The 2019 schedule is now available!

Full Schedule

The 2019 schedule is now available! 

Please note that the Saturday and Sunday Preconference Workshops have an additional registration fee.

Concurrent Education sessions are highlighted by both session type and experience level to help you better plan your conference experience.

The 2019 Summit AttendeeHub app will allow you to create schedules, network and setup appointments with other attendees, provide feedback, and share announcements in the newsfeed. When the app is up, all registered attendees will receive an email announcement.


  • Content Design and Delivery
  • Tools and Technologies
  • Training Development and Delivery
  • Project Management, Leadership, and Career Development

Experience Level

  • Foundation: The content is introductory (for example, “101 level”) and suitable for all skill or knowledge levels. Beginner to three years of experience.
  • Practitioner: Attendees are proficient with the topic, but will learn new and challenging material. 3 to 7+ years of experience.
  • Expert: The material is suitable for attendees who have advanced knowledge or job responsibilities (such as supervisor or manager). 10+ years of experience.

Session Types

  • Presentation
    Presentations provide attendees an overview of the title topic. A presentation can be a case study, research report, demonstration, or informational session about a topic of interest. Presentations usually include slides and/or handouts, and many presenters offer audience participation or a Q&A at the end.
  • Pre-conference Workshop (Half or Full Day)
    Pre-conference workshops are for people seeking a more in-depth learning experience on a specific topic prior to the Summit education sessions. There are half-day workshops conducted in the morning or afternoon (before or after a lunch break), and full-day workshops that are conducted in the morning and afternoon (with a break for lunch in between).

Click on individual session titles for more details.

Click here to see the list of speakers.

Click here to download a PDF version of the session schedule.

Saturday, 4 May

Full-Day Workshop

CPTC Preparation Training Course with Exam

Alan Houser & Jamie Gillenwater
Saturday, 4 May | 8:30 AM-4:30 PM | Quartz AB
Sunday, 5 May | 8:30 AM-5:00 PM | Quartz AB

This does not include Summit conference registration. The registration fees for the CPTC Training course are separate from the Summit registration and provided by the instructors. The STC member rate is $1295, and the nonmember rate is $1545. You must register with the trainers.

Register for the CPTC Certification Workshop:

Register for the paper exam only:

Creating the Right Solutions for Real Audience Problems using Design Thinking

Andrea Ames
8:00 AM-5:00 PM | Mineral A
Practitioner | Content Design and Delivery

*This workshop is 50% off the full day workshop rate. Only 48 spots available!

Have you wondered, “What is all the fuss about this Design Thinking thing, anyway?” Although it sounds like something that only designers could or should care about, it’s a problem-solving framework for everyone! If you’ve got a challenge, Design Thinking is an excellent approach to finding the very best solution. In this full-day, hands-on, experiential workshop, Andrea will facilitate participants to operate as a single team and identify one or more solutions to a fun challenge area that will be relevant to all. We’ll go low-tech with flip-chart paper and sticky notes to take advantage of the face-to-face opportunity, but Andrea will discuss the best ways for geographically distributed teams to get the most from the process using online tools. You will participate in identifying solutions for a real-world challenge, and you will learn:

  • The Design Thinking framework for solving nearly any kind of problem.
  • Several key methods that can be used within the framework to quickly bring the team harmoniously to the very best solutions while ensuring that all team members contribute.
  • Andrea’s tried and true facilitation tips so that you can bring this methodology back to work and facilitate a successful workshop immediately.

Sunday, 5 May

CPTC Preparation Training Course with Exam

Alan Houser & Jamie Gillenwater
Saturday, 4 May | 8:30 AM-4:30 PM | Quartz AB
Sunday, 5 May | 8:30 AM-5:00 PM | Quartz AB

This does not include Summit conference registration. The registration fees for the CPTC Training course are separate from the Summit registration and provided by the instructors. The STC member rate is $1295, and the nonmember rate is $1545. You must register with the trainers.

Register for the CPTC Certification Workshop:

Register for the paper exam only:

Registration Open

Registration Counter
7:30 AM-8:00 PM | Outside Expo Hall

Leadership Program

8:00 AM-Noon | Mineral FG

The Leadership Program is hosted by STC’s Communities Affairs Committee. It is designed to recognize innovative communities, provide STC community leaders with training in best practices for a successful community, and enable community leaders to network with their peers from across the country. The Community Achievement Award and Pacesetter Award winners will be announced at this session.

