Insights and Highlights

Cooking up fresh ideas using #OpenSpace at #IABC18

Not sure what to make of the invite to the Open Space session coming up at World Conference? It can be hard to imagine what it might be like if you haven’t been to one before. If you haven’t ‘tasted the format so to speak.

Well, to that end, here’s ‘one we prepared earlier’. It is a term you might be familiar with if you’ve ever watched a cooking show, but it’ll hopefully work here too. We’ll look at both the recipe for a good Open Space event, and what can come out of one. 

The recipe (in its simplest form)

You’ll need:

  • People
  • An open space
  • Some paper and some markers
  • A few basic ground rules

For a closer look at this in action – and more about the ground rules (which may be very different than you expect) see this brief thread):

Cooking up fresh ideas using Open Space

Let’s take a practical look at what can come out of an Open Space session—by looking at one we prepared earlier.

Specifically one of the many conversations that took place during the Open Space at #Eurocomm18, organised by the IABC EMENA Region—and expertly convened by Ian Andersen and Mike Klein.   

From the panoply of topics to choose from, a subset of the attendees opted for a focused conversation exploring:

How to make conferences more ‘Talk With than Talk At

What follows are from the shared notes from participants Mette, Lee, Jo, Mirjam, Maria, Jesper, Alistair + (hosts Martin, and me, Michael) – big thanks to all who contributed: 

What did we learn through the discussion?

  • What makes a great (and participative) conference.
  • Barriers and how to overcome them.
[These insights are summarised and listed further down].

We also set out an action plan will help us make more conferences Talk-With rather than Talk-At. And we discussed who else might get involved over time, beyond the Open Space discussion: those who participate in – or plan conferences.

We also agreed some next steps and a call to action

  • This is a Creative-Commons based project based on sharing insights to achieve change—including through this article. This means others can reuse/remix the output.
  • If you find it useful, share it. If you have a different topic that you’re passionate about—turn up at the Open Space at World Conference and explore it with others! Or build on this one…be sure to let us know.

How did the group arrive at the above?

We used a format called Focused Conversation (or ORID amongst friends) to help the conversation flow – asking Objective, then Reflective, then Interpretive and finally Decisional questions. Et enabled us to cover a lot of territory in a very short time.

To warm up we shared experiences of conferences we’d been to, including critical elements that had help drive participation.

2018 #Eurocomm18 Open Space Discussion - Making conference more Talk With than Talk At

Table: Some of the examples from the #Eurocomm18 Open Space Discussion – Making conference more Talk With than Talk At.

We then dug deeper—discussion both opportunities and barriers to participation in more detail.

Conference experiences – what’s good for participation / what is difficult?


  • Active listening
  • The use of multiple dynamics / approaches
  • Marketplaces for ideas / concepts allowing movement – and immersion
  • Technology (Slido and Mentimeter can work well)


  • Panels sometimes = sequential monologues.
  • Too heavily stacked programmes.
  • Conferences driven by status rather than exchange.
  • Technology (death by PowerPoint and assorted tech SNAFUs).

Having mapped that out we started discussing what might be done…

Practical ideas for people who want to make conferences more Talk With than Talk At

We shared lots of ideas, here are the ones most relevant to those attending #IABC18—ideas you can run with for your own conference or event.

For now though you can show your support of Talk With approaches by RTing/liking—because we want to make this post interactive too.

1) Provocation can work well—looking at a topic in new way fires up the crowd for the break, sparking new conversations

A good keynote does that. Look out for these.

Ask an open ended question in advance

Survey the audience in advance

Give participants home work / advance work

Foster cross-pollination / benign collision

Participate in the Open Space session – and don’t forget to sign up for Dine Around!

And whilst it is not officially on the World Conference programme, you could pick up on this idea from Jesper Andersen. All you need are the group of new friends you’ll meet in Montréal:

Host a #FAIL celebration

“At MeasureCamp in Copenhagen in 2017, we had a session called “Analytics Therapy”. In it, we sat in a circle and everyone had a beer (if they wanted one). We then went around the room and every person had to say something analytics-related they struggled with (maybe a client or a technical issue. If others shared that pain, they had to raise their beer and toast the speaker.

It was a lot of fun because it was very visible to everyone that the problems each of us thought we were alone with were actually very common problems – and that led to talk about how to fix them. Plus, we got to drink a lot of beer at the end of a long conference day :-)” – @startsnakken

Now you’ve seen what can happen when a group of people get together in an impromtu way. And had some fun too! Others from the group will undoubtedly share more of the ideas in the future through more articles and blogs, but for now: do you have a topic you’d like to explore? Come along to the Open Space session at #IABC18!

