Organizing Meetings Using Eventbrite

by Timothy Esposito on 30 June 2016

Note: This article originally appeared on the Community Affairs Committee website.

One of the more challenging aspects of running a community can be running events. To successfully pull off an event, you need a venue, food and drink, a presenter, and most importantly, attendees. Keeping track of who is attending and who has paid can be done manually, or through Meetup.com, but there may be better way: Eventbrite. In April of 2016, Viqui Dill and Teresa Nguyen hosted a webinar on Eventbite for STC and the CAC. This article is designed to compliment, but not replace, the content of that webinar.

Why Choose Eventbrite

In the earlier article, the benefits of using Meetup.com were explained. Meetup can expand your audience, organize events, and collect payments. However, Meetup also charges a hefty fee every six months, which scales to the size of your group. This can be costly, especially for groups with tight budgets.

Eventbrite works on a different business model. They skim off a percentage of your ticket sales instead of having a monthly fee. So if you want to organize a meeting with no fees, Eventbrite will organize the registration for free! You can tie in your PayPal account with Eventbrite and process all your payments electronically.

Discounts for Not-for-profits

As noted in an earlier article, both Eventbrite and PayPal provide discounts to not-for-profit organizations. If you contact them and send them proof that your chapter is a not-for-profit, they will reduce their fees.

Customizing Your Event

When you create an event in Eventbrite, you establish the basic information about the event: location, time, date, subject, etc.

Tickets

Additionally, you must create ticket types. Each type of ticket can have a different name and price, including a free ticket. Why create different ticket tiers? Perhaps you want to offer a discount for students, first time attendees, or society members. If you break out tickets between members and non-members, even if they have the same cost, you can better track your finances for the STC budget form, which always asks for member vs. non-member numbers. Also, when creating tickets, you can establish who pays for Eventbrites fees. In the example below, the fees are absorbed by the chapter. Alternatively, you can have the attendees pay the fees.

Other ticketing options include limiting the number of each ticket type sold, and limiting the days each ticket type is sold. Each of those options must be set individually for every tier of tickets that you create.

Creating different ticket levels for members and non-members.
Creating different ticket levels for members and non-members.

Surveys

As part of the registration process, you can ask attendees questions. Sure, there are the basic name, address, employer form fields, but you can create special questions, such as dietary limitations. On the Manage tab, select Order Options > Order Form. There you can specify the standard questions asked, or add a custom question by clicking the Add Another Question button.

When you click the Add Another Question button, you are prompted to enter your question, and given several ways attendees can respond, ranging from free text to drop downs to radio button.

Question Options for surveys
You better pick the right answer. Think carefully.

You can even make sub questions that appear based on the initial responses.

Sub-Questions
So many options to narrow down.

After your event registration is live, you can check the results of your questions on the Manage tab, under Analyze > Event Reports. Choose to export to Excel or a CSV, and you can take your results to go. Or expand the table and look at all the responses right in Eventbrite.

Discount Codes

Discount codes are coupons you give to your attendees, perhaps to welcome them to your event as a new member, or to thank them for their volunteer work. These codes are tied directly to the event on which you create them, even if they are valid for a longer time frame. This means that if you give someone a code that is good for 6 months, you must create a new version of it in every event that you create for the next 6 months. Fortunately, it is not difficult to create a discount code.

Fill in this form to create a discount code.
Fill in this form to create a discount code.

Once you create the code, be sure to tell the intended audience to use it when registering.

Communicating with Your Attendees

Sometimes things don’t always go as planned and you need to reach out to the attendees who registered for your event. Eventbrite has thought of such situations and includes an email tool that will contact any group of attendees you want, such as people who haven’t paid yet, or people who registered after a certain date, or just specific members. Such emails can be scheduled to send immediately, or at a future time. One such use of this feature is to send a email to all attendees after the event is over. In that email, include a link to a survey so you can get feedback on the event. To access this feature, on the Manage tab, use Manage Attendees > Emails to Attendees.

While this is a great method to contact the people who have already registered, I recommend using MailChimp as a free way to push the event registration to your mailing list.

Ready to Go

Once your event is about to take place, Eventbrite has a guest list you can print that displays who has pre-paid and who has not. It also will print name tags on a PDF which can then be printed onto standard sticky name tags. Both of these options are available on the Manage tab under Manage Attendees.

Conclusion

Eventbrite may not be a perfect tool, but it can make your event registration and payment processing easier. It can even handle refunds if an attendee ends up not being an attendee. You are billed monthly on a percentage of your ticket sales, and if you are using PayPal, you can easily pay them from your ticket income. There are many more features in the application which I don’t have time to explain here, but the few that I did highlight hopefully gives you incentive to create an account and explore on your own.

