Letter from the President

Fall into it

by Sharon McDonnell

Most of us have returned from our summer vacations and some of us have returned to school (or have children or grandchildren who have returned to school). The days are busier and the weather more brisk. We’re thinking about Halloween costumes and parties. We’re getting into the last quarter of the year and for many of us, that means a lot more work.

I love the Fall colors and the ability to open the doors and windows and let the fresh air in. Our chapter is also trying to breathe some fresh air into our programs and networking events. In September, we presented a program about the user’s experience along with a case study of usability testing performed for a BCBSM project. The program was held at BCBSM’s Omni Building in Southfield, was attended by 10 people and was well received. Continue reading “Letter from the President”

Letter From the President

by Sharon McDonnell

Welcome back! I hope your summer has been fun and relaxing. I spent most of mine recovering from my auto accident and doing my physical therapy to return to something resembling normal activity.

While I was home recuperating, I began to research which volunteer positions still needed to be filled for the upcoming year. I got a current membership list and started calling people to let them know I am their new president, that we would like to have some ideas for program topics and locations, and that we have several opportunities to volunteer and help out the chapter.

Volunteering

Contact anyone on the Council if you would like to volunteer to host a program, write a blog post, greet guests at an event, or take on a council position. There are plenty of ways to help out and not many of them take a commitment of a lot of time. If you are just starting out in this business, you can gain some useful experience for your resume!

Networking

Membership and attendance at meetings and programs have other benefits as well. Job seekers can attend and let the rest of us know that you’re in the market for a job. Employers can attend and announce your openings and talk to candidates. Attendees should always bring several business cards for that purpose. Job openings are also posted on the listserv. If you don’t know how to post a job opening or if you don’t know how to join the listserv, we’ll have someone available to tell you how do to that.

Looking Ahead

Keep your eyes peeled for announcements through this blog and the Upcoming Events Calendar; and the listserv and social media for programs, networking events, and Council meetings (which are open to all members). Here is what we have planned for the 2016–17 program year:

  • September: Usability Testing/User Experience. BCBSM at Omni Bldg, Southfield
  • October: Washtenaw Community College, Ann Arbor. Topic to be determined
  • November: Networking Happy Hour, northern suburbs or midtown Detroit
  • December: Holiday mixer, Ann Arbor
  • January: Virtual Tech Comm Showcase
  • February: Online meeting or webinar
  • March: Washtenaw Community College, Ann Arbor. Topic to be determined
  • April: Networking breakfast in Ann Arbor
  • May: Summit in Washington D.C.
  • June: General business meeting, end-of-year awards ceremony, and potluck luncheon at home of president

All Council meetings will be held at the home of the president for Council members and visitors, and will also be available through Adobe Connect for those who cannot attend in person. During the winter months, the meetings will only be held online. They will be held the third Sunday of every month.

Networking breakfasts, lunches, and happy hours will be another way for you to meet other technical communicators for professional networking and job sharing. These events will take place in a variety of places throughout our chapter’s geographic location. If you would like to host one of these events, please contact us and let us know where and when you’d like to do so.

Election Results for 2016–2017

The results of the recent STC/SM election of officers for the 2016/2017 program year are summarized below.

  • Total number of ballots sent out on electionbuddy.com: 37
  • Total number of ballots cast: 11
  • Percentage of members who voted: 29.7%

Based on the votes cast, the winning nominees for each office were:

  • Vice-President-Elect: Alison Phillips
  • Treasurer-Elect: Maryann Bowen

As noted previously, Sharon McDonnell, who served as STC/SM Vice-President in 2014/2015 and 2015/2016, will transition to the office of STC/SM President as provided by our chapter by-laws.

Congratulations to our newly elected officers, and thank you for running for office and being involved in the governance of our chapter. Continue reading “Election Results for 2016–2017”

Welcome Back! A Letter From the President

Greetings everyone:

We had our annual planning meeting last Sunday, August 16, at our vice president’s home.

What will we be doing this coming year? Attending networking events, mingling and learning with our user-experience colleagues, and attending programs that focus on tools of the trade.

2015–2016 Events

Continue reading “Welcome Back! A Letter From the President”

A Look Back at the 2014–2015 Program Year

“We had some terrific programming and networking events this year,” according to STC/SM Vice President Sharon McDonnell. I concur.

The mix of networking and programming events seemed to work well, especially as the networking events were hosted by people from the areas where the events were held, so our Programs Manager could concentrate on programs.  Continue reading “A Look Back at the 2014–2015 Program Year”

Welcome to a New Program Year: A Letter from the President

by Pat MartzP Martz Feb 2013

We had our Council and Planning meeting at Washtenaw Community College on Sunday, September 14, so I would like to fill you in on some of our plans for the year. Most of our discussions revolved around planning the program year, but we also discussed tweaking the fee structure and volunteer opportunities.