It is hosted by Michael Nord and Mike Klein. You’ll be in good hands.

I wish I could be there. Be sure to let me know how you get on. I’m @michaelambjorn and I am grateful to Mette, Lee, Jo, Mirjam, Maria, Jesper, Alistair and Martin without whom this article could not have been written.

About the author / Michael Ambjorn (@michaelambjorn) is a committed espresso drinker, #OpenSpace aficionado and an SCMP. He provides 1:1 advice to Chairs, Chief Execs and senior leaders on strategy, change and turnarounds. He is particularly interested in how strategic alignment can focus people – enabling renewal and growth. With his colleagues at AlignYour.Org, he facilitates strategy for organisations that want to enable all their people to put a shoulder to the wheel. Through courses and 1:1 coaching and mentoring they also work to develop the next generation of leaders.






Meet our three CEO panelists

For the morning general session on Tuesday, 5 June, at the IABC World Conference, we’ll hold a discussion with several top CEOs on their vision and ideas for how communication can make a demonstrable contribution to business success.

Moderated by Hugues Mousseau, vice president and partner with Syrus Reputation, the panel will also unveil the results of Syrus Reputation’s 2018 Global CEO survey, providing a unique look into the contribution of business communicators to the achievement of corporate successes.

The session will explore the question of whether business communicators are positioned to be the next chief strategy officers. It will also look at the idea that most successful CEOs are not only prolific at mastering corporate finance, operations, strategy, sales or human resources, they also display superior leadership abilities. Additionally, CEOs must also aspire to become expert communicators, while promoting and protecting their company’s reputation. In that capacity, they are surrounded by trusted business communicators acting as trusted advisers, whose role expands beyond the articulation of the CEO’s vision and objectives, and increasingly toward shaping corporate strategy.

Not all CEOs value the strategic contribution of business communication to the achievement of business objectives in the same magnitude. Come meet three successful CEOs prepared to share their thoughts and experience in working with business communicators. Are we contributing to the success of the business as much as we believe? Can we do more? What can we do to see our strategic contribution be better valued? We’ll tackle all of these issues and more.

If you are familiar with a CEO with a major organization, please help us by forwarding the Global CEO survey to them. It will only take five minutes of their time to fill out the survey and it will make a big different to our collective knowledge about how communication can support CEOs, as they work to elevate their organizations.

CEO Panelists

Luc Sabbatini

Chief Executive Officer, PBSC Urban Solutions

Luc Sabbatini is CEO of PBSC, a leading global provider of sustainable mobility solutions for smart cities. Deeply passionate about innovation, design, technology, and urban planning, each of Luc’s professional endeavors has destined him to hold his current role at PBSC. He namely spearheaded the media activities of one of the world’s largest telecommunications providers, while serving as a corporate director for some of the fastest growing players in the areas of marine logistics, environmental services, architecture and interactive gaming.

As an entrepreneur and venture capitalist, Luc strives to shape a world where every person can fulfill their purpose by taking advantage of the most affordable, sustainable and efficient mobility solutions possible. Over the past couple of years, Luc has propelled the growth of PBSC, taking it from the local success story that is the BIXI scheme in Montréal, Canada, to a world-renowned reference in the development, deployment and operation of bike sharing technologies.

Having graduated from the prestigious schools of HEC Montréal and Harvard University, Luc continues to invest both time and resources to further important social, academic and entrepreneurial initiatives that are close to his heart. A highly solicited speaker, he regularly shares his views on urban tech and mobility-as-a-service at conferences and industry events such as the World Cities Summit and the Ferrovial Mobility Executive Forum, in addition to being profiled in global publications such as Monocle, and featured in the prestigious Top 40 Under 40 list, recognizing excellence in business leaders across Canada.

Eugène Lapierre

Tournament Director, Rogers Cup presented by National Bank, and Senior Vice-President, Professional Tennis – Québec, Tennis Canada

Eugène Lapierre is Tournament Director of the Rogers Cup presented by National Bank, an ATP WorldTour Masters 1000 and WTA Premier tournament, since 2001. He is also the Senior Vice-President, Québec at Tennis Canada.

Prior to his current role, Eugène held various leadership responsibilities among tennis development programs across Québec. Due to his unique vision for the development of sports infrastructure across the country and the creation, in Montréal, of a new National Training Centre, he is often credited as one of the main architects of the emergence of Montréal as central hub of tennis in Canada. Under his leadership, the Rogers Cup is recognized globally as one of the most successful tennis tournaments after the Grand Slams with yearly record attendance.

