In Focus Sessions

We are delighted to announce that below speakers will be joining us on the Sunshine Coast in September 2017.

In Focus sessions will give you practical ideas to help you deliver various aspects of an event.

Speakers will be added to this page as they are announced.

Creating a Great Delegate Journey Before, During and After Your Business Event

The delegate experience begins from the moment they hear of your event until long after it concludes – for recurring events, it is, in fact, a never-ending cycle. In this session, you will learn how to develop an exceptional delegate experience through all possible touch points – not just on event day – and understand how this will keep your delegates coming back for more and grow attendance for future events.

Session Takeaways:
  • Understand when the delegate journey begins and ends to ensure your planning timeline engages with the delegate at the right time
  • Tips and tricks to engage with your delegates from the very beginning and guide them along the journey with you
  • Why the journey is important to the delegate and how it increases return attendance with minimal effort

Lauren Hayward

General Manager, Forum Group Events

Lauren Hayward is the General Manager of Forum Group Events (FGE), an award winning corporate event marketing and management agency, that has over 20 years’ experience in producing innovative, world-class events.

FGE's integrated campaign approach offers an end to end solution for clients' event and marketing objectives. Starting from the initial strategic planning, event marketing and management execution, through to post event activities that will guarantee ROI.

Lauren has extensive experience project managing event campaigns for global corporations such as Dell, Acer Computers and CA Technologies, working with senior managers to help them achieve their desired business outcomes, as well as retail brands such as Gloria Jean's Coffees and various Australian Government departments.

With a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Marketing and a Diploma of Event Management graduating with Distinction, Lauren was also notably awarded the 2013 Australian Event Awards Young Achiever of the Year, as well as the 2013 Meetings and Events Australia Event Manager of the Year and Future Leader Award for 2012.

Lauren was also the Chair of the Meetings and Events Australia NSW networking sub-committee from 2015 to 2016, a MEA committee member for four years, as well as a member of the MEA NSW Branch committee for two years.



Teasing and pleasing the tastebuds: Food and Wine Matching

The food and wine at a business event is one of the few opportunities to add an entirely new dimension to the experience of your event by engaging your attendees’ senses of smell and taste. So, when their brains are exhausted from information overload, don’t miss your chance to enchant their palate with an oasis of beautiful food with just the right wine. Whatever the occasion, don’t leave, ahem, a bitter taste in the mouth – let our culinary expert give you a crash course in how to give your menu and beverage selections – and your event – real pop.

Session Takeaways:
  • How to pick the right dishes to create a great menu from a standard venue menu selection
  • Food and wine provenance, local and regional
  • Develop event concepts to enhance the food and wine experience

Paul Baker

Head Chef, Botanic Gardens Restaurant - Adelaide

Paul has worked in some of the most exclusive restaurants in Australia, including the iconic Aria & Pello Restaurants in Sydney. He has spent time living and working in the South of France and also the Maldives, but now calls South Australia home.

On a trip to visit his wife's hometown of Adelaide in 2009, he fell in love with the state's abundant produce and the people behind it. This passion for local produce has lead him to become one of the state’s most prolific food ambassadors.

Paul’s inspiration for the restaurant comes from the Botanic Gardens 51 hectares of unique fruit and vegetables allowing the garden to dictate the menu.

The restaurant has received praise from local, national and international media. 2015 saw the restaurant rated one of the Hottest 50 restaurants in the country by the Weekend Australian Magazine and also rated in Gourmet Travelers top 100 restaurants in 2016. On top of this the restaurant has received 3 forks in both the 2016, 2017 Advertiser food guides and awarded Best Contemporary Restaurant 2014, 2015, 2016.

In 2015 Paul’s personal talents were recognized when he was awarded Advertiser Chef of the Year.

This year Paul will cook an exclusive ‘Taste of South Australia’ dinner at the prestigious James Beard House, New York.



Choosing the right entertainment and the secrets of timing to help shape your event

The entertainment can make or break your event regardless of the type of audience, the quality of venue or how good the food is. Just because it is a great act or band, does not mean it will work! This session discusses how best to combine the essential ingredients of choice of entertainment, timing, sound and lighting, to ensure you get the very best result for your special event.

Session Takeaways:
  • When and where to best slot different types of entertainment
  • Utilising “Surprise Entertainment” and how best to surprise your guests
  • Tricks on how the sound production can transform your event

Mark Bradley

Managing Director, Mark Bradley International

Having provided entertainment for over 12,000 events throughout 90 countries, Mark Bradley is a leader in the event industry with over 28 years of experience under his belt. With offices in New York, London and Sydney, he has an extensive client base from royalty, heads of state and celebrities through to multi national corporate and private clientele.

From opera singer to event photographer to creating the world’s most successful corporate act, The Three Waiters, Mark continues to create new acts, present new artists, and tailor performances to suit a changing market. With his extensive knowledge of the industry, Mark prides himself on advising the right type of entertainment for the right event.



