Event Success Story – Relevant topics & panelists attract high workshop attendance

iAwards Business Mentoring Workshop

The iAwards Business Mentoring Workshops (BMW) was a one day event within a large three day awards ceremony called the iAwards,  hosted by the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA). The three day event attracted over 1,000+ delegates from government, small to multi-national corporates, Australian start-ups to students.

The BMW was an integral part of the overall event. Its purpose was to foster learning and arm start-ups and organisations doing business with start-ups the tools to steer their business to success.
With just eight weeks to plan the workshops BCS hit the ground running and fulfilled the brief.

About Our Client - click red line to expand

  • aiialogoAbout our client: The AIIA is Australia’s peak representative body and advocacy group for those in the digital ecosystem. They are a not-for-profit organisation to benefit members.

    AIIA represent digital organisations nationally, including:

    • global brands such as Apple, Adobe, Avanade, EMC, Deloitte, Gartner, Google, HP, IBM, Infosys, Intel, Lenovo, Microsoft and Oracle
    • international companies including Optus and Telstra
    • national companies including Ajilon, Data#3, SMS Management and Technology and Technology One; and
    • a large number of ICT SMEs and digital Incubators.

    Best Case Scenario has been an AIIA event partner for over seven years.

The Project Brief

  • Attract over 100 workshop delegates
  • Assist with content & theme outline
  • Identify & recruit speakers
  • Create marketing copy for online promotion
  • Negotiate, book & allocate appropriate room within the venue
  • Assist with sponsor marketing & recruitment
  • Manage all AV & food and beverage requirements
  •  Manage registration
  • Coordinate travel & accommodation for speakers
  • Conduct post event debrief with recommendations

“As MC of the Business Mentoring workshops I was impressed by the engagement of the audience, the ensuing lively discussion, and especially the calibre of the panellists. Luli and her team did a fantastic job in recruiting and preparing thought leaders that inspired the attendees.”

Roger Lawrence, Chair, AIIA Innovation Special Interest Group
Chief Technologist for Innovation, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Asia-Pacific and Japan

The Line-Up of All Line-Ups

It’s safe to say that the AIIA’s brief was fully meet when it came to securing a high profile panel. Speakers were sourced from NICTA, Onmy, ThoughtWorks, Stone & Chalk, StartupAus etc..iAwards BMW lineup

Clear Approach & Open Communications

The approach had to be clear and open. There were many stakeholders involved on the client side and expectations were very high.  Workshops can be a tricky beast for event planners. They are collaborative by nature and not a one way presentation, so getting the planning stage right was crucial. Planning for the BMW started just eight weeks out from the event. During this time Best Case Scenario (BCS) secured eight high profile speakers, developed four workshop themes and designed the workshops in such a way that all four themes flowed into the main event theme. The brief was clear but the time to build was short. BCS tapped into their existing speaker network and built a strong line up of entrepreneurial and inspirational speakers.
Event Success Story – Relevant topics & panelists attract high workshop attendance

“It was like building a jigsaw, before we could approach panelists we had to build a compelling theme that not only attracted panelists & delegates but also flowed into the theme of the larger event. Not to mention that content HAD to relevant”,
Luli Adeyemo, Director, BCS

Challenges Faced & Overcome

The coordination of this workshop was not without its challenges. Like any other event problems did arise during the planning stages.

Theme Conflict
Initial disagreement over the workshop focus/theme. This was rectified by supplying a selection of themes to all stakeholders and tweaking.

Lack of Panelist Members
Only 50% of the panelists were confirmed just three weeks out from the event. This was due to locating the right panel profile. Fortunately a robust back up plan was in place to fill up the remaining 50% of panelists allowing enough time for effective marketing promotion.

Sky-Rocketing Costs
Costs of the event were sky-rocketing in other areas. So we looked at ways how we could bring down costs for the workshops. Our close relationship with the venue enabled us to negotiate room allocation within a favorable budget.

Influence the selection of attendees based upon key focus areas

As mentioned previously workshops by nature are collaborative and are not a one-way presentation format. We needed to ensure that the panelists were indeed experts in their field. But also ensure that delegates invited could contribute to the workshops also. Making it an interactive format where content was shaped and discussed at the workshop. The audience was made up of start-ups, government representatives and small to multi-national corporates all with the same goal – working together to drive innovation and entrepreneurship.

Prepare a well-defined agenda

Once the panelists and topic areas were secured. The agenda build came easily. When dealing with workshops it’s important that the format is somewhat structured as opposed to ‘free flowing’. It helps ensure that everything is kept on track especially when it comes to time allocation. Running out of time due to a too loose of a format is a common problem with workshops. The agenda should clearly mark out sections for brainstorming, panelist question time and audience questions.

Agree on objectives upfront with all stakeholders

We discussed the overall goals and objectives with key stakeholders at the AIIA. We then prepared a list of key focus areas/topic areas for the workshop based on feedback from the delegates of the previous year’s awards. These key focus areas helped us to then build relevant content, with input from the panelists playing an important role when it came to marketing the event. Coordinating the flow of information between our client, panelists and ourselves had to be carefully managed, we needed to ensure that content was relevant and was linked to the overall direction of the three day event.
The four key focus sessions areas included:  Funding, Customer Acquisition, Talent Acquisition, Managing Partnerships
Event Success Story – Relevant topics & panelists attract high workshop attendance

When is a workshop not a workshop?

Read my blog write-up on workshops.

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