HIMSS ’14 YourTurn is a conference customization option for unconference lovers

Events such as the annual HIMSS Conference take months to plan and properly execute which means that some topics and subject areas that are being covered at the conference might not be as timely as they could be. Also, event planners and selection committees choosing topics for keynotes and presentations do a pretty good job at picking the sessions they think will be the most widely applicable to a large audience. What we’ve seen over the past few years is that more timely and more personalized sessions require some innovative new approaches.

Last year the planning team at HIMSS was kind enough to interview me about what kinds of “customizable” events I would suggest. I recommended that folks like me who love “unconferences” and “birds of a feather” style events might like the ability to propose and run adhoc sessions similar to those we run at other tech conferences like O’Reilly’s OSCON. The HIMSS team took the advice and created the ability to mix in a little bit of customization and personalization into their 2014 Annual Conference taking place next month.

Dubbed “YourTurn,” this new feature allows participants to suggest and lead their own sessions with whatever topics they choose and HIMSS would provide the venue, space, and coordination. It’s still not quite an unconference that I’m used to, but it’s as close as a large organization like HIMSS can get in its first year trying it. Nevertheless, YourTurn should allow for some very interesting and unique sessions. Vendors who are trying to sell their products will probably see their topics being ignored but vendors who are looking to educate and promote actionable advice and generate new product ideas might see some success.

Here are 6 ways that the HIMSS YourTurn feature will get you talking:

  • Host sessions on news or subject areas that you couldn’t submit in time for the general sessions approval.
  • Host sessions that are more brainstorming in nature rather than instructional or educational.
  • Host sessions where people using specific products or services can get together to discuss their common solutions (similar to a user group meeting)
  • Participate in sessions where you can just gather with like-minded people discussing things that you may be interested in. It’s possible that you may not even know the exact subject but discover the subject by getting together.
  • Attend sessions to start or participate in open source or creative commons projects that you can share with others after the conference.

If you’ve always thought you could do a better job of running a session or selecting subjects for presentation at HIMSS, it’s YourTurn! I’ve submitted one suggestion, I hope you guys will do the same.

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