Adobe Workshop

Noon-5:00 PM | Mineral A-C

Sponsored by Adobe.

Opening General Session and Welcome Reception

Opening General Session, Welcome Reception, and Expo Hall Open
5:00-7:30 PM | Centennial Ballroom

Attend the opening general session with Keynote speaker, Peter Morville. Immediately following is the Welcome Reception in the Expo Hall. You’ll catch up with old friends, network, and meet exhibitors.

Full-Day Workshop

API Documentation Workshop

Tom Johnson
8:00 AM-5:00 PM | Mineral D
Practitioner | Content Design and Delivery

In this workshop, you’ll learn about API documentation in the context of using a simple weather API — making requests and analyzing the responses. We’ll cover the essential elements of API reference topics (such as endpoints, parameters, and response schemas), how OpenAPI speciQcation and Swagger work (as well as tools to simplify spec development), expected non-reference topics (such as authorization and rate limiting), version control workvows (in Git and GitHub), and more. If you’re starting to document a REST API, this workshop will get you up and running in the right direction. You’ll leave with a solid grasp of the necessary components of REST API documentation as well as how to deliver an interactive learning experience that developers want.

Workshop Takeaways:

  • REST APIs involve requests and responses, not too unlike visiting a web page — you make
    a request to a resource stored on a server, and the server responds with the requested
  • Web API reference topics have Qve essential sections: resource descriptions, endpoints
    and methods, parameters, request examples, and response examples + schemas.
  • The OpenAPI speciQcation provides a standard structure for describing your REST API;
    Swagger UI can consume the OpenAPI spec to provide interactive documentation.

Half-Day Workshops

Necessities of Editing

Linda Oestreich
8:00 AM-Noon | Granite A
Practitioner | Tools and Technologies

This half-day workshop is an abridged version of the 2-day certificate for Technical Editing Fundamentals offered to STC members in years past. In it, learn how you can survive in a world where technical editing often is ignored and devalued, how to be seen as a professional, and how to add value to your company while you maintain integrity, skills, and passion for your work. The workshop includes discussions and exercises to help you embrace the history of the field, levels of edit, toolbox contents, attitudes for success, and basic principles that we’ve often forgotten. Will also add discussions from current research and published materials about impact of technology on basics.


(1) Refresh basic skills; (2) Review importance of basic editing to all technical communication; (3) Practical advice and practice in providing strong foundation for all types of communication (4) Review current literature about importance of foundations

Designing Compelling and Powerful Infographics

Mike Parkinson
8:00 AM-Noon | Mineral E
Foundation | Tools and Technologies

Learn to turn your words and data into clear, communicative, compelling graphics. Powerful visuals improve understanding, recollection, persuasion, and increase the likelihood that your audience will adopt your content.

This workshop shows you how to communicate even the most complex content in a way that is impactful and unforgettable. No design skill is needed.

Takeaways include the following:

  • Make any complex idea easy to understand in three steps
  • Learn to turn ideas, text and data into graphics
  • Visualize and better communicate your solutions
  • Make professional graphics that are clear, communicative, and compelling
  • Get tips and the latest tools
  • Know where to go to find the right imagery at the right price

Git the Docs: A Fun, Hands-On Introduction to Source Control

Becky Todd
8:00 AM-Noon | Granite B
Foundation | Tools and Technologies

Learning Git for the first time can be intimidating, especially for non-developers. When I first learned Git, I did it the hard way (mostly using internet searches and StackOverflow). And I hated it. It was confusing, and it seemed like a necessary evil. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Learning Git can be fun!

This hands-on workshop will teach you how to use a Git-based workflow for writing documentation. Together, we’ll walk through some tricky Git concepts, breaking each down into easy-to-understand pieces. By the end of the session, you’ll have gained confidence with:

  • Using the Git workflow day-to-day
  • Managing pull requests like a pro
  • Handling a basic merge conflict
  • Undoing your own Git mistakes
  • To get the most out of this workshop, you’ll need to bring a computer capable of connecting to wifi.

Information Design Essentials

Saul Carliner
8:00 AM-Noon | Granite C
Foundation | Content Design and Delivery

Consider the trap of online content. The more that’s available, the more effort needed to get what’s needed.  This half-day workshop shows you how to design content that users can easily find and comprehend, and generate the desired response.  Through a case-study approach, you identify the 15 essential information design techniques, pertaining to issues such as setting effective, measurable goals for projects, gaining, holding the attention of users, and following writing techniques that promote the effectiveness of users.