{ 0 comments }

STC Communities and Staff Win APEX Awards

by STC Staff on 27 June 2016

STC is proud to announce that five STC communities and the STC staff recently were named winners in APEX 2016, the 28th Annual Awards for Publication Excellence. APEX Awards are based on excellence in graphic design, editorial content, and the ability to achieve overall communication excellence. APEX Awards of Excellence recognize exceptional entries in each of the individual categories.

Congratulations to the following STC winners:

  • Northeast Ohio Chapter: APEX Award of Excellence in the category of Newsletters – Electronic and Email
  • Chicago Chapter(Linda Kelley): APEX Award of Excellence in the category of Newsletters – Electronic and Email
  • Carolina Chapter (Lindsey Saunders): APEX Award of Excellence in the category of Newsletters – Electronic and Email
  • Technical Editing SIG(Rick Sapir): APEX Award of Excellence in the category of One to Two Person-Produced Websites
  • Intercom(Liz Pohland): APEX Award of Excellence in the category of Magazine, Journal, & Tabloids Writing.
  • 2014-2015 STC Salary Database: APEX Award of Excellence in the category of One-of-a-Kind Publications.

Congratulations again to the winners!

For more information on the APEX Awards and a full listing of winners, visithttp://www.apexawards.com/.

{ 0 comments }

Kirk St.AmantThis is a the transcript of an interview with Dr. Kirk St.Amant on 28 March 2016, on the occasion of his visit to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville as the Spring 2016 Rhetoric Series Speaker for the Division of Rhetoric, Writing, & Linguistics in the UT Department of English.

Interviewers: STC members Savannah DeFreese and Elizabeth Sonewald, students in technical communication program in the Department of English at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and student liaisons to the East Tennessee Chapter of the Society for Technical Communication.

How long have you been in the field? How did you get started?

I’ve probably been in the field for give or take twenty years now, and I got into it sort of accidentally. I was working in customer service at a printing company, and one of my jobs was to translate “printerese” engineering into English for clients, because I worked in customer service, and that was a very difficult task, and it turned out one of the universities I was at had some courses in technical communication, and we had a professional development program, and my boss said to me, “Why don’t you try some of these? They might be helpful.” And it just happened to work out really well. I stopped going to work and started going to class. So that’s what happened, it was just an accidental sort of thing.

What is your favorite part of your work?

The new stuff, it never sort of gets old. And I’m sure everyone experiences that in different fields of study, but quite often it comes through a relatively narrow bandwidth. In tech comm, you get the internal, academic way of discovering things, but the external, the society evolves with different things, you’re trying to keep pace with it as well. So it’s never a dull moment, and most importantly, it can never get old. In terms of everything is constantly changing, so I can’t say for example, “Well, I’m the world’s foremost expert in Netscape.” That’s gone. But you can always follow a pattern of online communication. So that’s what I think is the most engaging part of it, and it forces you to be nice to young people, so they can teach you how to use their phone.

What are the most pressing challenges for global communication and understanding?

I think they’re twofold, and it has to do with sort of internal and external. The internal part is, in the United States in particular, we’ve become sort of more isolationist, both politically and I think professionally or economically. And that’s problematic because we work in a global marketplace now, and so every business you’re a part of is inherently a global business, even education, you know we deal with global student populations all the time. As we move to online, it’s inherently global there’s no way around it, so the question becomes how to make sure that you address global audiences without sacrificing your domestic sphere. So that’s one part of the challenge. The other part is the disconnects in terms of how different things are done around the world: there’s language, what language do you use to communicate in. Technologies, what kind of software platforms are you dealing in, is it proprietary Microsoft products or is it open source products? What kind of bandwidths are you dealing with in online communication down to, do I do most of my online shopping or my online course work on a phone, or do I do it on a laptop? If it’s a phone, is it a flip phone that has like twenty characters per screen on it. So those sort of disconnects are incredibly big challenges and you can never have a uniform standard, but you can have a uniform baseline. Kind of akin to accessibility, if you assume that this is the threshold that we need to establish for as many people as possible to have access to our communications, then if we use that as the foundation, how do we build? So it’s the same basic principle, and I think we can learn a lot from accessibility in terms of what’s the most open platform to begin with and build onto it instead of reverse engineering it. Let’s build it first for what we think our audience is; let’s start with a foundation and build up from it.

Has the persona method been used in fields other than communication design?

