I’ll be going to my first STC Summit in a couple of weeks and I’m already really excited about it. Here are my top 5 reasons and motivations:
1. Learn about new trends
The obvious reason to attend a conference: Many of the 80 sessions cover new industry trends – or at least topics that are new to me. We’re currently implementing a new HAT which brings a a lot of opportunities and some challenges, so I’m looking forward to:
- Andrea Ames’ Improving the User Experience by Applying Progressive Information Disclosure
- Nicky Bleiel’s Five+ Ways to Add Interactivity to Online Help
Peter Lubbers’ Getting Started with HTML5
Michael Priestley’s Using DITA
- Andrew Thomas and Arte Kenyon’s A Writer’s Firsthand Account of DITA in the High Tech Workplace
2. Find inspiration and solutions
The sometimes unexpected benefit: At previous conferences, I frequently got ideas about improving a broken process or solving an irritating problem, even if that was not the main focus of a session. Such insights might come from an aside comment or something I see on a slide that inspires me to connect the dots. That’s why I’m looking forward to:
- Scott Berkun’s keynote The Myths of Innovation
- Scott Abel’s Turning Technical Documentation into Profit
Karen Mulholland’s Greatly Exceeds Expectations
Neil Perlin’s Developing for the Unknown
3. Present my own session
A highlight for will be Pattern Recognition for Technical Communicators!
I’ll be on Wednesday morning at 8:30. I know that’ll be difficult after Tuesday’s banquet and whatever after-hours may transpire. But it’s actually a very good time!
- A good time for you, because you can ease into the last day with an entertaining session that gives you a different, thought-provoking perspective on what you do anyway.
- A good time for me, because I can get a feel for the conference on Monday and Tuesday and then get it out of the way firsrt thing on Wednesday. So I hope to see you there!
The conference program
After teasing you about several interesting sessions, here’s the complete conference program:
- In a website, sortable by track, time, speaker or session code
- In PDF, sorted by day and time, with session codes and titles only
- In Excel 97-2003, sorted by day and time, with titles and main presenter
The first two are the official resources from the summit website, the spreadsheet is from me. All three are current as of May 6, but only the first one will be up to date in case of changes (an updated PDF may have a different link…). To be on the safe side, check the official summit website. – Now back to the reasons…
4. Meet old friends, make new friends
The pleasant side effect also called “networking”: As much as I enjoy social media as a virtual lifeline to stay in touch with the techcomm community, nothing beats meeting in person over a beer once or twice a year. So I’m looking forward to meeting speakers and delegates, tweeps and blog readers!
5. See Chicago
The tourist bit: I know Chicago a little bit from when I went to UW Madison in the 1990s. But I haven’t been in a while, and I’m especially looking forward to visiting the Art Institute and the new Modern Wing – or at least new to me.
6. Shop around for help authoring tools
Your bonus reason. The company I work for is not in the market right now for a new tool, but maybe you are. With more than 50 product and service providers exhibiting, you’ll have an excellent chance to see a lot of products up close and compare them closely. It’s a little like meeting friends: Nothing beats a first hands-on experience, and it’s a lot less daunting when you don’t have to install a trial version and click your way around. Vendor exhibitions at conferences were essential for us when we were choosing our tool.
7. Deep dish pizza
The gourmet reason. Thanks to Larry Kunz for the reminder, see his comment below. I was quite fond of Pizzeria Uno in my Madison days…
- If I forgot a reason to go to a conference, please share it below. If you’re attending the STC Summit, I hope to meet you in Chicago!