What You Should Learn:

  • Describe the role of information design in technical communication.
  • Apply techniques that clarify users’ needs and promote empathy with their concerns.
  • Describe the role of objectives in focusing a project.
  • Apply a four-level approach to evaluating the effectiveness of projects.
  • Apply writing and communication approaches for (a) ensuring the right amount of content is presented; (b) strengthening user performance; and (c) building ongoing relationships with users.

Who Should Attend:

  • Technical communicators
  • Instructional designers
  • Content developers
  • Content strategists
  • Those who have developed at least one communication product and would like to communicate information more efficiently and effectively with users.

Turning Theory into Practice: Content Strategy Demystified

John Collins
1:00-5:00 PM | Granite A
Practitioner | Content Design and Delivery

No doubt you’ve heard about content strategy. Maybe you’ve read books and blogs about it, but if you’re like me, it can still seem like an ethereal, theoretical concept. We’ve been exploring this at Atlassian.

Truth is, content strategy is at the core of decisions that technical writers make daily about content experience, editorial guidelines, content structure, and process.

The agency Brain Traffic has defined this as the Content Strategy Quad, a fantastic metaphor for explaining content strategy. It makes a good graphic in presentations, but what if the quad could do more? What if you could turn it into a tool for building shared understanding, breaking down barriers, building a content strategy, and delivering on it? We’ve done that, and now you can gather any team and use 5 key questions to form an actionable content strategy.

Come hear how Atlassian scales content strategy within a high-growth tech company, how you—a technical writer—can use the same approach with your teams, and then walk through a workshop to see the approach first-hand.


• Learn how Atlassian scales content strategy within a high-growth tech company
• Gain the tools to define a content strategy with any of your teams
• Improve your collaboration and facilitation skills

Minimalism Strategies

Dawn Stevens
1:00-5:00 PM | Granite B
Foundation | Content Design and Delivery

Minimalists define the minimalism lifestyle as the “intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.” While you may not personally subscribe to this idea, professionally as technical writers, it should be our mantra. In this workshop, Dawn Stevens, shows how to apply the four principle of a clutter-free life to our technical content:
1. Believe it is possible
2. Remove the excess
3. Implement habits to manage your clutter
4. Slow the accumulation

Add UX Methods to Your Portfolio

Michelle Gardner
1:00-5:00 PM | Granite C
Foundation | Project Management, Leadership, and Career Development

With technical communicators looking for new directions to take the content industry, consider learning more about user experience (UX). This is a great time for you to add UX methods to your portfolio. According to a 2017 study, most B2B organizations have just begun to embrace UX as a competency in their product development processes, with one-quarter hiring their first full-time UX developer in the last year. Most of these companies have had UX staff for fewer than 5 years. Moreover, almost 70% of UX personnel are self-taught.

This half-day, interactive workshop gives you the opportunity to be among the first in your organization with a strong foundation in UX practices. You will learn to review user interfaces by applying usability heuristics; understand how user personas are necessary to the design process; create journey maps to improve product features and build content; and run usability tests.


• Understand the basic concepts and practices within usability and user experience.
• Understand how to apply usability heuristics when reviewing UI labels and messages, as well as the overall user interface.
• Understand the purpose and application of user profiles for targeted content and development processes.

Designing with Memory in Mind

Patti Shank
1:00-5:00 PM | Mineral E
Practitioner | Training Development and Delivery

Working with and not against memory is critical, because memory has attributes and constraints that impact how and whether we can learn. Too much content contains (fixable) issues that make it more difficult to learn, remember, and apply. This is a huge problem when creating instruction, performance support, or informational content!

Fortunately, learning, information design, usability, and other research offers actionable tactics that help us work with memory and not against it. This workshop will help you learn, remember, and apply research-driven tactics that make it easier to work within the attributes and constraints of memory.


As a result of participating in this workshop, participants will select and implement research-driven tactics to:

  • Reduce needless mental effort.
  • Make content clearer and easier to understand.
  • Support remembering and use.