It’s very big in human computer interface design, human computer interaction, and usability studies and user experience design tend to be the areas you see it used in a  great deal. For the most part, if you survey the research, there’s not been a whole lot of research done on persona creation per se. A lot of it shows up in industry based trade publications, which is great, but in terms of the idea of we’ve got something we’ve tried and it works in this context, the notion of empirically testing it to see how it works, I don’t know if anybody’s really done that. That’s not to say it can’t be done, but there’re a lot of complexities inherent to it. So it’s a great concept that people have used very successfully. The question is, have we taken the time to evaluate to see how effective it is and can it be improved.

How do you balance the local and global contexts when developing a global communication design? Do you think those separate contexts will merge as we continue to develop both technologically and globally?

There’s something called “transcreation” and it’s the parallel creation of products of websites, right now, the tendency is for me to build my American website, and say Oh I have a client base in Brazil. Let’s take the American website and retool it for Brazil. And they try to create it with enough parameters that it’s flexible and more {}, but what transcreation says is don’t build one and then base off of it, build multiples and so at the same time we’re building the site for the US we build one for Brazil, we build one for Russia, for Tajikistan, but they run in parallel to each other and they’re all separate items, designed specifically for that culture and individuals within that culture vs one person determines what goes in it and other people have to work with what someone else is creating.

Who oversees that?

It depends, historically, it’s cheaper to build one and then retool, but that’s a critical mass issue. You do that as long as the external market isn’t large enough to have an impact on your sales. But what happens when China becomes one of the major global players and you’re retooling your work for China, no you need to start creating for that audience primarily. And so you’re seeing as China, Brazil, India, Russia, and South Africa become major global economic powers, the desire to instead of treat as an afterthought, to treat as a parallel partner in design. So a lot of it is done on an agreement basis, we think this is a good business model, but it’s not necessarily widespread, and there aren’t necessarily regulations that govern it.

The goal of persona is to create a stand-in individual; how essential is it to keep in mind the human element vs the technological aspects when you’re creating?

Think about it this way, when we often talk about creating materials for an audience, we think about demographic data. What is their background, what is their socioeconomic level, what is their profession, what is there education level. That tells us who someone is, that doesn’t tell us what someone will do with something once they’ve got it, and the idea behind personas is you take that demographic audience information, this is who somebody is now what is their life like? And so it’s kind of grafting ethnographic research onto demographics. So if we look at how a person lives the course of their daily life, at what point in time will they use this technology, at what point in time would they access this information, and based upon that you design not just for the person but the context in which they’re using something, the context of use. And the benefit a persona brings is that it contextualizes information so that it can be more usable. It’s important to keep that in mind, these are human beings. And so take for example medical instructions. The chances are when most people are going to turn to emergency medical instructions are going be under a time of duress, at that point in time are they going to want to read a very standard generic laundry list of what to do, or do they want information packaged in a specific way to find it very quickly. That’s the benefit personas bring is you get to keep that human being in mind, that human being will have different emotional states, they’ll be suffering different stresses and duresses during the time they’re using something. So that’s the important part to remember, they are human, they’re going to be under pressure from human frailties.

Aside from developing personas, what are some ways to make online communication technologies more useful and appealing to international audiences?

You’ve got to account for three things. The first is you’ve got to account for infrastructure. Just because you build it, does not necessarily mean they can access it. And by infrastructure we’re talking everything from bandwidth to access to different kinds of technologies. What kind of mobile phones look like what can they afford, what is their payment plan? Most of the world does payments by transferring cell phone credits around, and those are considered the equivalent of cash vs having credit accounts that we would use to transact business. So completely different infrastructures affect how technology is used. The second part, the conditions of use. We tend to, because we’ve got relatively inexpensive mobile access,  use the internet all the time. We’ve got no problem with high bandwidth files that we send all over the place. What happens if the place I’m in I only can check my internet every so often, my bandwidth is limited, and I’m paying an ungodly amount to access it? That’s greatly going to affect what I can do. So you’ve got infrastructure, context, then you’ve got culture. Culturally, in the community I’m a part of, what do I look for that indicates something is worth believing, listening to or paying attention to, does it depend on who has said it, does it depend on how it’s written, does it depend on the language it’s in? Does it need to be image intensive, or is it text intensive? But it’s adjusting for those cultural factors that make people stop and say, Oh this is worth paying attention to, that need to be addressed also. So it’s those three, it’s getting it into their hands, making sure they can use it, and culture being should they believe it and act on it. So it’s sort of a threefold process.

Do you think we will be able to reduce friction points as we progress globally?

