AB Thinks  →  2nd May 2018

The inside track on the Yak

In June more than 100 in-house communicators will gather for the fourth Big Yak. If you’re a virgin ‘yakker’, AB’s managing director, Katie Macaulay, explains what to expect.

I organised my first unconference for a client in 2005, although the term hadn’t been coined back then. We told the client it would be an event where people “voted with their feet”. There would be no agenda or formal presentations. We would hire a big, open space and attendees would create the agenda on the day based on the topics they wanted to discuss. Fortunately, our client was a natural risk-taker.

A few weeks later, in nervous anticipation, we gathered together several hundred employees from this rather formal, hierarchical financial services organisation. We explained the rules of the day and let the event unfold. To our relief (and secret astonishment) it worked. These were intelligent, opinionated people with a lot on their minds. They relished the freedom and opportunity the day gave them. As facilitators, our only challenge was keeping up with their varied and passionate discussions.

On Saturday, 9 June around 120 internal communicators will gather in etc. venues, Marble Arch, for the fourth Big Yak. The first round of tickets sold out in 24 hours. I expect the next batch, released on 14 May, will be snapped up just as quickly.

We internal communicators are a curious, gracious and effusive bunch. The unconference concept could have been made for us. If this is your first Big Yak get ready for a day of lively debate and exploration. Be prepared for this to unfold organically. Come to listen, participate and connect.

If you’d like to meet on the day, AB’s head of digital, Mario Theodorou, and I are offering free Comms Clinics. These 15-minute sessions are designed to address your burning issues from the strategic to the tactical. Anyone with a Big Yak ticket can enter a prize draw to nab one of five sessions. We look forward to hearing your challenges.