Monday, 6 May

Registration Open

Registration Open
7:30 AM-4:30 PM | Outside Expo Hall

Continental Breakfast

Continental Breakfast
7:00-8:00 AM | Expo Hall

Expo Hall Open

Expo Hall Open
8:00 AM-5:00 PM | Centennial Ballroom

Meet the 2019 exhibitors and sponsors

Measuring and Improving the Quality and Completeness of Your Documentation

Barbara Giammona
Expert | Project Management, Leadership, and Career Development
8:00-8:45 AM

My boss, the King of Continuous Improvement, threw down the gauntlet when we set my goals for the year. He asked me to come up with tangible ways to measure and improve the quality and completeness of our user documentation. We all know that measuring documentation is an extraordinary complicated thing to do. And just how do we know our documentation is complete? In this session, I will share with the several initiatives my team took to tackle this challenge with hopes of inspiring you to take a fresh look at how you might improve the performance of your own team and the satisfaction of your customers with the content you produce.


• Examples of some metrics to measure the work of your team and the success of your documentation.
• Several samples of initiatives aimed at improving your documentation and by extension your customer satisfaction.

Mastering Your Website 101

Timothy Esposito
Foundation | Tools and Technologies
8:00-8:45 AM

Feeling intimidated about running a website? Considering moving from your old hosting service to another? Don’t know the difference between your HTTPs and your PHPs? Want to learn some tricks and tips for streamlining your web presence with social media? Then this is the webinar for you. We’ll go over the basics of creating and running a website using WordPress and cPanel, along with some additional tools designed to make your webmastering easier.


  • Establishing a domain.
  • Hosting the content of that domain.
  • Creating content on your hosted domain by using WordPress.
  • Managing website background details with tools like cPanel.

Expanding Your Toolbox to Make Yourself a More Productive Editor

Kelly Schrank
Practitioner | Tools and Technologies
8:00-8:45 AM

If you use Microsoft Word to edit other people’s work, whether as an editor or as a peer reviewer or manager, you probably have your own bag of tricks to get the job done. In this session, I will share my tips and tricks, gathered from many years of experience editing different types of documents in the hopes that you will learn something new to make you a more productive editor. My goal is to cover a broad array of technical solutions and send you home with a handout to make sure you can put it into action. For the technical solutions, I will remind you of some shortcuts you may have learned and forgotten; cover some time savers like making an Editing Tools tab in Word and customizing the Spell Check to work harder for you; and automating some of your editing tasks using find and replace with wild cards and simple macros. Examples shown will be in O365 version of Word, but most should work in earlier versions. I’ll also introduce you to my favorite non-technical solution to be a more productive editor: checklists.


1. You’ll learn how to use shortcuts and time savers in Word to make yourself more efficient.
2. You’ll learn about how to automate some of your editing tasks with advanced functions.
3. You’ll learn how a personalized checklist can make you more productive and consistent in your editing.

Writing for Voice and Tone in UX Content

Nate Wolf
Practitioner | Content Design and Delivery
8:00-8:45 AM

In this session, we discuss how and why our Tech Comm team at Cisco is driving on-screen text voice and tone decisions for our products. Learn about the standards we are creating across teams and product lines to make for a consistent user experience enterprise-wide. We cover some real-world examples of the content we are creating to make this happen.


  • Why it makes sense for Tech Comm to write UX content.
  • Creating and adhering to standards.
  • Real-world examples of UX content.

You Already Know What Structured Authoring Is, and I can Prove It!

Tom Magliery
Foundation | Tools and Technologies
8:00-8:45 AM

You’ve probably been hearing about Structured Authoring for many years; the term is bandied about especially by vendors of software tools that proclaim to work with it. Vendor claims may vary in veracity, but we can shake out some essential truths about what Structured Authoring is all about. The concepts are simple, natural, and intuitive, and the advantages to be gained from adopting it are plenty. Attend this session for a glimpse of what the buzz is all about.


1. You already know what Structured Authoring is, because the concept is completely natural and intuitive.
2. XML is exactly the right way to do Structured Authoring, because SA is the reason XML was invented.
3. There are many good busine$$ reasons to do Structured Authoring with XML.

Should There Be an App for That? Incentivizing Reality Through Gamification

Kelsey Loftin
Practitioner | Content Design and Delivery
8:00-8:45 AM

Users’ rights and best interests should be taken into account when developers and businesses are creating mobile applications that use gamification principles to incentivize behavior in the real world. Some apps use overt game mechanics and others use subtle game mechanics to incentivize behavior. Some apps encourage users to build positive habits while others encourage negative or neutral habits. Others entice users to complete actions that benefit the app creators rather than the user. The combination of gamification and the behavior it motivates determines the ethical standing of the app.