I think they’ll change. They might increase, they might decrease, but I think they’ll change. Most of the friction points that I’ve talked about are big points: What’s the legal structure of the country look like? As countries evolve or cultures evolve, they become more fine tuned. What does this particular group in this nation think is legally important, as opposed to this other group. What does the regulatory structure say about how a product is disseminated in that culture vs the people who need to access to say a pharmaceutical product. Those are different friction points, but they depend upon how things proliferate over time. Will they increase or decrease, I don’t know, but they’ll certainly become more nuanced, and every time something changes it’s a new level of nuance that get’s added.

When you think of friction points, think of culture as existing in concentric circles that affect friction points. Let’s start with the foundation: What is culture? Culture is basically a worldview. It’s how you and I look at the world and how we organize stuff in it. What is worth paying attention to, what is worth talking about, that’s our culture. And that in and of itself creates friction points because we have different opinions, but our culture tells us this is how you play nice. And so we have rules for engagement. That’s the primary sphere. The secondary sphere is intercultural. So two different cultural groups in the same proximity; in this case let’s talk about two different cultures in the same country. Canada: French and English, the US: a large Hispanic population. Two different cultures, two different worldviews. Those different worldviews are going to create different friction points in terms of what we talk about and how we talk about it. What matters to me is not necessarily what matters to you and we’ve got different rules of engagement. So the friction point there are cultural or linguistic. Let’s move to the next sphere: international. Now we’ve moved outside of a country, now we’re talking about geopolitical spheres. So not only do I have to account for culture and language, I’ve got to account for politics, economics, and geography. So those legalistic aspects, those economic aspects become a friction point. Let’s push it all the way out, the largest sphere is global: We’re going to do everything all at once, all across the world, that’s infrastructure. So those infrastructures become friction points on a greater level. So it simply depends on what level of this concentric framework you wish to look at that takes the friction points, but once you know it, you can begin to identify it. And there’s no perfect method, but it’s at least being aware that it’s not a uniform, it depends upon what you’re dealing with.

The problem historically with intercultural communications has been something called the monolith, and that is all cultures have been treated like these monolithic entities. And so personas and friction points and spheres, they’re always looking at culture as more complex than that. We all know this, that cultures are comprised of cultures within them. How to begin to detangle that to get around this problem of monolithics, and so that’s where personas come in, looking at they’re people within a culture, they’re not a culture as a faceless entity. Friction points, what kinds of different experiences do different individuals in a culture encounter vs the whole thing being treated as one. So that’s kind of the big challenge, how do we detangle the monolith to make it work.

Has your French-Canadian background given you insight into these challenges?

I grew up on the border, and where that becomes important is growing up we could do conversions from Fahrenheit into Celsius in our heads, if you’re dealing with two currencies every day and you’re moving back and forth between two languages. And so you realize there are these differences, and they are friction points. Currency access, measurement systems, everything else. And so I guess it did make me aware of those factors.

Anything else?

I wish that folks your age would get much more involved in international things, simply because social media is everything now internationally. It affects a very small percentage of the population globally, but the impact it can have is pretty tremendous when you think about it. Everything from the Iranian Revolution to any sort of social uprising. Folks in my generation don’t understand it, I mean we studied, we understand it but we didn’t grow up with it, akin to the way it’s like a second nature for you. And I think of my parents’ generation grew up with cars, they were always there, they governed how they thought about their lives. Your generation is social media, that was not part of my life, and therefore in trying to grapple with that concept, I’m ill-prepared. I would say anybody over 30, 35, 40…. Most folks of a certain generation are ill-prepared to grapple with what it is, how it’s used and what it means. I think the more folks from your generation who get involved with that, who grew up with it, can think about it. A classic example, apparently unfriending somebody on Facebook is a fate worse than death. Why? As someone who didn’t grow up with that, I have no idea why this is a big deal, so if I’m doing business internationally and I suddenly decide I don’t like the way this person is doing business and I decide to unfriend them, what did I just do? I don’t understand those dynamics. Or twitter feeds, I get 140 characters to say something. What does that mean? How do you train yourself to think in 140 characters that’s meaningful, I can’t do that. And I’m sure you can tell the age of somebody by how they post things. Oh this is my grandma, this is my mom and dad, just the language and nature of things. How to live with one of these (a phone). In all seriousness, I keep accidentally calling people, I’m not familiar with how this technology works, you all grew up with it, you understand it. And that’s a phenomenon that happens with every generation, but between my generation and yours, the speed with which it has happened and the global proliferation is incredible, And my generation can’t keep pace with it. Globally it’s impossible to understand these dynamics, but it requires these kinds of partnerships, where generations have to work together to do these things.

