Online Unconferences with QiqoChat!

Online Unconferences with QiqoChat!

At Qiqo, we love supporting event organizers who are designing events that empower their participants. Unconferences are a fantastic format for doing that, and that’s why QiqoChat the first events we started hosting in 2015 were unconferences. In 2020 we expanded so that you could host traditional online and hybrid conferences too.

Over the years, we’ve found that these are some of the key aspects of an online unconference:

  • customizing the look and feel to match your community
  • giving participants the ability to set the discussion topics
  • making it easy to take notes

Qiqo provides you with many great options to meet each of those needs.

Want to chat with us about unconferences? You are invited to drop into our open office hours any week, or book a 1-1 meeting here.

You can customize your unconferences on Qiqo (background, button colors, etc). As an example, you can see a screenshot of an upcoming (January 2023). One interesting aspect is that this unconference is actually being held within a larger conference called the New Rules for Work Symposium. The organizers wanted 2-3 discussion sessions at specific times each day.

The screenshot below shows the main space where people arrive. At the top left, participants can click the join-video button to launch Zoom for that room. On the right side of the page, participants can select a time slot and propose a new discussion topic.

That’s a custom tool we built for unconferences, and you can also use any other format that works for you such as a embedding Google Doc or Google Spreadsheet which lists all the rooms and session times.

In the screenshot below, you can see one of the breakout rooms. When you arrive in a breakout room, the join-video button for that room is at the top-left and you see a space for everyone to take notes on the right.

Click the tabs across the top to see different notes pages and embedded tools.

The list of breakout rooms down the left side provides the “where” for your event. Participants can move themselves, just like in an in-person unconference.

The list of tabs across the top of each breakout room provides the “what” for what tools are available in each room. Select a tab across the top, and then the tool that is visible in the center of the page will change. In this way, participants can choose where they want to go and what tool they want to use when they get there. Tools for notes, post-its, searching the program/schedule, and viewing a list of recordings are some of the most common options.

Remember, the “why” is the most important part of the planning process. Ensure that your invitation communicates a clear purpose, and then the people who resonate with your invitation will show up.

We are always happy to chat with you about unconferences and other innovative event formats. Drop into our open office hours any week, or book a 1-1 meeting here. We look forward to connecting!

Create a Splash Page for Your Zoom Meeting with Qiqo Pro (with early bird discount!)

Create a Splash Page for Your Zoom Meeting with Qiqo Pro (with early bird discount!)

Sometimes you just want to add a little sizzle to your Zoom meetings.

Qiqo Pro is our newest product, and we built so that you can create a beautiful splash page with a permanent, custom link for each of your Zoom meetings. This works with the Zoom Pro account that you are already buying from Zoom.  Here is my example meeting space:

Each meeting space that you create on Qiqo Pro also makes it easy for you to embed the documents and collaborative tools that you plan on sharing during your meeting. This avoids the pain of re-sharing links in Zoom chat when people show up late, and it’s easy for participants to find the notes and recordings from past meetings right from their calendar invitation.

Here is the 50% early bird discount (available through December 31st) which will save you $132 each year!

To get started, click the earlybird discount link above, and then browse the 2-minute tutorial videos to see how easy it is to set up your space!

Here is the link to our open office hours each week for free, live support.

Your feedback and suggestions are always welcome!

QiqoChat Written Conversations

QiqoChat Written Conversations

We believe that standard commenting tools make it hard to have conversations, so we are launching a new tool for written conversations in each Qiqo circle.

What’s special about this tool is that it makes it possible for a large group of people to go in-depth in many different directions at the same time.

By default, participants will be subscribed to all new responses to anything that they have written. They can turn these on/off from email and can even respond directly from email or on the Web. Other notification options such as “Subscribe to everything”, “Subscribe to this keyword”, “Subscribe to this branch/thread” make it easy for participants to choose how to be engaged without being overwhelmed.

Conversations will show up in your circle’s activity stream like this:

Click on the comment icon to see all the responses, sorted by most recent like this:

Each conversation includes a “map view” to display which ideas have the most responses and which conversation threads/branches go the deepest:

The large purple dot represents the beginning of the conversation.

Members of your circle can add new conversation topics to the “General Discussion / Uncategorized” conversation category right from the activity stream.

To create a new conversation category in your circle, click here!

We see how this can become critical communication infrastructure for each Qiqo circle. Please feel free to send your thoughts and feature requests to We’ll see you online!

