Hosting a session 101

I want to host a session at Gather. Where do I start?

Start by buying a ticket. Then:

  1. Add your session to the schedule (you’ll receive a link in your booking confirmation email).
  2. Prepare your session (see below).
  3. Turn up on the day and kick ass!

What should I call my session?

Ensure you have a clear topic and an angle. “My Getting Things Done system” isn’t nearly as compelling as “31 procrastination techniques to Get Things Done”.

The session title should give people an indication of what they’ll be doing/hearing/seeing and whether or not they’re expected to participate.

How should I structure my session?

It really depends on your chosen topic. Here are a few ideas:

  • Group/panel discussion.
  • Short talk + discussion.
  • Show & Tell — code demo, hands-on (e.g.: Raspberry Pi).
  • Case study — successes and challenges.
  • Learn how to do X — Teach people a new skill in 40 minutes.
  • I’m an X, ask me anything – open the conversation to the room.

Set the scene

Open your session by introducing yourself and explaining what you’ll be taking about. Now is the time to mention if you’re happy to be photographed and/or videoed by the audience or if the session is under a FriendDA.

Ensure there’s interactivity or time for questions

Gather provides an environment where we can all learn from each other. Setting aside some of your 40-minute slot for a Q&A or audience participation can be beneficial for everyone.

Can I demo my company’s new product or do a sales pitch?

No. That’s a special privilege reserved just for sponsors. If you’d like to become a sponsor please contact us.

What do I need to bring on the day?

You should bring along anything you need for your session, be it hardware, software, equipment or stationery. In the past people have brought along:

  • Adaptors for the projectors
  • Power cables and chargers
  • Post-it notes
  • Pens and pencils
  • Crayons
  • Paper
  • Mind-reading devices
  • Adaptors for the projectors
  • Power cables and chargers
  • Board games
  • Knitting kits
  • Ukeleles
  • Radio-control planes
  • Coffee-making equipment
  • Soil and plant seeds
  • A musical tesla coil
  • Did we mention power cables and chargers?

Did we mention adaptors for the projectors, power cables and chargers? Oh, and label your gear!

A note on the rooms

On the session schedule there are a choice of room sizes. Pick the one that you think will accommodate your expected audience size however be aware that the Gather team reserve the right to move your session to a different room. It’s not much fun for your audience if there are 60 people in a room designed for 20.


The sharing and learning doesn’t stop at the end of the day. Publish your slides. Document that list of great tips and share the link. Connect with your audience on your social network of choice and stay in touch!

Recommended reading

Scott Berkun has written a fantastic post on How To Run a Great Unconference Session. There are some great tips in there!

“Thanks to everyone who made this year’s #nzgather the best Gather so far!”

Rafael Fonseca, @rafaelmagu