{ 0 comments }

Summit 2016 Highlights for a First-Time Attendee

As a first-time conference attendee, Summit 2016 was a great way for me to connect with people I only know through email and LinkedIn as well as make new connections. I also learned about important trends in technical communication, and how to be a better leader for my home community.

Highlights

Here are some highlights from my conference experience:

  • During the preconference Leadership Program, I was able to learn what other chapters are doing to help their home communities. We also heard from Society leaders about managing chapter finances, using tools to organize and share information, reaching out to our members through social media and public relations services, and improving our online security.
  • After the program, Lori Meyer, president of the Washington, DC – Baltimore (WDCB) Chapter, handed me a magnet promoting Summit 2017, to be held in National Harbor, Maryland, from May 7 to 10, 2017.
  • By the end of the conference, the bookstore had sold out of Richard Johnson-Sheehan’s Technical Communication Today, Fifth Edition, the textbook used for the Certified Professional Technical Communicator (CPTC)-Foundation exam. The CPTC is a worthwhile goal because it establishes a standard for knowledge in the field of technical communication.
  • I am glad the conference organizers taped many of the educational sessions so I could concentrate on one or two tracks. Also, much of the information I heard during the Independent Consulting track is not available anywhere else.
  • At the Monday speed-networking session, I met a recent graduate who showed me how you work a conference to find employment. He never passed up an opportunity to say he was looking for work, and he left the conference with job leads he would have never found by searching the job boards.
  • I was impressed by David Beebe’s closing keynote speech, “Publish or Perish: How to Win the Hearts, Minds, and Wallets of Next Generation Consumers with Content Marketing.” He reinforced something many of us have always felt: All content creators, including technical communicators, tell a brand’s story.

After the Conference

  • After the conference, I joined Ben Woelk’s Slack channel to discuss introverted leadership and participate in a CPTC study group. What I learn in the study group I hope to apply in a study group in my home community.
  • At home I am working with my team to implement many of the ideas discussed during the Leadership Program and throughout the conference.

I had a great time at Summit 2016. And I have Lori’s pretty blue magnet on my refrigerator to remind me that Summit 2017 is just around the corner!

alice brzovicAlice Brzovic
STC Member
President, STC San Diego
* Twitter @write4smallbiz
* LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/alicebrzovic

This blog post is part of a series of curated and edited posts authored by attendees at Summit 2016. The posts will discuss key takeaways and efforts by individuals and STC Communities to build on their Summit experience. If you’d like to contribute a post, let us know.

 

{ 0 comments }

STC Summit 2016: Reactions from a First-time Attendee

It was a pleasure and privilege for me to attend the STC Summit in Anaheim, California this year. As a first-time Summit attendee, I had no idea what to expect and wasn’t even sure if the conference would be worth the time and expense involved. An introvert by nature, I was also unsure whether I could feel at ease in such a large group setting.

I am pleased to say, however, that I came away with more inspiration and information than I can summarize in this short article. I left the Summit overflowing with ideas and could fill pages just trying to recap some of the things I learned and the topics I discussed with the many people I met. Instead, I want to take a few moments to encourage those of you who have not attended the STC Summit or other STC conference that participating in such events is well worth it!

Education

Each day at the Summit offered numerous educational sessions on a wide variety of techcomm-related subjects. The sessions focused on spreading knowledge and promoting excellence in technical communication. The subjects spanned a wide range of themes, including leadership & career, strategies & trends, technology & development, and writing & communication, among others.

Vendors and corporate sponsors filled an expo hall at the Summit, which provided a relaxed forum to walk up and learn about products and services I already used, wanted to know more about, or didn’t even know existed. Throughout the Summit, there were product demonstrations and presentations, and experts from each company were onsite to answer questions and connect with the attendees.

Networking

Arguably the most important aspect of attending a professional conference is the wealth of networking opportunities. I made connections with people from the moment I walked through the door, and many of those relationships developed over the course of the Summit. I met people from all parts of the country (and from around the world), working in a multitude of roles, in industries ranging from large corporations and governmental organizations to academia to tech startups.

It was delightful to follow the chatter on Twitter (#STC16) throughout the conference, where people reacted to the sessions they attended, shared photos, or contributed to general discussions. But even more valuable for me was meeting the people behind the tweets. If you’re already active on social media, the conference provides an opportunity to meet some of your contacts in person, and of course, expand your network. Ben Woelk’s blog post, “Why Professional Conferences Matter,” mentions the quality and value of the in-depth, in-person conversations we are able to have at conferences that would not be possible via the quick snippets we exchange via most social media outlets.