Founded in 1890, Tennis Canada is a non-profit, national sport association with a mission to lead the growth of tennis in Canada and a vision to become a world-leading tennis nation. All the profits generated from the Rogers Cup events in Montréal and Toronto are reinvested annually in the development of tennis across the country. Tennis Canada prides itself as promoting values of teamwork, passion, integrity, innovation and excellence.

Ralph Hosker

President and CEO, Belron Canada

Ralph Hosker is President of Belron Canada since June 2009. In this capacity, he oversees the activities of some 350 corporate and franchised service centres, as well as 40 warehouses or distribution centres across Canada – operated by a team of over 1800 employees.

He joined the ranks at Belron in 2000 as Director of supply chain management and international supply management. Prior to working at Belron, Ralph held various logistics and supply chain roles namely at United Biscuits, and also spent five years as a logistics consultant for Coopers and Lybrand.

Ralph obtained a combined French and German degree at Durham University, England. He lives in Montréal, Canada, with his wife and kids.


Moderator Hugues Mousseau holds over 15 years of experience in corporate affairs and communications in the public, parapublic and private sectors.

In addition to having led teams in charge of the entire spectrum of corporate affairs and communications, he also headed communication for several mergers and acquisitions processes. Additionally, Hugues held management or consultant positions in the media, telecommunications, automotive, retail, aerospace, food, environment, pharmaceutical and health services sectors.

Solicited equally for his corporate strategy expertise than for his experience as speechwriter, media spokesperson and financial communicator, Hugues holds university degrees in political science, business administration and public law.

Register now

Download the app for the World Conference

Get the most out your 2018 World Conference experience with the conference app. It has all the important information you’ll need for the event, like the schedule, maps, and speaker evaluations, as well as features to enhance your event experience. Here’s how to download it and get started building your schedule, connecting with other attendees, and getting oriented.

Step 1: Download the app.

All registered conference attendees should have received an email about downloading the app. The email contains complete instructions for downloading the app and verifying your account. The easiest way to do this it to open the email on the device you’re bringing to the event and follow the steps.

Step 2: Verify your account.

Go back to the email using the same device from Step 1 and click Verify Account to unlock all of the app’s advanced features.

Can’t find the email with the download link? You can also search for “IABC World Conference” in your app store and download it from there. To access all the app features, you’ll need to log in with a verification code, which will be emailed to you.

How to use the app

Once you’ve downloaded the app, you can find information about its features by tapping the “How to use the app” icon on the home screen. This section will give you instructions for using features like:

  • Creating a customized schedule.
  • Editing your attendee profile.
  • Playing the photo scavenger hunt game.
  • Evaluating sessions and speakers.
  • Networking with other attendees and setting up appointments.

For each new action you take on the app, you’ll earn points in the “Get to know the app” game. The first person to get the maximum number of points will win a great prize from one of our exhibitors. So start exploring and earning points!

Don’t have iOS or Android? Access all the information through the mobile web version of the app.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.We look forward to seeing you in Montréal!

Gold Quill Award sessions at World Conference!

This year, we’re offering special breakout sessions from some of our most exceptional 2018 Gold Quill Award winners. You’ll get the benefit of learning about how top communication professionals applied high-level strategy and planning to create communication programs that will make a lasting difference for their organizations.

Sessions that inform and inspire

Don’t miss the opportunity to get a debrief on inspirational real-life case studies that exemplify best practices in organizational communication. Gold Quill sessions are scheduled alongside the regular breakout sessions.

Learn more and Gold Quill sessions.

Join the sparkling Excellence Gala

And don’t forget the celebratory part of the Gold Quill Awards program, the elegant Excellence Gala, where you’ll get the chance to raise your glass to the best communication professionals in the industry. Plus, you’ll enjoy a sumptuous meal, outstanding entertainment, topped off with music and dancing.

Learn more about the Gala.



Attending World Conference for the first time? We’ve got you covered.

Never attended the IABC World Conference before? Wondering how to get the most out of it? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Join IABC leaders on the first full day of programming for a short session where we’ll explain the ins and outs of the program, background on the different events and top tips on getting the best out of your conference experience.

The Meet and Greet session starts at 8:15 am on Monday, 4 June. Just grab a coffee and breakfast at the Hub exhibit hall and head over to the gathering in room 518 ABC at the Palais des congrès de Montréal.  This event is included with a standard/full or Monday day pass registration.

If you can’t make it to the Meet and Greet, we still want you to feel welcome! As you register, we’ll provide you with a “First Time” ribbon. IABC leaders will be looking out for those ribbons so that they can support your conference experience and answer any questions you may have. And, you can stop by IABC Central in the exhibit hall on Monday and Tuesday where IABC staff will be there to welcome you and to talk through any questions you may have.

