Our presenters will enlighten us with their thoughts and notes from the 64th STC Annual Conference in Washington DC held in May 2017
This is what STC Summit is all about:
People from all over the world and from all different backgrounds attend the STC Summit! And it’s not just technical writers who attend: project managers, consultants, content architects, web managers, professors, developers, illustrators, and policy writers are just some of the many people you’ll meet at the Summit.
The STC Summit session topics cover many aspects of technical writing: editing, project management, usability, content management, intelligent design, and publication production.
Come and hear about the sessions our panelists attended, the people they met, and what they learned.
- Jane Wilson, STC Vice President
- Robert Landry
- Joe Humbert
- Lori Meyer
- Claire Lundeby
- Liz Fraley
Date: Thursday, 1 June 2017.
by Liz Miller
Missed the 2017 Summit?: At the June 2017 meeting, a panel of five Summit attendees shared their thoughts and notes from favorite sessions, workshops and presenters at the 64th STC Summit Conference in Washington DC, which attracted some 600 technical communicators
During the Summit honors reception, our chapter and two members received well-earned certificates of recognition:
- The EBSTC chapter earned a Bronze Community award for chapter activities in 2016 under President Liz Miller.
- Joe Humbert was honored as a new STC Associate Fellow, and Patrick Lufkin (in absentia) was honored as a new STC Fellow. Congratulations!
At Sunday’s Leadership program, the keynote speaker was Dr. Judith Glick-Smith:
- Judith fired up her listeners with a presentation based on her book, “Flow-based Leadership: What the Best Firefighters can Teach You about Leadership and Making Hard Decisions.” Productivity tends to suffer under stress, which is why Judith urges us to focus on remaining in the moment to deal with volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) situations. You know you are in the flow when tasks are captivating and time has no meaning. Leadership under VUCA requires well-honed, people-based management characteristics with no hidden agendas.
- Aligned with his longtime role as EBSTC webmaster, Joe shared his favorite tips from the presentation, “Five Cascading Style Sheet Techniques That Every Technical Writer Should Know,” presented by Mike Hamilton of MadCap Software. He learned about the “box model” approach to formatting content borders and spacing and pseudo classes that affect mouse over and URL display. CSS now includes a function that modifies content display (such as “click” and “tap”) based on the user’s device (laptop or phone).
- A first-time Summit attendee, Claire was impressed by the learning opportunities she experienced on the National Harbor waterfront. (This reporter was impressed by her methodical documentation of her notes and even the PDFs of the presentations she attended stored in this shared Google Drive folder!)
- “Engineering Content Champions” (Becky Todd, Atlassian) was of special interest, since Claire’s thesis not long ago was about the same concept: coaching engineers on authoring crowd-sourced content.
The newly elected STC Vice President (previously STC Treasurer) shared her top take-aways from seven of the sessions she attended.
- His title said it all: “Implementing a Content Strategy Is Like Running 100 Miles: Painful But Possible.” Gavin Austin is an ultra marathoner who suggests we can address content in manageable chunks, work on our weaknesses and dare to ask for help.
- In Pamela Noreault’s presentation, “Hello World! RIP Traditional Content Strategies and Methodologies,” she described why we should be moving from feature-based releases to user experience-based releases.
- In one of the personal and personality performance sessions, Seth Mattison, author of “The War at Work,” talked about how we can form meaningful connections and influence others for the better. One tip: when meeting new people ask, “What do you do when you’re not at work?”
- Productivity means doing the right things well. Jane’s notes from Kit Brown-Hoekstra’s training solution, “Productivity Hacks for Technical Communicators” suggested breaking down work to manageable chunks and a adopting a manageable schedule, along with self-care and knowing what works for you. The 50/10 rule is a healthy approach: for every 50 minutes of work, take a 10 minute break.
- More than a few tech comms pros would have been fascinated by “Introverted Entrepreneurship: Leverage Your Strengths to Build a Successful Business,” presented by Alisa Bonsignore. She described how wearing a heart rate monitor during a presentation delivered visual proof of her stress. It spiked while she was in front of the audience and then dropped as soon as she finished. As tip to entrepreneurs, she pointed out that the “empathy” that makes a good writer can be repackaged as a “highly engaged” entrepreneur.
- In a spotlight talk named “Follow the Yellow Brick Road: A Leadership Journey to the Emerald City,” Ben Woelk discussed leadership characteristics in the context of the personalities of four main characters of “The Wizard of Oz,” Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, and the Scare Crow.
- “How May I Help You? (Why Service Is a Smart Way Forward)” Todd DeLuca believes that technical communicators would do well to consider the situation of the cook behind the scenes as compared to the server delivering the goods. When you differentiate yourself by taking a service-oriented approach to your work (rather than focusing on the “cooking”), your career will benefit.
- #thisnotthat. As a Summit report for his GE Digital colleagues who could not attend, Robert prepared a clever presentation with lively illustrations and a concise comparison of THIS and NOT THAT. It covered not only pre-conference workshop notes and session take-aways but also perspectives on the DC venue itself. There were 10 such summaries, but a blurb here would not do them justice (sorry!). A couple of points did stand out: (1) there is more than one way to do an edit and (2) there’s no shame in writing something that can be understood the first time.
Due to responsibilities at her Single Sourcing Solutions booth, Liz had little time for attending sessions, but plenty of time to network with visitors in the Expo Hall.
Competition update, other STC notes
It is unfortunate that Touchstone competition winners no longer advance to an international competition at the Summit, Richard Mateosian said.
The popular idea that the Society might pay for one summit attendee per chapter is hindered by budgetary concerns, reported Jane Wilson.
Topics being discussed by the STC board include a funding scholarship, free Summit registration for student members who volunteer, running STC like it was a business and using a popular travel destination venue to keep summit attendance high — along with the elevated catering costs that brings.