How do I find the right conference to attend?

There are conferences related to technical communication happening all over the country and the world, all year long. Research online, reach out to your professional network, or talk to your employer to select conferences that will have the most value for you. Here is a short (and by no means all-inclusive) list of a few upcoming STC conferences:

What about costs?

The admission fees (and travel) vary from conference to conference and can seem daunting at times, but here are a few tips to help keep the expenses down:

  • Register early: Many conferences offer discounted, “early-bird” rates for signing up well in advance.
  • Speak or volunteer at the conference: There may be discounted (or free) admission for volunteers, organizers, and speakers, depending on the conference.
  • Convince your boss: STC provides some ideas you can use to help convince your boss if you think your company could send you to a conference to promote your professional development. Even if your company won’t pay for the full ride, they may be willing to sponsor a portion of your trip. Mike Doyle’s post, “How to Justify Conference Attendance,” also has some helpful tips.
  • Search for other ways to get there: There may be scholarships or contests sponsored by STC chapters, drawings for free admission, etc. If you don’t enter, you can’t win!

Take the next step!

Conferences like the Summit can help expand your knowledge in the field, cultivate your professional network, and generate ideas that can be influential in your professional development. If you can, use conferences as a springboard to step out of your comfort zone. Discuss your ideas and solicit feedback from the company of like-minded attendees. For you, the next step may be introducing yourself to more people, promoting your company or services, presenting at a conference, or taking part as a volunteer or conference organizer.

Attending the Summit was a step I am so glad I took, because being there inspired me to do more. Here are just a few of the things I have done after being charged by the energy of the Summit:

  • I decided to pursue STC’s CPTC certification, and I am now studying for the exam.
  • I joined Ben Woelk’s discussion group on Slack, which has connected many Summit attendees in a virtual forum. I now participate on several channels inspired by the Summit sessions, including an introverted leadership discussion group and a CPTC exam study group.
  • I started a list of ideas to share with my STC community that I hope will inspire productive conversations about new programs, member outreach, and our social media presence.
  • I continued discussions with some of my new connections from the Summit and am currently exploring ways my STC community can collaborate with other STC communities.

If you have not yet had the chance to attend the Summit or other STC conference, I could not recommend it more. Like me, you may be amazed by how much you gain from your experience!

 

Alison PhillipsAlison Phillips
STC Member
Vice President, STC Southeastern Michigan
* Twitter @a3_alison
* LinkedIn  https://www.linkedin.com/in/alison-phillips-92683b7

This blog post is part of a series of curated and edited posts authored by attendees at Summit 2016. The posts will discuss key takeaways and efforts by individuals and STC Communities to build on their Summit experience. If you’d like to contribute a post, let us know.

“STC Summit 2016: Reactions from a first-time attendee” first appeared at http://stc-sm.org/2016/stc-summit-2016-reactions-from-a-first-time-attendee/

{ 0 comments }

Don’t miss this new and exciting online course to learn how to Own Your Content: Using the Power of FrameMaker to Get Back to Writing for all technical communicators with Matt Sullivan. This is a six-week course starting Thursday, 30 June-11 August at 11:30 AM-12:30 PM EDT (GMT-4). The 30 June date is an introductory session, and the first session begins on 7 July. Attendees can expect about three hours of work, each balanced roughly between course materials, projects, and live sessions. The live sessions are scheduled on Thursdays and Matt will also hold online “office hours” on Tuesdays, giving attendees a chance to drop into an online meeting to discuss the current week’s assignment.

This six-week course will teach you rock-solid techniques for creating and managing your content that are guaranteed to make you a more productive, more focused content creator. Just look at the outline below to see how this results-oriented course is going to help you get your documents under control.

  • FrameMaker will make your job easier by understanding the workflow and using templates in a template-based workflow.
  • Attendees will learn to use paragraph, character, understanding object and different publishing styles in FrameMaker.
  • Attendees will understand and modify proper use of table content, advanced concepts, cross-references, and template design.
  • Attendees will use graphics and rich media, anchored frames, and learning how to place and control rich media.

 

{ 0 comments }

Beyond Education: The Real Value of Tech Comm Conferences

con·fer·ence \ˈkän-f(ə-)rən(t)s noun: A formal meeting in which many people gather in order to talk about ideas or problems related to a particular topic…usually for several days.

I’ve recently returned from the STC Summit, the premiere international Tech Comm conference held in North America. The STC Summit is so much more than just an educational conference for Tech Comm professionals..