Register today!

Staffbase sponsor keynote: Reaching Non-Desk Workers

The Staffbase customer panel presentation, “Reaching Non-Desk Workers: Real-Life Lessons from SAK Construction and US AutoLogistics,” will be on Tuesday, 5 June, 8–8:45 a.m.

Communication with a non-desk workforce is an ongoing struggle for many organizations. Scott Linke, Marketing Manager for SAK Construction, and Troy Griggsby, Communications & Brand Manager for US AutoLogistics, discuss their challenges in reaching non-desk workers and how they combine traditional and digital channels to make their communication efforts successful. The panel is completed by Staffbase co-founder Frank Wolf who shares typical questions and answers about popular mobile channels like employee apps. Participants can expect to get hands-on advice and authentic stories on how to reach them all!

Learn more…



Be part of the Global CEO Survey

As we prepare for the IABC World Conference, we invite you to ask the CEOs in your network to take part in a survey that will be featured at the event. The survey is short and will take only 3–4 minutes to complete.

The survey will measure a CEO’s assessment of the strategic contribution of business communicators to the achievement of their organization’s business objectives. Moderated by Hugues Mousseau, vice president and partner with Syrus Reputation, the results of Syrus Reputation’s 2018 Global CEO Survey will be presented during the CEO panel discussion at the World Conference on 5 June under the theme “Are business communicators the next chief strategy officers?”

Forward this survey to CEOs in your network

Thank you for your help with getting CEO responses from across jurisdictions, industries, organization types and sizes. If you have questions, please contact the World Conference Program Advisory Chair, Neil Griffiths.

Join Dine-Around Montréal!

Montréal is the perfect place to be hungry! Lauded as a foodie haven, Montréal has cultivated a modern haute food culture. Blend in the Old World charm and you have the perfect ingredients for an evening of fun, food, and fantastic conversation!

What is Dine-Around?

Dine-Around is a long-time IABC tradition where you can take an evening to explore the city via a wide array of cuisines with small groups of 8 to 10 of your fellow communicators.

When is Dine-Around?

Day: Monday, 4 June 2018

Time: Dine-Around group hosts will meet at 6:30 p.m. at the Palais de congrès de Montréal. Participants, please arrive by 6:45 as we will depart from the Palais des congrès de Montréal at 7 p.m. Restaurant reservations are at 7:45 p.m.

How do we pay for Dine-Around?

Each diner is responsible for his or her own check. We have arranged for separate checks with each restaurant for your convenience. If you choose to split a menu item, please designate whose check will cover it and arrange privately to reimburse that person for your share.

Where is Dine-Around?

The Dine-Around is taking place at 23 restaurants around Montréal. Most are within walking distance of the Palais des congrès de Montréal. Others will require a short taxi ride. Low-cost and mid-range options are available, as are opportunities to experience high-end cuisine prepared by world-renowned chefs.

French Connection Happy Hour: You’re invited!

The Montréal chapter of the IABC is delighted to invite the entire Québec business communications and public relations industry to join us for a very special event that happens only once in a decade. Organized by the Montréal chapter, in collaboration with the Alliance des cabinets de relations publiques du Québec (ACRPQ) and in association with the Société québécoise des professionnels en relations publiques du Québec (SQPRP), this Happy Hour will be a rare occasion to:

  • Meet communication and public relations professionals from around the world who will be gathered in Montréal for the IABC World Conference.
  • Network with peers from major professional associations in Québec, such as IABC, ACRPQ, SQPRP, RPSF and student associations.

Interested in speaking at the 2019 World Conference? Join us at a special session

Calling 2019 World Conference speakers! If you’ve ever thought about presenting at IABC’s World Conference, we want to talk to you! New this year, we’ll host a “2019 Speaker Jump-Start” session for all prospective speakers for next year’s 2019 World Conference. This session is part of Unconference on Tuesday, 5 June.

The theme for 2019 will be on what’s hot in business and communication today and what we see on the horizon. Think about what you’re doing that is contemporary, cool, trending, new—and how those things will impact our profession not just in the near term but in the future.

In this session, you’ll get insight into the speaker selection process and receive valuable feedback to make sure your 2019 speaking submission is the best it can possibly be. This session is your opportunity to spend about five minutes discussing your 2019 presentation idea with the World Conference planning team.

Easy to participate

It’s simple to participate. Just develop a five-minute overview of your topic, which can be as formal or informal as you like, in the form of an idea discussion, a mini-presentation, an outline description, etc. You’ll want to include key take-aways, alignment to the 2019 theme, case study ideas and any questions you have for the team.