf meetup.

Of course, BarCamp is this and whole lot more. So much in fact I didn’t really know where to begin. I do know, however, that I won’t be eating pizza again for a while and that I’m already counting down the days until BarCamp Manchester 6!

I’d love to hear what your favourite talks from BarCamp Manchester 5 were? Or want more information about events in Manchester? Give me a tweet peeps.

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