Oh, sure, there were plenty of educational opportunities. The Summit offered two keynote speakers, three pre-conference certification workshops, and over 80 education sessions covering seven different themed tracks.

The Real Value

But, in my opinion, the real value lies before, after, and in between all of that education.

The real value is found in the professional connections that are made during the conference. I dare not use the word “networking” because the word is so overused and covers so many different things. Connections, whether personal or professional, offer another layer of support in your everyday lives. Connections give you access to expertise in new areas.

The real value of a conference is the opportunity to find a professional mentor. Or, if you are more advanced in your field, it is an opportunity for you to become a mentor to someone new to tech comm.

The real value comes in the form of peer-to-peer recommendations and access to projects and employment.

The real value is the unofficial sharing of ideas, innovation, and technology. It is discovering that there are other people in other companies and other countries that are going through the very same process and technology issues as you and your team.

So Now What?

The conference is over…so now what?

What you do with all the new-found knowledge and connections is equally important as acquiring them in the first place. As for me, in the week since the conference, I have connected with many new friends and associates on LinkedIn and Twitter. I have had several email conversations as follow-up to discussions started at the Summit. I’ve joined a Slack discussion channel for key topics. I’ve joined a study group to prepare for taking the certification exam to become a Certified Professional Technical Communicator (CPTC). That’s just in week one, but it doesn’t end here. The journey and the value will continue throughout the year until it is time for the next Summit. It’s all part of what one friend has described as “keeping the magic of the Summit alive.”

So, the next time you talk to your boss about attending a conference, don’t just describe the conference content, explain the real value of attending.

MKheadshot4-11-16MK Grueneberg
STC Associate Fellow
CAAEC Chair
*Twitter @stcchicago @MKGee
*LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/mkgrueneberg
This blog post is part of a series of curated and edited posts authored by attendees at Summit 2016. The posts will discuss key takeaways and efforts by individuals and STC Communities to build on their Summit experience. If you’d like to contribute a post, let us know.

{ 0 comments }

After STC Summit

by Ben Woelk on 7 June 2016

Measuring Conference ROI

stc-lightsBy Alisa Bonsignore

Yes, I am on the board of directors for the Society for Technical Communication (STC), so there is probably an inherent bias to any analysis of the conference, but I can honestly say that this was quite possibly the best Summit I’ve ever attended. The speakers were excellent, the sessions were packed, and I came away with lots of new ideas and new contacts. Overall, it was everything that I wanted from a conference.

As an independent, committing to a conference is tough. There’s no getting around the fact that attending a conference — any conference — is a steep financial commitment in terms of conference fees, hotels, travel and meals, not to mention the fact that you’re not earning money during the time away. It takes a significant leap of faith to trust that this investment is going to pay off.

So how do you measure the ROI on a conference? It’s not something that’s obvious on the first day back in the office. How and when does the value make itself clear?

I’ve taken a step back to look at my notes and see what I learned.

  • From Ben Woelk, I re-evaluated my role as an introvert, read a bit more about how my rare INFJ personality works best with others, and had a few “aha!” moments regarding a few of my clients’ personalities. That kind of insight can really go a long way.
  • Aimee Roundtree’s session on big data got me thinking about my recent Coursera Data Science Specialization in a new way.
  • Richard Hamilton’s session about self-publishing gave me some insights that I needed for a potential project that a client has been batting around.
  • Matt Sullivan laid out the how-to of using your content to create killer courseware. In a lot of ways, we were on the same page for how we go about projects, but he laid it out in such a clear, straightforward way that actually clarified part of the process for me.
  • David Rumsey discussed writing for translation and globalization, a must for all of my clients.

And this doesn’t even begin to cover the people that I met. The new follower notifications on Twitter are coming fast and furious, and I’ve already joined a newly formed Slack group to keep us all connected post-Summit.

Did you attend the Summit in Anaheim? What did you learn? If you attend other conferences, how do you find the ROI?

Alisa Bonsignore

 

Alisa Bonsignore
Senior Member
Lone Writers SIG

* LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alisabonsignore
* Twitter: @clearwriter
* Blog: http://clarifyingcomplexideas.com

 

 


This blog post is part of a series of curated and edited posts authored by attendees at Summit 2016. The posts will discuss key takeaways and efforts by individuals and STC Communities to build on their Summit experience. If you’d like to contribute a post, let us know.