To Stream or not to Stream? The paradox of not cannibalising your physical attendance by offering a live stream

Video has long been the most powerful communication tool for corporations, entertainment properties and sporting associations. With the explosion of user generated live video platforms and emerging technologies, such as AR, VR and 360, how do you keep your message consistent, engaging and accessible to your audience? This presentation will help you pick the right solutions.

Session Takeaways:
  • Understand the different streaming technologies and what each solution is best suited to
  • Identify the solution best suited to your event and accessible to your audience
  • Necessity of keeping up with latest technology and the need for its inclusion in your event

Conal McCullough

Director, Creo Media

With over 10 years of experience producing professional live streaming video, Conal has been there from the start, back when YouTube was still a twinkle in Google’s eye.

Conal has produced a diverse range of live shoots from sporting events, thought leadership panels, intimate audiences with the Pope, to international CEO announcements and major tech symposiums with more than 700 hours of presentation video being delivered over the two weeks of the Symposium. Live streaming from typical boardroom and conference center locations to the top of the Sydney Harbor Bridge or the middle of the Bass Straight, Conal’s previous 10 year stint living and working in over 40 countries as a ‘fixer’ in the oil industry gave him the experience to take on these challenging production projects.

Holding a B.Sc. in Electronic Engineering and a Diploma in Film and Television Production and a passion for all things tech, Conal has the right mix of technical smarts and creative communication to execute your strategy.



Transforming Spaces for Events

There’s nothing worse than a venue which doesn’t…quite…fit. Learn from our expert event stylist about how to make your venue work for you, from little nips and tucks to transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary. If you want to learn to think outside the box venue-wise, don’t miss this one.

Session Takeaways:

  • Hints and tips on what you can do to make a venue work for your event with a big and small budget
  • Creative inspiration on how to manipulate a space to suit your client’s intended outcome
  • Ideas on what styles and backdrops are available to you to consider using in your design of your event space

Marianne Edmonds

Director, LOUD events

Even the most incredible journeys start with a single step. Following a Business Degree at QUT and a stint pushing bad PR angles for a non-respected retail product for a non-respected retail company, Marianne approached an event company for the offer of a lowly admin job. It was here she realised she had missed her calling in life.

Marianne went on to experience a colourful international event practice that provided her with an amazing eight years of unprecedented industry experience throughout South East Asia.

Marianne then started her own freelancing event business in Brisbane, servicing corporates from around the nation including Lexus, IGA, Nutrimetics, Mercedes-Benz and Samsung.

After carrying out some charity work in Nicaragua in 2004, on a journey of self-discovery, Marianne returned to Brisbane to team up with fellow colleague and long-time friend, Helena Marshall to conceive LOUD conferences and events.

A venture that started in the back of a garage at Greenslopes, grew out of a strong belief that the Queensland corporate event world was set to boom. With an unprecedented passion for creating a whole load of fun, Marianne and Helena now lead an amazing family team of 16 including three carpenters, a steel worker and scenic artist. The two work hand-in-hand bringing entertainment, customised props and theming to life for corporate branding, launching, celebrating any occasion at all.



Cyber Security in Events: How to Avoid Becoming the Next Victim of Cyber Criminals

Website hacks, denial of service attacks, data theft of your registered attendees, attacks from hacktivist groups and state sponsored military organisations – there are many potential cyber security issues that can and should be guarded against in the world of events. It doesn’t have to be all technical jargon though – our event oriented cyber security expert will lead you through learnings from previous cyber attacks on events and show you how to avoid becoming the next victim.

Session Takeaways:

  • Why cyber security is important to events and event organisers
  • How cyber criminals are targeting major events
  • What you can do to protect yourself, your event and attendees against cyber criminals


Josh Lemon

Senior Manager, CSIRT, Salesforce

Josh Lemon is the Senior Manager for in their international Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT) that is responsible for protecting the company and its customers data from cyber attacks. Prior to this Josh was the CSIRT Manager for the Commonwealth Bank of Australia managing one of the largest dedicated incident response teams in the Australian commercial sector. He has over 10 years of experience in the cyber security industry and has previously worked as a Managing Consult for BAE Systems Applied Intelligence where he managed all technical cyber security services for the Asia Pacific region and oversaw large and complex cyber security investigations and offensive security engagements.

Prior to his time in the cyber security industry Josh spent 10 years in the Events and Entertainment industry. Graduating from NIDA (The National Institute of Dramatic Art) with a Bachelor's degree in Technical Production he went on to work on many national and international events. Some of his highlights include: work as Technical Coordinator on international touring concerts, Technical Director for international musicals, and Technical Coordinator and Consultant on major events including multiple Sydney New Year’s Eve events, World Youth Day 2008, and numerous NSW State Government events. While working in the events industry Josh also spent time consulting with event organisers on how to incorporate reliable and secure technology into their events to streamline operations and better engage audiences.

Josh has since gone on to provide cyber security investigation services and simulated cyber attack services to Government, Law Enforcement, and the Commercial sector. He currently holds multiple international certifications in cyber security and lectures on investigating cyber attacks at Universities in Sydney and to international audiences for the SANS Institute.




