BILT conferences are different from the other ones. Not only because they are organized on 4 continents (Europe, America, Asia and Australia) or because they take place in different cities every time. What distinguishes BILT from the other conferences is the fact, that it is the event organized by the users for the users. So what matters the most is content – knowledge sharing, experience exchanging as well as networking in the industry, and not as it happens on many events – advertisement and promotion all-over.
This year I was the speaker at the BILT (Buildings, Infrastructure, Life cycle, supported by Technology) Europe conference in Edinburgh, where I represented the SWECO company, in which I work every day. This year’s edition turned out to be the biggest conference organized by the DBEI (Digital Built Environment Institute) so far. It attracted over 400 attendants from all over the world. During my 75-minutes presentation, I described the effect of my 2-years of work on the parametrization of bridge constructions using Tekla and Grasshopper software. I have never before been on the event that offers so many opportunities to meet specialists from all over the world, who know their industry inside and out. It was also a unique opportunity to learn about the newest trends and technology progress in the construction industry – starting from 4D, 5D through drone on construction site and machine learning ending with artificial intelligence. And all of this happened just in one event, in one place!
Enough of the introduction. Here are 5 reasons why BILT is the best conference ever.
1. Adequate preparation — a guarantee of the high standard
The selection of the presentations takes place 9 months before the event. Already in February, each candidate for the speaker had to send the abstract of their potential topic, specify the required level of the attendees’ knowledge or write a few words about themselves and their motivation to be a part of the event. After less than 2 months the specially established committee selected 90 speakers from among over 350 applications. The place and date set, speakers confirmed, topics chosen – it would seem that committee members could pat themselves on the back and just sit back waiting for the big day. I didn’t work out with BILT that way – as it turned out, it was just the beginning. The whole preparation is long and demanding. In order not to leave everything until the last minute, the due dates of sending presentation materials were determined. They are strictly respected by the committee and apply to everyone. The dates help the committee to follow the work progress and at the same time to send comments as well as remarks to the presentations.
Four months before the conference each speaker had the opportunity to participate in the series of obligatory webinars. These were over an hour Skype meetings, where the practical tips were presented along with the discussion on the most frequent mistakes made at previous editions. Excellent lessons, especially for beginners taking their first steps in BILT.
Three months before the conference the speakers were required to prepare the list of the presentation content. The well-prepared plan is always the best starting point for a suitable workflow. Next, it was the time for the most time-consuming Handout, comprising almost the presentation transcript. Therefore, not only all the slides but also a detailed description of each one. Attendees have access to handouts during the conference through a specially prepared application. Additionally, they receive a printed copy and follow the presentation step by step, while taking their notes.
A month before the conference the presentation had to be finished and sent to the committee. Additionally, each speaker was obliged to select 2 slides representing the best tricks and tips included in the presentation. Such an organizer’s approach ensured a high level of each session. Early dates were an impulse and motivation to act. The speakers began to think about their topic in advance, hence they had enough time to provide the high quality.
2. Variety of the thematic panels
Each attendee faces quite a dilemma, as they might choose from among 100 sessions taking place within 3 days. These sessions are divided according to the field, level or form:
3. Incredible atmosphere
When I was going to BILT, I had imagined that I would meet world experts, CEOs of large companies, people who I can only see in the LinkedIn images and who, as I assumed, would be closed in their circles of acquaintances. I was surprised by people’s openness. At the previous events, I often experienced the exaltation of the experts and reluctance to establish new contacts. Here, it was the opposite way! Each of the attendees was keen to talk and exchange experiences. Nobody looked down on anyone. You are on BILT – you are a “my man”. The organizer played an important role here – organized an integration event for all the speakers, a trip to the construction site and an amazing gala at the end of the event.
4. Scottish charm
Also, the presentation of the city’s culture where the conference takes place is very interesting. When music was played – it was on a bagpipe; when formal clothes appeared– then with obligatory ‘Scottish charm’, when it comes to entertainment – wasn’t without swords and Scottish dance; food – means haggis, alcohol – whiskey. It is said that the devil is in the details, but as it turns out, there was also a magical atmosphere, allowing everyone to feel at ease and feel the atmosphere and culture of the host country.
Up to this day, I am still full of admiration for organizers. Great arrangement of the whole project along with the logistics deserves a medal. It is worth distinguishing the application DBEI Events created specifically for the conference, where it was possible to find all the necessary information concerning the conference schedule, session descriptions and speakers. We were also up to date with all the changes on the agenda. What is more, the sessions were rated through the app. Each attendee taking part in the presentation could give points and comment on the presentation as well as prepared handouts. After the conference, the speakers received the average rating and comments. My presentation received the 15th honourable place (on the 100 sessions) – decent result as a debut presentation
The upcoming BILT Europe is next year, this time in Valencia. I’ll try to qualify again and try myself, but this time with a different topic (I already have an idea!). However, before Valencia. I’ll turn a little on the southeast – 11 thousand kilometres – and stop by the BILT Asia 2020 organized in Singapore in April!!! Tickets are already bought, the excitement reaches level million, the topic is going over my head. Singapore I’m coming!