After the Summit appear initially at http://clarifyingcomplexideas.com/2016/05/after-stc-summit/

{ 0 comments }

Keeping the Magic of Summit Alive

by Ben Woelk on 6 June 2016

magic-1081149_960_720

Keeping the Magic of Summit Alive

STC Summit Anaheim was my ninth Summit! For the last several years, I’ve almost always returned from Summit energized, excited to have made new connections, sad about saying goodbye to friends that I see only once a year, and full of new ideas that I want to try.

Invariably, the magic fades

The tedium/rhythm of everyday life returns, and the excitement is over. Summer is traditionally a slow period for many chapters as well, so there’s not always an opportunity to put Leadership Day recommendations in place while they’re fresh.

This year, I decided that I did not want to lose the magic so quickly.

Here’s what I’m doing to keep the magic alive

I presented An Introvert’s Journey to Leadership at this year’s conference. The presentation was about my journey to leadership and included strategies and resources for introverted leaders. Like many of the sessions, it was standing room only. I had numerous conversations with attendees, realized the impact of the presentation, and decided I wanted to continue the discussion.

  1. I’m in the process of connecting on LinkedIn and other social media with my session attendees (Names gleaned from SCHED, the social networking tool STC provided for Summit attendees.) I’m also inviting them to #2 below.
  2. I have created a Slack channel to discuss introverted leadership, personality types, and the books I recommended as resources. (The channel is open to anyone interested. Contact me and I’ll invite you.)
  3. Using that Slack channel, I formed a study group for the Certified Professional Technical Communicator (CPTC) exam, STC’s revamped certification program. (Initially, I was unsure what to think of certification. However, we’re living in an age when industry-specific certifications are becoming ubiquitous.) I received my Certified Information Systems Security Professionals (CISSP) designation last year, so why not add a CPTC? I’ve also been talking to security professionals about techcomm basics, so it makes sense for me to have the certification I’m recommending.
  4. I’m doing selected follow-up conversations with connections, aka peeps, made at Summit. Individual followup provides an opportunity to strengthen these new connections and to determine how I, as a seasoned leader, can best support them. (I have a passion for mentoring and coaching new leaders.)
  5. The Rochester Chapter held an end of year celebration of our Community Achievement Award recognition as Community of the Year, Platinum Community, and Pacesetter Community. We shared our best takeaways from Summit.

 

It’s only a few weeks after Summit. I’m writing this now because I need to get my thoughts together before they fade.

What are you doing to keep the magic alive?

ben 2012 croppedBen Woelk
Senior Member
Rochester, Academic SIG, Policies and Procedures SIG

*   Facebook: www.facebook.com/ben.woelk
*   LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/benwoelk
*   Twitter: @benwoelk
*   Blog: benwoelk.com

This is the first in a series of curated and edited posts authored by attendees at Summit 2016. The posts will discuss key takeaways and efforts by individuals and STC Communities to build on their Summit experience. If you’d like to contribute a post, let us know.

Keeping the Magic Alive appeared initially at http://benwoelk.com/keeping-magic-summit-alive/

{ 0 comments }

2016 STC International Summit Awards Judges

by STC Staff on 2 June 2016

Guest post by Karen Rempel.

STC International Summit Awards (ISA) judges are selected based on strict criteria for their professional backgrounds and experience, which indicate knowledge and application of technical communication principles. This year’s ISA judges demonstrated the commitment, knowledge, and self-motivation to provide an increased level of quality assessments for the competition entrants and completed their tasks expertly in a very short time-frame.

The 2016 ISA Competition General Manager, John Hedtke, and Judging Manager, Karen Rempel, offer our sincere gratitude to the following individuals whose service to the ISA made it all possible. We are especially appreciative that so many people stepped up enthusiastically at the last minute to help us judge. We also thank Elaine Gilliam, STC Office Competition Liaison, for her tremendous support coordinating the entry submission process and performing many other vital functions behind the scenes.

Anita Anderson

Joanne Andrew

Beth Bailey

Valerie Ball

Sumner Brown

David Calloway

Jackie Damrau

Deborah Lewis Baxley Doyle

Diane Forsyth

Teresa Goertz

Marc Gravex

MaryKay Grueneberg

Liessi Häussler

Russ Hirst

Grant Hogarth

Rachel Houghton

Shannon Lewis-Hillstrom

Scott McCoy

Rebecca Marsh

Elizabeth O’Neill

Kathryn Poe

Lynnette Pryce

Annette Reilly

Karen Rempel

Carolyn Reynolds

Mellissa Ruryk

Evalyn Shea

Heather Sommerville

Sharon Twiss

Jason Vensel

Rebecca Young

 

{ 0 comments }