Live from the European Procurement Summit - Montreux, Switzerland

2 July 2008

And so to the grand-sounding European Procurement Summit in Switzerland. Montreux to be precise, where I am chairing the three-day event. Nice gig you may think and in many ways you would be right. Good conference, a wide range of senior speakers, not to mention a sumptuous hotel overlooking Lake Geneva.

But business conferences can be funny things. In my experience the way an event is chaired can make all the difference. The chairman sets the tone and if that tone is dull, then the chances are what follows will also be on the dreary side. But events I have attended where the chairman really engages with the audience, encourages and asks questions can bring it to life.

I have been a delegate at a zillion conferences and chairman maybe a dozen times, so my knowledge of what makes a good chair is much greater than my background in delivering it. So what is the secret? What are some of the more memorable interventions you can recall. Or for you does it work more when the chairman tells you to turn off your mobiles, warns you of impending meal breaks and otherwise keeps out of it?

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