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.

Hello from the Summit!

Written by Tom Glennan

Hello from soggy Atlanta, Georgia! Daily highs in the mid-40s to low 50s, rain, wind, and morning fog – it must be STC Summit time in Georgia. In spite of the weather, this year’s Summit program has really been outstanding, and the learning and networking opportunities so far have really made this trip worthwhile. So I thought I’d drop a quick note about my thoughts and experiences before starting my Tuesday afternoon sessions.

Sunday I attended my first Leadership Day, and it was definitely an eye-opening experience. As the STC-SM chapter’s incoming president, I’ve been anxious to learn everything I can about the duties and responsibilities of my new office, and compare notes and experiences with the leadership from other communities who attended the event. While it’s apparent to me after hearing some of the speakers and discussion leaders on Sunday (and yesterday afternoon at the business meeting) that the Society and many other communities are facing many of the same challenges and difficulties that we are at STC-SM, it’s also very clear that the leaders I’ve met are up to the task. I was really encouraged by the sense of togetherness that I felt when speaking with others, and the resources that are available to us. Maryann Bowen and I have already talked several times with each other and with other chapter leaders and members. (For example, I had lunch with the Southeast Ohio chapter yesterday, of which I am also a member.) We’ve been putting together our lists of things to tackle and the options available to us as we work to build upon and expand the recent successes of our chapter, while also preparing for the future with new ideas and approaches. We’ll be sharing these ideas with you and with the Leadership Council over the coming weeks and months.

Of course, I’ve also been focused on using my participation at the Summit as an excellent opportunity to learn and apply many ideas for adding new or improved skills and abilities to my technical communicator toolbox, as well as my personal branding and career development. The Summit has been very beneficial and informative, beginning with an excellent case study yesterday on single-source collaboration for developing a training program materials, and subsequent sessions on using content management systems and sharpening my subject matter expert interviewing skills, as well as some sessions with vendors to better understand how to apply their products, And a free newly published book on how to use Adobe® FrameMaker® 11 was the icing on the cake (so far).

Well, I need to catch the progression session on writing and editing, but I’ll send an additional blog posting at the Summit’s conclusion. In the meantime, send me an email (tglennan@twsinfo.com, and no, I don’t do Facebook® or Twitter®) if you have any comments or questions, and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

Tom Glennan
Incoming STC-SM president

Letter from the President

Written by Jill Money

Jill Money, STC-SM Chapter President

This is an exciting year for our chapter! Several members are offering their time and expertise with the chapter and their efforts are already adding value and energy to the chapter.

Pat Martz, Webmaster: Pat has been busy redesigning the STC-SM chapter website. The redesign simplifies and streamlines the site, both improving the user experience and reducing the complexity of updating and maintaining information. This helps us get information out to our members faster. Pat is a principal in Inkberry Solutions, an Ann Arbor-based company that focuses on technical communication for small firms. She has a background in the sciences and completed an M.S. degree in Technical and Professional Communication at Lawrence Technological University. As STC-SM Webmaster, Pat was assisted in evaluating the website by Lawrence Technological University graduate student Pam Finger. We are very grateful for the work Pat and Pam have already done and look forward to continued improvements to the site.

Pam Finger is a candidate in the Master of Science in Technical and Professional Communication program at Lawrence Tech. Pam’s practicum includes gathering information from users for the redesign. Pam and Pat Martz held an interactive program event in September in which they solicited feedback from attendees on the usability, flow, look, feel and prioritization of content. Pam’s upbeat style and energy in addition to her openness to ideas and feedback are sure to make her practicum as well as the STC-SM website redesign end product a great success!

Jack DeLand, Professional Liaison: Jack is already busy finding synergies with other groups such as local area businesses and professional associations to cross-promote and support events and information to members across the field. Jack is a Certified Scrum Master and Agile practitioner with 30 years in the software and engineering documentation games. Jack has lectured on help systems at STC events and at the WritersUA conference, and is widely known for creating the interactive multimedia version of the Microsoft® Windows® Resource Kits documentation set. Jack’s degrees are in English and German, but he is most proud of his internship in Organizational Development with Dr. Larry Lippitt of the National Training Laboratories.

Susan Fisher, Secretary: In 1980, with a Master’s degree from the University of Michigan’s School of Art & Design behind her, Sue started a career as a technical communicator, writing user instructions for a computer company. Soon thereafter, she joined STC-SM and then moved into the company’s new training function. Thirty years later, she’s lead instructional designer and performance consultant at Innovative Learning Group (www.innovativeLG.com) in Royal Oak — but she’s still a tech writer at heart! Sue’s current big interest is mobile learning and performance support. In 2012, she presented sessions on designing learning solutions for mobile delivery at the mLearnCon Mobile Learning Conference & Expo in San Jose and the Chicago eLearning & Technology Showcase. She’s also slated to present at the American Society for Training & Development’s 2013 International Conference in Dallas.

Sharon McDonnell, Newsletter / Blog Manager: Sharon is a senior analyst in Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s Provider Relations department and has been an active volunteer with our chapter since 1998. Sharon began volunteering with us as assistant to the Webmaster, followed by program registration and assistance and then Treasurer. This year she is working closely with Pat and Pam on implementing a blog on the STC-SM website. Have something you’d like to add to our blog? Send to Sharon at newsletter@stc-sm.org.

Returning Volunteers / Council members are Maryann Bowen (Immediate Past President), Tom Glennan (Vice President and Educational Liaison), Barry Matthews (Treasurer), Deb Stacy (Job Board / Listserv), Mary Jo David (Membership Chairperson) and me as your 2013 President and Publicity Manager.

Thank you to all STC-SM members and chapter volunteers. We’re always looking for suggestions for blog articles and program event speakers from our members and volunteers. Feel free to send any ideas along to Sharon at newsletter@stc-sm.org or to me at president@stc-sm.org.