Archive | January, 2012

Wigan Economic Forum 25/1/2012

27 Jan

Town meetings are a rare thing these days, but they have the look and feel of a community coming together at important times. The Insider Economic Forums provide this function to an extent. They give the elected representatives a chance to show businesses what they are doing for them, and for the business community to hold them to account.

There is a magic formula to these panels, but it’s a trade secret. All I will say is the choices of speaker can be critical. John Winnard from William Santus and Sons, the Wigan based manufacturer of Uncle Joe’s Mintballs is a colourful personality with great stories to tell. He is as comfortable speaking to a youth club as he is to a business group – here we deliberately left his speech to an introductory 10 minutes with a key message about how he has changed his business.

We were also presented with the challenge of a stand in speaker Susan Gambles from Wigan Council as her colleague Gillian Bishop wasn’t too well. This isn’t a problem, it’s just something to deal with, it happens all the time. Luckily, we made it through unscathed as Susan Gambles was both engaging and professional.

There’s always a question at events like these from someone with an angry local concern. This time it was the roads around Wigan. The important thing for an event chair is to deal with the issue swiftly and move on. Just because one person thinks it important, doesn’t mean everyone else shares that feeling of discontent.

The Insider report from the event is here.

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Manchester Economic Forum 18/1/2012

20 Jan

Sir Richard Leese, Rachel Combie, Michael Taylor, Mike Emmerich

The most important element of a business breakfast event is the pace. People are sleepy, but they’ve been networking for 20 minutes or so beforehand, so it’s important that the debate they passively sit through is engaging.

Insider held the Manchester Economic Forum at Sunlight House, Quay Street, Manchester on the 18th of January 2012 and it was a good start to the year’s event programme.

With a consumate professional politician like Sir Richard Leese, the leader of Manchester City Council since 1996, I knew I was going to get off to a good start. He spoke for a little under the allocated ten minutes in order to allow more time for debate and questions.

The event was attended by over 100 people and the room looked full; there were hands raised to ask questions as well as those from people who’d pre-submitted their queries.

All the panel – Sir Richard, Mike Emmerich from new economy and Rachel Combie from Marketing Manchester – were clear speakers and were well prepared. They had evidence to back up their answers and exuded confidence. Half way way through the event Mike showed me a tweet that someone thought it a bit vanilla. That’s the beauty of such immediate feedback – you can do something about it.

I spiced up the questions with more direct “devil’s advocate” style points to Sir Richard and Mike on mayors and High Speed Rail, knowing I’d get a punchy response. All were in a positive and upbeat pace by this point.

By the time we finished on time with a question about the respective football teams, always guaranteed to elicit humour and some partisan joshing, the audience and panel were positively ebullient.

Coverage here on the Insider website.

Coverage here on John Leach’s blog, with comments.

Coverage here on Gary Chaplin’s blog, with comments.