Meet the Speaker: Tony Banks

The Stroke Association is the UK’s leading charity dedicated to rebuilding lives after stroke. Tony leads a team of event professionals who deliver some of the charity’s biggest conferences and special events. This includes the award winning UK Life After Stroke Awards, which celebrates the incredible achievements of people affected by stroke, and the UK Stroke Forum, the country’s biggest multidisciplinary conference for healthcare professionals in stroke. He is the current chair of the UK Stroke Assembly, one of the biggest gathering of stroke survivors in the world. He’s passionate about recognising and celebrating the achievements of everyone affected by stroke.
  • How long have you worked in the events industry and what keeps you interested in it?

    I’ve worked in the events industry for over 15 years. It really is the best job. Every event is different. Every day is different. Working in events has taken me all over the world and given me the chance to meet the most incredible people. 

  • Best (and worst?) moments working in the events industry?

    There are so many great moments, but having worked in the charity events sector for the past ten years I think the best thing really is supporting people who are in need of our support. Some of the best events I’ve been part of help people in many ways, connecting people, offering advice and information or raising money which is used to rebuild people’s lives. 

    The worst has probably been the past 12 months. We’ve seen some real success from running events virtually, but it was really sad to have to cancel a lot of our face to face events activity knowing how much people benefit from attending. 

  • What was the last event on which you worked?

    We are running an event this week, it’s a special event which we’ve moved online called Amazing Brains. It will showcase the importance of stroke research and the impact covid has had on our funding. I’m really excited about it as we have Olympic champion Michael Johnson speaking, what a legend! 

  • From your experience, what’s the best way to utilise tech at an event?

    I think on demand has given people much greater access to events. One of the best things about virtual is how much more inclusive it makes our events, regardless of disability, affordability or geography people can participate so much more. People’s lives are so busy, so having on demand or catch up options gives people much more flexibility to join in, and increases reach for the organiser. 

  • We all learn from our mistakes! What was the biggest lesson you learned from a mistake since being in the industry?

    Oh wow. At one of my first ever events I had a guest collapse on me during the keynote presentation. I did not know what to do! Thankfully, the event was for medics and I found myself in a room full of doctors who were quick to help. I went on first aid training soon after, and have recently qualified as a mental health first aider too. I think you always need to be prepared for the worst to happen. The guest was fine by the way! 

  • What are you most looking forward to at Event Tech Live?

    I’m really looking forward to hearing about some of the latest innovation in tech for events. As a charity we don’t have huge budgets for things like tech, so we have to be very smart about what we invest in. I’ll be keeping an eye out for anything that will help enhance our upcoming events. 

    What do events, such as ETL, mean to you?

    I think events like ETL are so important, especially after the year we’ve just had. Brining together event profs to share ideas and best practice is always important, but I think we’ve all learned so much over the past year from the pandemic that there has never been a more important time to share with each other. 

  • What can our delegates expect to take away from your session at ETL?

    My session is going to look at how we managed to deliver a successful virtual conference for healthcare professionals during the pandemic. Many of them were working on the front line, going above and beyond to support the fight against covid and improve outcomes for people affected by stroke. We had a real challenge trying to bring this hardworking group if people together. I’ll share some of the things that worked really well, how we utilised tech to give people the best possible experience and the impact the event had on the workforce. 

  • Which one piece of tech couldn’t you live without?

    It has to be my iWatch. I’ve been doing a lot of running in lockdown and its kept me on track. It tells me off for sitting at my desk too much as well! 

  • Most pointless tech you have purchased?

    I have a Bluetooth desk, which charges my phone and plays music. I could just plug my phone into a normal socket, but it looks cool. 

Join Tony for his session: Running successful events for healthcare professionals during a global pandemic
at ETL US & Canada on June 8th on the Omni Stage – Book your ticket here