Braindate at AIEC 2021

Back by popular demand!

Following the success of our first virtual braindate event hosted in October 2020, we are excited about integrating the whole Braindate experience into AIEC 2021.

What is Braindate?

Braindate is a topic-driven peer-learning and knowledge-sharing experience. It is an opportunity to make meaningful connections and have interesting conversations with people who share the same interests as you.

The Braindate 'marketplace' is a platform that will help you find and start discussions with others. Participate in one-on-one or small group conversations to personalise your conference experience.

Virtual braindates will be hosted on the E180 virtual platform and can be hosted or attended by all registered delegates. It can be accessed straight from the Virtual Attendee Hub.

One-on-one vs. group braindates

Braindate is a structured networking experience, where people with shared interests connect virtually to make meaningful connections and discuss topics of interest.

A braindate can be either a one-on-one 30 minute conversation or a 45 minute group discussion for five people (one host and four other people) in total.

1:1 braindate

A 30 minute deep dive into a topic with one other person on a shared topic of interest.

If you are the host, you post a topic and then you arrange a time to meet with each person who contacts you for a topic at a mutually convenient time. You can hold as many 1:1 conversations as you like on the same topic.

Group braindate

Enjoy a 45 minute discussion with up to five people to gain perspectives on a shared topic of interest.

If you are the host, you get to pick a date and time for your Braindate, and others join by picking one of the four available spots. First come, first served!

How does it work?

How do attendees connect?

Once you log on to the Braindate platform, you will be able to see all attendees signed up to Braindate and book them for 1:1 or group conversations, on subjects you’d like to discuss. 

At the time of your Braindate, log on to the Braindate platform, find your Braindate and click 'Join Braindate'.

Conversation styles

Once you've decided what topic you want to post on the braindate marketplace, and whether you want to host a 1:1 or group braindate, you'll need to decide the format of your braindate. This will be visible to other participants browsing the marketplace.


Help me solve

Meet to discuss a challenge or quest that someone is facing. This type of braindate works well for people looking for fresh perspectives or feedback.



A collaborative session where people meet to generate ideas about a real project, opportunity or problem to solve. Pick this type of braindate if you're looking to get your most creative and productive juices flowing.



Storytelling has always been a powerful vehicle for sharing lessons learned from a lived experience while also learning from people's interpretations. Choose this type of braindate if you like learning and connective with people on a more personal level.


Ask me anything

A braindating classic. Pick this type of braindate to share your insights about a topic you're passionate about. Don't overthink this one: there's no need to be an expert, and if you consider yourself one, see what new insights you can draw from the conversation!


Open discussion

Spark a discussion around a share interest, without a specific outcome in mind. This type of braindate lets a topic unfold on its own, depending on what each person is bringing to the conversation.


Friendly debate

A conversation format designed to help you explore ideas you might not agree with. This braindate is great for opening your mind or challenging your own perspective about a topic you care about.


Topics are created by participants and posted on the 'topic marketplace'. As inspiration, here are some of last year's topics:

  • The influence of university rankings on international education: a challenge or a benefit?
  • Digital marketing #epicfails and how to avoid them
  • Key learnings from the rapid development and implementation of state-wide student welfare programs
  • International student mobility when we can’t travel?
  • Making an impact? New Colombo Plan scholarships and grants and our Indo-Pacific relationships

Check out AIEC's key interest areas and this year's conference program to get an idea of the types of topics that AIEC delegates are interested in.

Why go braindating?

Top reasons to join the AIEC Braindate include:

1. Braindating is more than just networking...
2. Braindates are topic-driven, which means ‘you’ set the agenda
3. Braindates are peer-learning experiences and knowledge-sharing experiences
4. Braindates allow you to present and troubleshoot a particular challenge you are facing
5. Braindates help you connect and talk with people who share the same interests as you
6. Braindates provide the perfect opportunity to gather diverse perspectives from peers
7. Braindates offer the chance to share your knowledge with others and unique professional and personal experiences

8. Braindates can be the start of long-lasting relationships 

Braindate etiquette

Here were some basic 'dos and dont's' of 'braindating':


Be polite

Adopt a beginner’s mindset, make sure everyone introduces themselves and contributes to the discussion.


Be respectful

Braindates are about building—and nourishing—communities through knowledge exchange in an open and inclusive space. Behaviour that makes other participants uncomfortable will not be tolerated.


Be upfront

Be clear about your topic and honest about your own involvement related to the topic. Pitching your topic with sincerity is the easiest way to start a meaningful conversation, be it selling a product, offering a job opportunity or promoting your services. 


Be realistic

Don’t book a braindate unless you genuinely interested in the topic.


Show up

Don't leave your braindate hanging! Send a message if something comes up.


Don't be late

Make sure you are ready to meet your virtual date(s) on time. You can opt in to receive email and/or SMS reminders in you profile settings.


Give the meeting your full attention

Braindates require that you contribute to the conversation. Unlike webinars, you can’t turn off your video or mute yourself, so ensure you book your braindate at time that you are free and are able to commit 100% of your attention.


Prepare in advance

Dates are only 30 to 45 minutes long, so you don’t want to waste the first 5 or 10 minutes fixing a tech issue. Make sure you test your speakers and video in advance, so you’re ready to joining and start the conversation on time.


Dress appropriately

Dressing appropriately will help you stay focused and in ‘work’ mode. Casual or business casual is appropriate, your favourite PJs is not.

Hosting tips

If you’re hosting a Braindate, here are a few tips on how to successfully host a Braindate conversation.

When you post a topic:

  • Make sure you enter relevant keywords so we can find your topic easily
  • Explain what ‘inspired’ this topic, so we can understand the context of the conversation
  • Choose the right ‘conversation style’ so we know what to expect in terms of knowledge sharing and conversation format

In the lead up to the braindate:

  • When a new person joins your group, post a welcome message in the chat. E.g. Hi [name]! Looking forward to connecting with you next week!
  • Message your fellow attendees via chat with any relevant information, articles, useful links and or questions to think about before the planned Braindate.
  • To minimise the no. of no-shows, send a reminder message the day before. E.g. Looking forward to our Braindate tomorrow!

Last minute preparation:

  • Make sure to test your audio and visual settings
  • Log in at least 10 minutes before the Braindate
  • You can Screen Share during your Braindate! Make sure to have any relevan information ready and geared to share before your Braindate begins.

During the braindate:

  • Use the first five minutes for intention-sharing and ensuring everyone gets to introduce themselves to the group
  • Use the last five minutes to wrap-up and recap on take-aways
  • Keep the conversation flowing and allow everyone to have their say

After the Braindate:

  • You can continue chatting with the group via chat messaging – this is another final way to thank the group for their contribution

What people said about Braindate 2020

Braindating is more than a networking experience. It’s your opportunity to find your next big idea or your next project collaborator. It’s a chance to share your knowledge or learn from key influencers in international education.

Here’s what people said about our first Braindate in 2020:

AIEC Braindate - Alek Voninsky Testimonial AIEC Braindate - Isabelle Testimonial
AIEC Braindate - Jomini Seal Testimonial AIEC Braindate - Jan Drew Testimonial
AIEC Braindate - Kelly Smith Testimonial AIEC Braindate - Manul Shah Testimonial
AIEC Braindate - Nanettee Ripmeester Testimonial AIEC Braindate - Suzanne Koh Testimonial
AIEC Braindate - Tom Bambric Testimonial  

Promote your braindate

Head to our promo toolkit page to find assets to share on social media.