First, thank you for the kind words. Obviously I was tickled pink last night and sensed a wide degree of satisfaction in the event. But these words here today, after a good night's sleep, do really make me feel very happy.
I want to mention that as Chair I can only match the potential (or make it worse) but the Chair, on the day, cannot fix a bad event. In other words, there is nothing at all that any Chair could possibly do to try to salvage any event that had been poorly planned or which had speakers of bad quality. Here with the Forum Oxford Conference, Ajit and Peter had done a fantastic job in designing the event and securing incredible speakers. I want to be very clear about this - we worked as a team, but specifically for this conference, Peter managed the arrangements (with his staff) and Ajit coordinated the speakers. I helped maybe a bit with a few suggestions every now and then, but these preparations were all Peter and Ajit. When I showed up on Thursday night, the die was cast, and as Chair, I was totally at their mercy as in any conference - would the speakers and arrangements be up to the challenge.
And obviously, we could all see that the speakers were absolute top notch, brilliantly prepared, professional, exceptionally honest and open, and insightful. Not one sales pitch (that's rare). Not one out-of-date presentation (I've NEVER seen that). Not one of OVERLAP (I've never seen that EITHER). A SUBLIME level of preparation and thought and work by Ajit and Peter to achieve this.
It was purely my fun and joy to chair this event, not for one second ashamed of a speaker ruining the moment, as we Chairs so often cringe when some amateour speaker messes it up royally in front of an audience.
So from the preparation, onto the speakers. My job really started only in the morning of Friday the 13th. I introduced speakers, timed them (and all kept to their original timings very well) and then coordinated the discussion.
In the discussions I did err quite badly in allowing the discussions to go on way too long in terms of "keeping to the schedule" and in this way, it was purely my fault that we ended so badly behind schedule towards the end. But also, I could see that for each speaker there were still several questions that we did NOT have time for, so it seemed clear that you as the delegates did want the discussion, and I decided right from the start, that I'll allow for 5 minutes per speaker of extra discussion time beyond what was in the programme - simply because the Forum Oxfrod membership clearly wanted to discuss and debate. That was why several times several speakers looked at me in puzzlement knowing I had said 5 minutes and they had finished on time, but now we went 10 minutes into Q&A. But equally, clearly, the speakers enjoyed the intelligent discussions very immensely.
I trust the event did not suffer by this decision by me to stretch the time to allow more discussion.
But yes, the speakers. As chair, there is also nothing I can do to salvage the end benefit to the audience, if the speakers don't deliver. But I do get the benefit of presiding over an event when the speakers themselves are good. I am a totally undeserving benefactor when the speakers themselves are brilliant - stick to the topic, have well timed and rehearsed presentations and answer questions honestly and insightfully.
So then we did have the true cream of the crop at our conference.
I do want to thank personally, individually: Adrian Blair of Google, who gave us a beautiful view of what Google can contribute to the future of mobile.
Then Professor Ed Candy of Three/Hutchison who gave such a positive view of an operator who "gets it" and supports this industry.
And to thank Daniel Applequist of Vodafone whose views were well in harmony with Ed Candy's, probably surprising many in the audience.
A wonderful presentation on the road maps of handsets from the always amazing David Wood of Symbian.
William Webb of Ofcom and his inspiring view and visions into the next 20 years of our industry.
Jeff Sonstein of Rochester Institute of Technology and his practical guidance on design for mobile applications
Vladimir Dimitroff's beautiful lead in the debates about what is convergence and do we need it
Nick Sex and Scott Beaumont with their beautiful case study of a start up
Simon Cavil's wonderful real time demonstration of mobile payments
And for me perhaps the most inspiring and uplifting presentation in a day of fantastic contributions, Russell Buckley's live setup of a mobile ad campaign before our eyes.
I want to thank our speakers. This event was easy to chair, the speakers made me look good.
And the audience. As we were already familiar with debate and discussion, it was no surprise there would be many questions. But even so, the best feeling I got was listening to the intense buzz at each break and the lunch time, when our delegates so intensely engaged with new friends and contacts.
For those who left earlier, when I started my presentation on 7th Mass Media and my closing statements, we still had 77 people (out of the peak of 99) in attendance - and we were already 1 hour 15 minutes past the scheduled END of the event, on a Friday night. That says to me, that if people stay to the end on a Friday, they found it useful. And the last ones stayed till 8 PM - two hours past the last deadline of our bar closing, to continue networking and sharing ideas.
I am so proud of this event. It could not have been possible without the enormously hard work by Peter and Ajit. And the day itself lived and died by the professionalism of our speakers. And the best part was the active participation of the audience.
I've done over 180 conferences. This was by far the best organized event, with the best cast of speakers, and with the most actively participating audience.
For me it ran on auto-pilot, it did not need my contribution at all. It was truly my pleasure and honour to host, not chair, this event. Thank you all !
And looking so much forward to the next event.
Your HatRat/Tomi :-)