Checklist for Opening Space

Pre-event Planning with Sponsor

  • Determine whether OS is a good fit
  • Name the theme, ideally in the form of a possibility-oriented question
  • Determine who to invite, estimate how many attending
  • Set date
  • Select space (see notes on choosing a space)
  • Decide what, if anything, to do about assessing the outcomes
  • Plan strategy for enlisting people who can impact the event
  • Send invitation


Main Circle

  • Paper for Topics
  • Magic Markers (lots, create a feeling of abundance – enough for ~20% to be writing at the same time)
  • Post-its (1 pack of 3×5 to make time-space grid; different colors for different times is nice)
  • Tape on agenda wall
  • Convener responsibility sheets (optional)

Breakout Spaces

  • Label for the spaces that match the agenda time-space grid
  • Masking tape (1 roll per breakout space)
  • Magic markers (2-3 per breakout room)
  • Flip charts (1 per breakout room)


  • Registration list
  • Name tags, pens for writing names if not pre-printed
  • Any welcome materials (logistics information, journal, pen)


  • Work with “space” staff on set-up
    • Provide an article or book on OST
  • Room set-up
    • Confirm how main circle will be set
    • Identify breakout spaces
    • Get list of breakout room names, maps to rooms, if needed
    • Any signage required to identify spaces?
  • Plan meals (ideally buffet; food that can be out for several hours)
    • Arrange details with caterer (breakfast, lunch, dinner, breaks)
    • Arrange for any special food needs
  • Arrange for wireless microphone, plus spare battery
  • Proceedings plans
    • On the web?  With onsite computers? By hand? By e-mail?
    • If by computer, arrange for computers (about 1 per breakout space)
      • 1 printer
      • Adequate power, tables for computers, software (e.g., Word)
      • Wi-fi arrangements
      • Twitter wall?
      • Web or proceedings cover design?
      • Introductory remarks – who writes them?
      • Participant list (contact information)
      • If hard copy, arrange for copying
  • Prep sponsors for opening (5 minutes of why they called the session and their aspirations for it) and their role (participate!)
  • Any legal issues to consider?
  • Any union issues to consider?
  • Set date for debrief

Day of event set up

  • Suggest sponsor write proceedings introduction sometime during the event
  • Set up registration table (sign, name tags, pens, list: names, phone #s, addresses)
  • Set up message area, registration table, signage, computers, microphones
  • Make signs (law, principles, surprise, news room, theme, time/space matrix, breakout space labels, tape on the agenda wall)
  • Make circle, put blank paper for topics and markers in center
  • Put supplies in break out rooms

Post Event

  • Hold debrief
  • Copy and distribute proceedings and/or post on the web
  • Write thank you’s
  • Any assessment activities?


Writing an Invitation

Be as brief as possible but no briefer.  Include:

  • Something that clarifies that this is an invitation
    • Attending is a choice
  • The purpose of the session and desired outcome(s)
  • The sponsors
  • Some information about the approach
    • In 25 words or less, what is Open Space?
  • Times; start and end times for each day
    • Remember time for registration on first day
  • Logistics
    • Location
    • Hotel, meal and transportation information
    • Appropriate dress
    • How to register
    • Who received the invitation
    • If numbers are limited, then “first come” message
    • Come for the whole event (if no drop-ins)
    • How to contact someone for more information


Coaching Sponsors on Opening Remarks

(5-10 minutes)

  • Thank you for coming
  • The purpose of the event
  • Who is here
  • Your commitment to the group: what you will do with what comes out the other side (e.g., support people in implementing whatever is within their span of control; work with them for those things outside).
  • Acknowledge any constraints (e.g., time, budget).
  • Your hopes and expectations for the group and what it can become.