While this is my chance to talk to you, please feel free to contact me with ideas or questions.
Continue reading “Welcome to a New Program Year: A Letter from the President”

Some presidential reflections

Written by Tom Glennan

Tom Glennan

The STC-SM member showcase and volunteer appreciation dinner meeting held on June 25 at Little Daddy’s in Livonia was a great opportunity to recognize and reflect on the contributions of our members both in the workplace and in our chapter. And it also gave me the opportunity to reflect on the past program year as my year of serving as your chapter president draws to a close. In reflecting, we can both celebrate what we have achieved and think about where we want to go as a chapter. Continue reading “Some presidential reflections”

Beating the Winter Blahs – and Other Insights from the January 9th Networking Lunch

Written by Tom Glennan

The weather and driving conditions were far from ideal for the January 9th networking lunch at Panera Bread in Rochester Hills, but the hearty souls who braved the elements to share in a light lunch and good conversation found plenty to talk about between mouthfuls of hot soup and cookies.

At these networking events, besides the opportunity for networking and sharing war stories from the front lines of the technical communication battle, I look forward to hearing from our STC/SM members (and not-yet members) about their views of the chapter, particularly the value of chapter membership and the benefits that it can provide. So one of the things that I sought feedback about last Thursday was the program topics and speakers we’ve had in the recent past and that we’re planning for in the 2013-2014 program year. Many of the topics that members have asked for are related directly to day-to-day needs, such as information about tools like FrameMaker® and RoboHelp® by Adobe®, MadCap FlareTM, and XML, and strategies such as Agile and content management systems. But I was also reminded that there are other topics that members are totally unfamiliar with but would like to learn more about. Continue reading “Beating the Winter Blahs – and Other Insights from the January 9th Networking Lunch”

Welcome back!

Written by Tom Glennan

Tom Glennan

As the incoming president of the STC/Southeastern Michigan (STC/SM) chapter, I’d like to welcome all of our members and other technical communication professionals to the 2013-2014 program year. With a new chapter leadership team in place and continued support from many of our long-serving volunteers, I’m really excited and looking forward to the many opportunities and services we plan to offer to the technical communication community in southeastern Michigan.

At our combination “Welcome Back!” program and council meeting on Wednesday, September 25 on the campus of Lawrence Tech in Southfield, all of the chapter officers and volunteer leaders had the opportunity to discuss their goals and plans for the coming year. I gave a brief presentation on my vision for our chapter, which focuses on establishing STC/SM as “our local STC home for networking, education, and camaraderie.” This also happens to be our “tagline” for our website, which is in the process of being redesigned for a fresher look and improved usability (check it out at http://www.stc-sm.org). Specifically, I plan to work with the chapter officers and volunteers to:
• Complete and submit our 2013-2014 budget to STC by October 31 (almost three weeks ahead of schedule)
• Increase membership by 15 percent (not-yet-members, please feel free to help us reach this goal)
• Plan and conduct at least seven program meetings/events
• Complete the launch of our redesigned website
• Revive and implement a scholarship awards program

Our new vice president, Pat Martz, who has also graciously agreed to continue in her role as chapter Webmaster and champion-of-all-things-Web-based, gave an overview of the work on the website that she and Pam Finger, a student in LTU’s technical and professional communication graduate program, have completed and are still working on. We’re all very excited about the work that has been completed to date, and are anxiously looking forward to the improvements that are yet to come.

Mary Jo David, a chapter member whom many of you know as past president (and wearer of various other volunteer hats), has jumped in to help us with our membership recruitment and retention efforts with considerable research and investigation into the needs of our members, and the services, resources and opportunities they are looking for from STC and STC/SM. Mary Jo is also spearheading a new series of informal networking lunches (or breakfasts or happy hours) throughout the southeast Michigan region, and already successfully conducted one such luncheon in Plymouth, Michigan on October 9. More such events are in the planning stages for the near future, so check our website frequently for upcoming dates and locations.

Lisa Veasey, another long-time member who has served the chapter in both elected and volunteer positions, has graciously offered to help with identifying ideas and topics for upcoming chapter meetings and events and working to locate and arrange for speakers on the selected topics. Our first such event is titled “Thinking Outside of the (Pizza) Box: Creative Tech Communication at Domino’s” and will be an interactive discussion of how Domino’s uses innovative and engaging technical communication to promote their many products to their customers. The meeting will be held at the offices of Thomson Reuters in Dexter, Michigan, beginning with registration and networking at 6:30 PM on Tuesday, October 29. Lisa is also working on a host of other ideas and speakers for future events, so keep checking the STC/SM website for more details as they become available.

I could tell you about even more ideas that we have for making STC/SM your “local STC home,” but it would be much more fun to do so in person or one on one. So feel free to drop me a line at president@stc-sm.org or, better yet, plan on attending an upcoming STC/SM program meeting, networking lunch or other event so we can discuss together how to best move our chapter forward.

Looking forward to seeing each of you at an STC/SM event soon,
Tom Glennan
STC/SM President

Final post from the Summit!

Written by Tom Glennan

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.