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Unlocking the Opportunity: National Conference

Published on 14 July 2021

Unlocking the Opportunity: National Conference

Our National Conference focusses on our individual communities of Leadership, Planning, Insight and Quality providing a community focus to develop topics, discuss challenges, share ideas and learn from fellow professionals. The last face-to-face Forum event was in November 2019 in Manchester. The pandemic gave us an opportunity to do something different and experiment with virtual events which have proved extremely popular. With the opportunity to hold face-to-face events now opening up, it gives us another opportunity to experiment. 

The question now is: How do we combine the best of virtual and face-to-face?


The 3 key principles for our virtual conferences are: structured sessions, formal discussions and intended learning, creating focussed time to learn about a specific topic in a variety of ways. 

Keynotes provide a spotlight to shine on a business leader, so they can share their experience. The audience can sit back and enjoy and participate by submitting comments and questions. 

Workshops provide an opportunity to explore a topic, hear from a range of sources from industry best-practice, thought-leading ideas and practical case study examples. Breakout room discussions give the audience the chance to share their reflections, challenges and issues whilst discussing possibilities and priorities.

Showcases give the opportunity to demonstrate and bring to life, showing and telling. The audience can participate with questions and feedback.

A week-long agenda offers you the opportunity to pick and choose the sessions just right for you, in a bite-sized approach. Hopefully, you can fit these sessions around your business-as-usual activity.

Everything is recorded (whether we like it or not!), so all sessions are available on-demand, almost immediately. After a quick edit, we make the sessions available to watch back.


The 3 key principles for our face-to-face conference are unstructured collaboration, informal networking and chance meetings, creating a safe environment for people to learn and share.

Obviously, our face-to-face event on 9th November, at Crewe Hall, will carry the “subject to restrictions” small print. However, we are confident that we will be able to get some people together to collaborate.

Though trying to be unstructured, there will be a loose agenda to the day designed to stimulate thinking and discussion.

To launch the day, there will be an inspiring keynote designed to open the mind and promote fresh thinking.

The rest of the day will be a mixture of collaboration and networking in an expo area. Start thinking now about the questions you want to ask, the topic areas you want to explore and the different organisations and industries you want to learn from. By combining facilitated round-table discussions and informal networking we guarantee fresh ideas and chance meetings (*subject to restrictions!

Who should attend the face-to-face event?

  1. Do you have a conference place in your membership?
  2. Are you available on 9th November and can you travel to Crewe?
  3. Do you like talking?

The face-to face-event is on Tuesday, 9th November at Crewe Hall. It’s a great location, close to the railway station and M6, ideally placed for same day travel from most UK locations. And as it’s a hotel, staying over couldn’t be easier.

The day is all about collaboration and talking to fellow members and key technology providers. There is an opening keynote but after this its discussions followed by more discussions. In summary this is an event for people who love to talk.

Places are strictly for members only, using their membership conference places. There is an upper capacity (*subject to restrictions), so we need to operate a first come first served policy – there is enough space for every member, we just need a name to confirm the space. 

We would really appreciate knowing if you can’t come, so that we can offer your place to another member. It would be such a shame if there were available spaces due to “no-shows” with a list of people all desperate to attend – so please help us to help you. 

Who should attend the virtual event?

  1. Do you have a virtual conference place? Membership, or Assisted Learning Pathway
  2. Are you available w/c 1st November?
  3. Do you want to learn and share ideas?

We will operate the same flexible approach to our virtual conference, with your membership conference place split out across multiple people if needed. As a rule of thumb, think of your conference place allowing you to book 5 live sessions (e.g. 2 keynotes, 2 workshops, 1 technology showcase). This could mean, in the extreme, 5 people could each attend 1 session each, or 2 people watching 2/3 sessions each etc.

As the conference is virtual there is almost no limit to how many people attend each session, so if you’d like to purchase more places for either individual sessions, or multiple sessions just let us know.

The virtual conference is ideal for those who want to develop their specialist skills in Planning, Insight & Quality. Each session will include thought leadership, with the workshops allowing time to develop the topic with facilitated discussion.

The week-long agenda will be updated on our website as it is finalised. If you would like a specific topic to be covered but can’t see it on the agenda, please let us know. We may plan to discuss it but haven’t mentioned this detail in the session description, or we may be covering this in another event.

It’s another exciting time for The Forum and we look forward to you being involved. As always if you have any other ideas or suggestions for us, please let us know.  

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Author: Leanne McNamee

Categories: Library, Planning & Resourcing