As the hectic schedule of another summer starts to wind down, many of us have begun turning our attention from time spent with family and friends during all-too-short vacations and time off from work, to refocus on our technical communication careers and clients. And as I start to think about all my wonderful experiences and memories of the past few months, and the challenges to be addressed during the rest of the year, I can’t help but remember all of the outstanding learning opportunities that this year’s STC Summit provided to me. So I thought I’d pen a few lines and summarize for you most, but not all, of what I experienced in Atlanta (like Las Vegas, what happens in Atlanta…).
In my earlier blog, which I posted midway through the Summit, I spoke primarily about the ideas, comments, and especially the people I was exposed to at Leadership Day (the one-day session that is held before the conference and is intended to provide community leaders with much of the information and training that they will need). It was, as I indicated previously, a fabulous and very valuable experience. It allowed me to hear and discuss firsthand with other community leaders the excitement, frustration, anxiety, and personal satisfaction that we all feel and need to share. Topics ranged from reports from STC International officers and leaders, to discussions on effective community financial management, providing high-value programs and events, mentoring our community members, officers and friends, and increasing the value of STC membership. And my meetings with leaders and members from other geographical communities and special interest groups provided an outstanding opportunity to share ideas about what does (and doesn’t) work, references for available resources, and opportunities to “cry in our beer” together (figuratively speaking, of course). The networking and educational opportunities are high on my list of value-added activities at an event like the Summit, and I intend to use these fresh resources and experiences to find solutions to the challenges we face as a community.
Equally important, though, were the many sessions and vendor demonstrations and seminars that were held Monday through Wednesday after Leadership Day, and I found many topics that I wanted to learn more about. By my count, I participated in 11 different conference sessions ranging from using content management systems, interviewing subject matter experts, using graphs and visuals to convey messages, implementing functional design, and applying the 10 golden rules of global content. I also stopped by the booths of multiple vendors and service suppliers, who offered a wealth of information regarding their products, how best to apply them, and the competitive advantages that they offered. By the way, one of the vendors, Doc-to-Help, provided flash drives loaded with all of the proceedings and papers from the Summit. If you’re interested in reviewing any or all of the materials from Summit, please let me know and I’ll make it available to you.
Finally, I found that another important feature of the Summit was the opportunity to see our STC leaders in action. Their presence at the Leadership Day activities and the annual business meeting held during the Summit, and their remarks and observations in casual conversations and during the closing ceremonies, all helped make STC International’s presence and involvement in our profession a little more palpable. Even though I didn’t agree with everything I saw or heard, their stake and commitment to furthering the best interests of our noble profession are undeniable, and they deserve our continued support.
So will I go to the Summit again next year? I will if I’m able, although I don’t think going each and every year is a “must.” It really depends on what will be offered in future Summit conferences, and what resources or information I’m looking for at the time. But if you have never attended a Summit before, or even if it’s been a while since your last one, I’d start saving up your pennies for 2014. And you might want to take along your golf clubs or tennis racket, and stay a few extra days – next year is in Phoenix, and you know what they say about all work and no play!
Tom Glennan, STC-SM president
Note: The 2013 STC Summit took place May 5-8 in Atlanta GA. The 2014 STC Summit is scheduled for May 18-21 in Phoenix AZ. Visit summit.stc.org for more details.