Facilitator Interview Series

Facilitator Interview Series

Online Open Space with Heidi Nobantu Saul

Innovations in Online Open Space with The Improbable Team

Preview of a 24-hour Open Space with April Jefferson

An International Conference with Dr. Michelle Bastian

Host an Interactive TEDx Online with Kennan Salinero

Building an Online Carnival or a Hallway for Fun Conversations — with Steve Holyer

National Professional Conference in Two Languages with Marc Steinlin

Creating an Online Unconference with Sabrina Apitz

Online Ideation Conference for Sustainable Development with Rolf Schneidereit

Online Open Space with François Knuchel and Karen Gimnig

The Landscape Architecture Foundation’s Annual Social Fundraiser

Online Hackathons with Mark Frischmuth of DemocracyLab

Opening Space Online to Create a Compassionate World Together with Arun Wakhlu, Malati Kalmadi, and Richard Schultz

This page is part of the Qiqo User Guide.

Create an “Online Unconference” or “Open Space” Event

Create an “Online Unconference” or “Open Space” Event

Unconferences and Open Space events are exciting alternatives to standard conferences.  They are highly interactive, simple to set up, and they are happening around the world with increasing frequency.

Unconferences and Open Space events have important differences, but the main characteristic of each is that they let participants shape the agenda by deciding which topics will be discussed in which breakout sessions.  The primary role of the host/facilitator is to get the word out with an invitation and then to welcome everyone and explain the process.  Here’s more info about Open Space by Michael Herman, one of the very generous thought leaders in that community of practice.

Compared to standard conferences, there are several advantages to letting participants decide which topics should be discussed:

  • participants feel empowered
  • discussion topics are more timely
  • the event is easier to plan

QiqoChat makes it easy to organize online unconferences, because it has a built-in tool for live audio & video events with breakout rooms.  Each breakout room has collaborative notes, screensharing, and a way to embed other collaborative online apps.

Sabrina Apitz shares her lessons learned after creating an online unconference using QiqoChat +Mural + Google Docs

Pre-Conference Momentum

Although the day of the unconference is the most exciting part, you can built momentum by letting participation begin 2-3 weeks ahead of time.

For example, you can invite people for 1-2 lunch hour chats or a happy hour chats.  Hold the happy hour in the same space where you will hold the unconference so that people get familiar with moving around.  With Qiqo, you can show/hide different rooms at different times, so you can create some specific rooms just for the happy hour.

During the Unconference

During the unconference, everyone will join the main room when they arrive.  There are 10 simultaneous breakout rooms by default, and you can have up to 100 breakout rooms.  Each breakout room can have up to 300 participants each.  If you need more than 300 people in your opening circle, please email and we can increase that to 500 or 1000 for you.

Each room comes equipped with an embedded tool for collaborative notes called EtherPad.  If you have more than 50 people in a room, we recommend replacing EtherPad with Google Docs.

In the main room, you can create a simple structure listing all the rooms and time slots and let everyone add their topic in the appropriate time slot. Everyone else can jump to the appropriate breakout room when the sessions begin.  Example:

Screen Shot 2021-01-29 at 1.51.42 PM

We recommend that one of your volunteers remains in the main room at all times to welcome any latecomers and answer any questions.  If a participant makes a human connection right at the beginning, they will feel great.

As the admin of your event, you can quickly set click “Admin Options” and then “Set Topics for Breakouts”. Simply paste in the topics that are active during that hour; the topics will be applied to each breakout room to make navigation easier.

We also recommend creating some empty rooms that serve as “overflow” spaces in case any sessions run over time and they need to move to an empty space; each space is already connected to a Zoom meeting.

To create create a dynamic networking space, you can also embed SpatialChat (screenshot below) into one of your breakout rooms. Contact us at to rent a SpatialChat room from us for $25 for your event.

You can embed SpatialChat to create a dynamic networking experience.


You can maintain momentum after the unconference by using free “circle” on QiqoChat.  A circle is a shared online space where your members can access some simple, shared, collaborative tools.  For example:

  • peer-to-peer weekly newsletter,
  • written/email conversations,
  • articles & blog posts, and
  • additional live events scheduled by your participants (optional)

Create a free circle here. We provide Qiqo circles for free, so that when your participants are ready to meet again for another online event, you’re more likely to host it on Qiqo, and that’s how we make money. It’s a win-win!

Additional Resources

450 Participants in a QiqoChat

450 Participants in a QiqoChat

We were thrilled to support the Festival Der Taten in Germany, hosted by the creative agency 17Ziele with support from the German government.  450 participants collaborated in breakout rooms to address challenges in sustainable international development.

Here is the impressive video 17Ziele made to summarize what happened.  You don’t have to speak German to see that they had a lot of fun!

Passwords for Your Zoom meetings on QiqoChat

Passwords for Your Zoom meetings on QiqoChat

By default, whenever you create a new event on QiqoChat, your Zoom meeting links will now have something like this attached to it: “?pwd=xxxxxxxxxxx”

That is an encoded password (it is not the password), and it prevents people from entering your Zoom meeting by just guessing the link to your Zoom meeting on QiqoChat.

No Change for Participants Who Join from a Computer

There is no change for any of your participants who click the green button to open the Zoom meeting; they will not need to enter the password because the link includes the encoded password.