An Arts Event with a Difference: Creating the Unexpected

What role can events play in highlighting the singularity of cities and regions, making them more attractive to both visitors and residents? The City of Greater Geelong’s biennial Mountain to Mouth Extreme Arts Walk (M~M) is simultaneously a pilgrimage event and a permanent trail, establishing an 80km Contemporary Songline footprint across the Geelong and Queenscliff regions, in the footsteps of Wadawurrung traditional owners. This session will explore how journey can be fused with ephemeral artworks, technology and ceremonies to powerfully and innovatively connect a diversity of significant ecosystems and communities.

Session Takeaways:

  • Ways of tapping into local knowledge through community engagement to create a unique and meaningful event
  • Tips for collaborating effectively with local government and stakeholders
  • Using mobile technology to connect people to places of significance


Duncan Esler

Co-ordinator, Arts and Culture Unit, City of Greater Geelong

Duncan is Co-ordinator of the Arts and Culture Unit, a part of City of Greater Geelong’s Arts and Culture Department. In this role he co-ordinates diverse arts events, projects and cultural programs with the aim of increasing participation in and attendance to arts and cultural activities and events throughout the Geelong municipality. Key aspects of this work include project managing the multi-award-winning Mountain to Mouth Extreme Arts Walk and night arts event Geelong After Dark, Council’s digital cultural presence including cultural tourism apps such as Connecting Memory and Geelong Arts and Culture Trails, overseeing Council’s Community Arts and Festivals Grants program and the Central Geelong Live Music Action Plan. He also has an advocacy and strategic advisory role within Council pertaining to arts and culture.

Duncan has worked within the arts and culture sector for over 25 years, including previous engagement at Geelong Performing Arts Centre, and has also worked extensively throughout Australia and Asia as a professional vocalist, actor, event producer and recording artist. He is a former member of the Regional Advisory Committee of the Australian Dance Council, and currently represents Council on the board of Courthouse Youth Arts.




The Deadly Sins of Event Technology and How to Avoid Them

To tech or not to tech, that is the question. If you’ve ever wondered whether all the fuss about event technology is really worth the effort it requires, this session will help you to understand how you pick and choose which event tech you use. We will discuss a number of factors including manageability, return on investment as well as the impact on delegate and sponsor experience.

Session Takeaways:

  • Understand what technology is available to you and how to best use it
  • Identify whether or not the use of technology is best suited to your event by looking at the intended outcomes, return on investment and audience experience
  • How to select the appropriate technology for your event that best delivers the intended outcome and positively impacts the delegate and sponsor experience


Clifford Fairbrass

Partner Engagement Manager; Sponsorship & Event Manager, McCorkell & Associates

For over ten years, Clifford Fairbrass has excelled in bringing vendors, partners and industry supply chain specialists together to negotiate the delivery of both B2B and B2C events.

In his day to day role at McCorkell & Associates, Clifford is primarily responsible for ensuring the financial viability of some of Australia's largest IT events, and he personally generates upward of AU$3 Million a year in sponsorship agreements.

He is a dealmaker, a tough negotiator, crowd pleaser, budget wrangler, clever marketer and a keen technologist who places the delegate experience above all when orchestrating the best possible outcomes for M&a clients.

Always on the lookout for innovations that will deliver second-to-none event outcomes, Clifford has seen a number of technology trends come and go over the past 10 years and he has some strong advice for when technology truly paves the way for a remarkable event and when it risks getting in the way of your goals.

Clifford's keen insight on what's hot and what's not in the world of event technology is sure to educate, challenge and entertain.


Curating and Producing Conference and Seminar Content

The content of your conference sessions is one of the primary reasons many delegates will register for your event and one of the biggest drivers for those in charge to give the greenlight for attendance. Your content has the opportunity to inspire, spark new ideas, entertain and deliver skills to industry and individuals. Learn how to give your content a lift, keep your delegates engaged, informed and entertained and, very importantly, in your sessions rooms. From lectures, to workshops and roundtables, get tips on how to develop a dynamic program which will give your delegates a bang for their buck.

Session Takeaways:

  • Identifying the needs of your audience and delivering content to meet their expectations and professional development outcomes
  • Tips and tricks to keep your audience engaged within the session room
  • Creative ideas to turn around standard content to entertain your delegates and gain repeat attendance through positive delegate experience


Simon Relph

Managing Director, VisiBel Group

Since completing a Bachelor’s degree in Business Marketing in 1997, Simon has gone on to have a successful, international career in event management and is invited to chair and emcee a number of conferences and industry trade events.

Simon started on the gritty sales floor of an international conference company selling delegate packages and worked his way up through the industry to take senior management roles in Conference Curation, Event Management and Marketing in Auckland, New Zealand and Los Angeles, U.S.A.

After moving to London, Simon formed a corporate marketing and management consultancy advising some of the leading national charities and FT500 companies on strategies to expand their current portfolio of events and explore strategic partnerships in Europe and Asia to grow profitability.

Upon returning to Australia, Simon worked with Staging Connections as the General Manager for their Cairns office. In 2009, he launched VisiBel Events, once again providing PCO, Event Management and content curation services for some of the leading exhibition companies and associations in Australia.

In his spare time, Simon also studies and teaches Mandarin.