Event Tech Awards 2021: Meet the Judges – Abi Cannons

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Abi is Global Innovation Success Manager for Reed Exhibitions where she works with digital teams around the world to help them find, test and implement the best event technology on the market. Previously at Slido and having managed and produced conferences for 9 years, Abi has experienced multiple aspects of what it takes to drive innovation and interaction in events. Abi loves nothing more than getting underwater as a scuba diver, and is a budding bass house DJ on dry land.


What experience can you draw upon to successfully judge the ETAs?

Having been an organiser, an event tech vendor, an exhibitor and now working in digital innovation for exhibitions, I’ve enjoyed many aspects of the event tech ecosystem!

How long have you worked in the events industry and what keeps you interested in it?

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About 14 years now, I think, and before that in hospitality. I’ve always thrived on the idea of bringing people together to learn, share and build their businesses. What’s not to love?!

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

I’ve been so incredibly privileged to have travelled the world with my job; the places, the conversations and, naturally, the eating are my favourite moments. Speaking of food, one of the worst moments was, as someone with a nut allergy, accidentally eating a walnut at a lunch buffet and ending up in the first aid room getting an injection. Not fun!

Favourite piece of tech for work and personal life?

Such a difficult question! I’m a big fan of my Google Home. I have a device in each of the main rooms of my house, along with smart bulbs in my lamps. Voice commands are so convenient! And for work, don’t judge me, but I’m coming round to Microsoft Teams. As a huge Slack fan, I found it really counter-intuitive to begin with, but it’s definitely improved and does the job, especially with working remotely. I love finding all the little Microsoft hacks (try windows + . It will change your life.)

What’s your go-to piece of tech when working on an event and why?

I’m agnostic – my job is to test new tech, so I wouldn’t have a go-to 😊

What was the last event on which you worked?

The last one I attended in person and worked on was the mega-cool PAX East 2020, a B2C gaming convention. It was fun, loud, and so enormous. It blew my mind! My experience is mainly B2B, so when I work with B2C it’s a really different world for me.

From your experience, how has tech been best utilised at an event? / What’s the best way to utilise tech at an event?

The best way to utilise tech at an event is to approach it wholeheartedly. There’s is a nervousness that accompanies using something new that sometimes holds planners back, which is of course understandable, but can sometimes be the thing that makes it fall over. Listen to your vendors on best practice and follow it. They’re more experienced than you are; in the second iteration you can tweak those practices if required.

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

Set multiple alarm clocks and bring a plug adaptor! More recently, not ‘documenting’ enough during the live event. Collect data points, video testimonials, screen shots, pictures, audio… You only get one chance to gather the information for future learnings, case studies, presentations and most importantly comparisons. The more you have to go on, the more you can reflect, learn and adapt. 

What are you most looking forward to at the ETAs?

Oh I just love it all! I love celebrating all the amazing vendors we work with; they work so hard and achieve so much. I absolutely love the judging; reading the great stories and hearing about fledgling companies and ideas. Plus getting to dress up and hang out with my chums and colleagues at the event is pure joy! 

Why is it important to recognise the achievements of tech companies?

It’s so important to shine a light on and celebrate the work of our tech providers. It demonstrates how we’re progressing as an industry and is so helpful to planners discovering event tech themselves. I’ve seen how the ETAs have elevated so many fantastic but small companies and I’m proud to be a part of that.

If you could only use one piece of tech when working on an event, what would that be?

Slido, obviously. 😉


The Event Technology Awards celebrate excellence in event technology. Entries are open now, find out more info here

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