Summit to talk about

Glass Times editor Nathan Bushell reflects on a successful event at Edgbaston last week.

The Glazing Summit, which took place at Edgbaston last Thursday, took what succeeded at last year’s event and improved on them.

That was the overwhelming response I got from delegates who attended from across the UK, who were interested to learn more about the key topics of the day, including sustainability, Brexit, marketing, regulations, smart tech, and the skills crisis, among others.

The day followed a similar structure to last year, with panels of ‘industry leaders’ answering questions from a compere, alongside keynote presentations.

It worked well, and the day progressed smoothly and professionally. However, while I learned one or two bits of new information (hard figures from Insight Data to back up what we already know anecdotally are always useful), there were no ‘bombshell’ moments. For example, readers of Glass Times will have had access to all the information that was discussed on stage.

However, there was one aspect of the day that I was truly impressed with. Glazing Summit’s organisers had chosen to use an app – Slido (which was also available via a website) – that allowed delegates to ask questions during the debate or keynote that were then put to the speakers at the end of their slot. It worked well in so many ways. For example, it allowed people to properly consider their questions before asking, it levelled the playing field between the shy and the confident, and it allowed the event’s organisers to screen the questions to keep them relevant.

It also added to the smooth running of the Glazing Summit; there was none of that awkwardness you get when people run around with microphones, delegates waving their arms around so that not everything can be heard, the wireless cutting out, and loudmouths who feel as though they don’t need a microphone and choose to shout instead. You get the picture.

The downside, however, was that the room was quiet, and there was a bit of a disconnect between the stage and the audience, and we lost some of that robust to and fro that we are used to in the glazing industry. It is, after all, a networking event. Also, a lot of good questions that were asked (delegates could read them as they were uploaded) were never put to the stage.

What I suggest is that future events use the Slido app to frame the debate, but that the identity of questioners are made public so that a bit more audience participation is encouraged.

Furthermore, there was a feeling among some of the delegates that events like the Glazing Summit amount to nothing more than a talking shop, which don’t produce anything concrete. Here’s an idea: since the GGF is a headline sponsor of the Glazing Summit, wouldn’t it be a great focus for the day if any conclusions to the discussions would be taken away by the federation and acted upon? Skills Crisis? Here’s a plan of action. Negative publicity surrounding plastic? We’ll support Eurocell’s online myth-busting document. Is the approach to smart tech fragmented? Here is a suggested industry framework. Again, you get the idea.

Finally, I really enjoyed listening to Olympian Roger Black at the Leaders’ Dinner talk about his route from medical student to silver medallist. He also stayed behind at the end to talk to people and show off his medals. Modest, funny and inspiring.