Phone and Tablet Users will Type the Password

If your meeting participants do not click the green join-video button and if they want to enter the meeting by opening Zoom and then entering the meeting code manually, they will also have to enter the password.  They can find this password and the Zoom meeting ID if they click “Help” next to the green join video button.  The password is easy to remember it is a 4-digit number that looks something like this: 7777.  All of your breakout spaces will have the same zoom password.

If you want to test any of your Qiqo-Zoom Meetings (Optional)

1. You can go to an event that you already created on Qiqo (whether it’s in the past or in the future) and you can click the green button to open Zoom.  It will still work.  You can do this for a room that has already been used or a room that no one entered.  For rooms that no one has entered yet, we create the Zoom meeting at that very moment, so different code is used.

2. You can create a new event on Qiqo – in one of your existing circles or not in a circle – and click on the green button to open Zoom.  That will still work.

3. How to Find your Zoom Meeting Password on Qiqo: Click “Help” next to the green join-video button as seen in this screenshot:

Find Your Zoom Password on Qiqo

4. How to Find your Zoom Meeting Password on Zoom: You can see the To see the “join link” and the password for your Zoom meeting when you have it open, click the button with the letter “i” at the top left of your Zoom meeting as seen in this screenshot:

Find your Zoom Password on Zoom

5. How to Edit your Zoom Meeting Password on Qiqo: When you are creating (or editing) an event on Qiqo and you click “More Options” you will see the Zoom meeting password that we create for your event by default.  You can edit the password and it will change the password for the Zoom meetings in all your breakout spaces.  If someone is in the breakout space, it will not disconnect them, but the new password will be used for anyone who has not yet joined the meeting.

This screenshot is from the page where create/edit your event:

Edit Zoom Password on QiqoChat


Comparison to Video Tools like Google Hangouts, Skype, and Zoom

Comparison to Video Tools like Google Hangouts, Skype, and Zoom

Google Hangouts, Skype, and Zoom are similar; each tool provides video chat, written chat, and screensharing for groups of two or more people.

We chose to use Zoom as the video provider for QiqoChat.  That means every time you open a video chat on Qiqo, you are using Zoom.

Qiqo Event Screenshot
Example of a QiqoChat event with 31 participants across four breakout rooms. The host added the custom blue background and the Google Doc being used for notes on the right side of the page.  There’s a lot going on!

Qiqo extends Zoom functionality by “wrapping” Zoom video chats with additional functionality:

  1. Breakout Rooms: After you sign in and click “Participate” in a Qiqo live event (example) you arrive at the main table.  You will see 10 breakout rooms on the left (see the screenshot below).  When a participant clicks on a table name, they will open up the page for that breakout room.  When they click the “Join Video” button, the Zoom video chat for that breakout room will open.
  2. Participant Profiles: When a user enters a breakout room, their profile photo is visible.  Each participant can see who is in which room and make a decision about which conversation they want to join.  With their profile, each participant can share some basic info about themselves, making it easy for them to connect 1-1 and build relationships.
  3. Collaborative Notes: Each breakout room has a notes page on the right hand side (see the screenshot below).  As the creator of the event, you can replace this notes page with a Google Doc or any other collaborative tool so that people can interact with it while they use Zoom video chat.
  4. Group Calendar: Anyone in your circle (or just the admin) can schedule a Zoom video chat which shows up on the group calendar.  This calendar provides continuity between events and is connected to a weekly newsletter which announces upcoming events every Monday morning, saving you time and making it more likely that people who attended previous events attend the next one (or even schedule their own!).
  5. Additional Tools: All your participants become members of your “circle” on Qiqo.  The group calendar is just one of the collaborative tools in your circle.  Here is a list of all tools on Qiqo.
  6. Per-Minute Pricing: We are big fans of Zoom, and we think their $15/month pro account is very reasonably priced.  If you want the functionality of Zoom, but do not use it enough to justify the $15/month subscription, then there is a pay-per-minute option to use Zoom on Qiqo.  Any Qiqo user can set this up at this link, whether or not they have created a circle.  The price is just 1¢/min per participant.  You will receive a customized link which you can use to invite participants to your meeting space.  Here’s mine!
Listening Circles on the Downtown Mall

Listening Circles on the Downtown Mall

As QiqoChat’s founder, I’m quite interested in helping people collaborate.  We sometimes forget that the foundation for collaboration is listening.

Living in Charlottesville with all the recent violence between the Alt-Right protesters and opposing counter-protesters, I thought it would be helpful to create space for people to sit down and patiently & respectfully listen to each other.

Last Friday I asked for some volunteers across a few email discussion groups and 15 wonderful volunteers and facilitators came together to make this personal project happen.

NBC29 covered it (screenshot above) but their video link is no longer active.