WebPerfDays uses a mixed format that combines formal presentations, ignite sessions, and the open spaces format.

Open space is the simplest meeting format that could possibly work.

It is based on (un)common sense of what people do naturally in productive meetings.

Principles (from Wikipedia on Open_Space_Technology):

While the mechanics of Open Space provide a simple means to self-organize, it is the underlying principles that make it effective both for meetings and as a guidepost for individual and collective effectiveness. The Law of Two Feet — a foot of passion and a foot of responsibility — expresses the core idea of taking responsibility for what you love. In practical terms, the law says that if you’re neither contributing nor getting value where you are, use your two feet (or available form of mobility) and go somewhere where you can. It is also a reminder to stand up for your passion. From the law flow four principles:
  • Whoever comes is the right people
  • Whatever happens is the only thing that could have
  • Whenever it starts is the right time
  • When it’s over, it’s over

More About the Open Spaces Format

Ignite talks are a great time.  Each speaker gets 5 minutes and 20 slides (which auto advance).  Open spaces are a great way to tailor the conference to what you want to hear about.  Demo Rounds, a recent invention at DevOpsDays, should be a lot of fun as they combine the speed of Ignite with elements of the Gong Show.  So if you have a cool project that you are working on? Give a demo.  If the group likes it and wants you to keep going, you do.  The group gets tired?  Yield to the next person.