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Format

ProductCamp Ottawa (PCO) is an un-conference. Rather than having pre-scheduled speakers (other than the two key-note speakers), anyone who is interested in leading a session can submit a proposal. Proposed sessions will be voted on by the ProductCamp participants with the most popular sessions getting on the event schedule. Other participants will view what your session is about prior to the event so that they can be prepared to vote when they arrive at ProductCamp on Saturday morning. Sessions are nominally 40 to 45 minutes long.

  • Session Title
  • Description of Session
  • Session Format (see information below)
  • Short Bio (around three lines)
  • Session Category or Track (see information below)
  • Target Audience (PM Essentials, PM Advanced, PM for Entrepreneurs – see information below)
  • Equipment required (whiteboard, flip chart, projector etc.)

Please note that each potential session leader is limited to two session proposals. This is to encourage maximum participation by all interested session leaders. If you’re looking for topics that past participants are wanting to see, check out this list. Please note, that once a session is submitted, it may take up to 12 hours to appear on the PROPOSED SESSION page.

We do not filter session submissions, but it is a manual process to take the session submission and add it to the PROPOSED SESSION page, thus the potential for delay -also remember we are volunteers also!

Session Categories or Tracks

  • Opportunity Analysis (Market Research, Market Segmentation, Competitive Analysis, Business Case, Market Problems, etc.)
  • Product Strategy (Business Planning, Business Model, Whole Product, Roadmaps, Portfolio Planning, Partnerships, Resource Allocation, Technology Assessment, etc.)
  • Requirements Definitions (MRD, PRD, Elicitation, Personas, Use Cases, Prioritization, UX, etc.)
  • Product Development: (Agile Processes, Market Testing, Testing/QA, Beta Tests, Offshore/Nearshore Dev, etc.)
  • Go-to-Market: (Product Launch Plans, Product Launch Readiness, Market Strategy, Marketing Plan, Pricing, Positioning, Messaging, Channel strategy, Sales Enablement, etc.)
  • Marketing Execution: (Demand Gen, Events, PR, Advertising, Social Media, Marketing Collateral, Sales Tools, Sales Pipeline, Channel Mgmt, Marketing Metrics, etc.)
  • Product Lifecycle Mgmt: (Portfolio Analysis, Crossing the Chasm, Brand Mgmt, End-of-life, Divestment, Customer Retention, Repositioning, etc)
  • Prod Mgmt Careers: (PM 101, Team Management, Interviews, Roles Definitions, Small v. Big Company, PM Tools, etc.)
  • Other: Please feel free to suggest your own (related to PM) track

Target Audience

  • PM Essentials – these sessions are targeted to product managers and product marketers with no or little previous experience in the topic and should discuss core knowledge and skills that a product manager or product marketer would want to know in the topic area.
  • PM Advanced – these sessions are targeted to product managers and product marketers with previous experience in the topic area and that are looking to increase their depth of knowledge in that topic by discussing a narrow subject at a deeper level of detail.
  • PM for Entrepreneurs – these sessions are targeted to startup entrepreneurs and small business owners that are looking to create breakthrough products but need a solid understanding of product management and product market principles as it applies to entrepreneurs, recognizing that an entrepreneurial company does not have a dedicated product management or product marketing role and that the practice of these principles may be different than in established companies.

Session Format

Session formats at ProductCamp Ottawa are not meant to be restrictive, but communicative. If you have in mind a particular style of delivery and engagement of the participants, by identifying in your proposal a format listed here, Campers will better understand what to expect from the dynamics of the session.

Some Very Important Guidelines to Consider:

We encourage you to promote your session, but we caution you to not use the language such as “presenting at ProductCamp” or any other language that sounds like you’ll definitely be leading a session. If you promote with that kind of language, it gives the impression that you have a guaranteed slot, which raise questions about the integrity of the ProductCamp sessions process. As you know in ProductCamp, nobody gets a guaranteed slot. The participants decide the morning of ProductCamp. So instead, please use language more like: “has submitted a session for ProductCamp”. Thanks for your consideration. ProductCamp sessions are NOT for selling your product, your service, or you (e.g. consultants and recruiters). People come to ProductCamp and give up a Saturday to give and receive useful information, not to get pitched at. If you have expertise in your field, that will come through in your session and people will seek you out to learn about your product organically. If you would like to hand out materials in your session, that is acceptable, if the material is relevant to the topic at hand (e.g. a worksheet in a workshop session, a diagram in a presentation). Marketing slides for your product are not acceptable. PCO provides official sponsors of ProductCamp with tables to distribute their literature to those who want it. It is fine to introduce yourself in the beginning of your session and mention who you are, where you work, and what you do, and we encourage that.

Contact the PCO sessions team if you have any questions about what is and is not appropriate. We do not enforce a lot of top down control on ProductCamp sessions, but this is a hard and fast rule – violate it and we might have to ban you from presenting in the future. Thanks for helping us keep the un-conference spirit of ProductCamp alive.

Lessons Learned from Previous ProductCamps …. (by listening to participants)

There is nothing like leading a session at ProductCamp – it will be the most fun you can pack into a 45-50 minute conference session. Because ProductCamp is completely user driven, there are no “talking heads” or “keynotes.” There is just you and your peers. That lends a realism to the sessions that you can’t get anywhere else. Presenting at ProductCamp is fun, and an experience you will remember forever. Use this opportunity to polish your presentation and facilitation skills in a non-threatening environment, talking about problems that matter with people who “get it.” We learned at the previous ProductCamp events that certain types of sessions work better than others. These are guidelines, but feel free to break the mold and bring something new to the table.

Participants Liked:

  • Interactivity
  • Discussion
  • Use Cases/Examples
  • Whiteboards
  • Roundtables

Participants Disliked:

  • Excessive Slideware (>10 slides is probably pushing it for most sessions!)
  • Pushing questions to the end
  • Anything Sales-y

Session Structure

You can structure a session however you wish, but to help align expectations of the session leader and the participants, we offer 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.

  • 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.
  • 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.

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