  1. Gamification can be used for ethical and unethical purposes.
  2. Mobile applications are subject to the ethical use of game mechanics when incentivizing real world behavior.
  3. Developers of mobile applications should be able to measure the ethical impact on those who interact with the apps they create.

Leadership Opportunities Are Closer Than They Appear

Sara Feldman and Ben Woelk
Foundation| Project Management, Leadership, and Career Development
8:00-8:45 AM

Leadership opportunities make you a better technical communicator by increasing your credibility, bolstering your industry understanding, and accelerating your professional development.

The labels “leader” or “influencer” can be intimidating, but the reality is that leadership is more accessible than most people think. Leadership takes many different forms and is more about seeking new experiences or finding new dots to connect than obtaining any particular title. You don’t need to be “prequalified” to lead.

Sometimes being a leader is just doing what needs to be done or helping others do what needs to be done. It’s about making a difference.

Join your peers in this interactive session to address common misconceptions around leadership, expand your perspective on leadership opportunities, and take the next step in your leadership journey.


1. How to find the right fit and identify opportunities.
2. Where are you on your leadership journey and what’s the next step for you?
3. Who can you invite into leadership or provide opportunities for?

Improve Your Content and Expand Your Influence With 5 Core Questions

John Collins
Practitioner | Content Design and Delivery
8:00-8:45 AM

No doubt you’ve heard about content strategy. Maybe you’ve read books and blogs about it, but if you’re like me, it can still seem like an ethereal, theoretical concept. We’ve been exploring this at Atlassian.

Truth is, content strategy is at the core of what technical writers do every day.

Decisions about content experience, editorial guidelines, content structure, and process flow from a content strategy. The agency Brain Traffic has defined this as the Content Strategy Quad, a fantastic metaphor for explaining content strategy. It makes a good graphic in presentations, but what if the quad could do more? What if you could turn it into a tool for building shared understanding, breaking down barriers, building a content strategy, and delivering on it? We’ve done that.

Come hear how you can gather any team and use 5 key questions to form an actionable content strategy.


• Learn how Atlassian scales content strategy within a high-growth tech company.
• Gain the tools to define a content strategy with any of your teams.
• Explore ways to scale across organizations of any size.

Voice of Customer Tools that Help to Deliver Awesome Product Instructions

Michael Hall
Foundation | Tools and Technologies
9:00-9:45 AM

Are the instructions I make actually relevant and useful to users? What is the Voice of the Customer (VoC) and how do I collect and analyze it? Many communicators produce instructions in a silo, disconnected from the end-user by layers of management and geographical distance. This makes it difficult to produce information that moves beyond feature and function descriptions. As communicators, we need to deliver relevant information focused on the users needs. Attend this session to learn about tools to create a VoC study and collect user needs. Gain knowledge of how your customers use the product without relying on assumptions from engineers or product managers. In addition, do not forget how best to deliver the information. You will learn: – How to identify and get access to users to conduct a Voice of Customer (VoC) study – Create a VoC questionnaire that will collect user information needs – Analyze VoC results to develop a solid document strategy – Examples that illustrate user instructions created, with and without a VoC study.


  1. How to identify and get access to users so you can conduct a Voice of Customer (VoC) study.
  2. Create a VoC questionnaire that will collect user information needs.
  3. Analyze VoC results to develop a solid document strategy.

Managing Service Outages: Getting Users Back to Success Quickly, Clearly, and Transparently

Art Berger and Vanessa Wilburn
Practitioner | Content Design and Delivery
9:00-9:45 AM

Your users rely on your company’s products and services to satisfy a real-world need they have: whether it’s connecting with potential buyers by using your e-commerce B2B app or using your line of tools to build something. Planned maintenance, incidents, outages, recall notices—all of these are critical communication products that can empower your users to get the most out of your company’s offering, even in a potentially painful situation. Nobody wants messages that are vague, inaccurate, delayed, noisy, or undiscoverable. Technical communicators, designers, and product managers will find this presentation’s lessons-learned and hands-on activity helpful to improve their incident notification processes through user advocacy, stakeholder management, research & design, and TC development.


To improve the incident experience for your users, you’ll learn how to:
1. Coordinate with diverse set of stakeholders, advocating on behalf of the user to influence change
2. Research and design a communication strategy for incidents that works for your company’s unique situation (users, processes, tools, industry)
3. Develop useful, accurate, and transparent communication products that can be delivered quickly in relevant channels
4. Write notifications in a hands-on exercise and role play stakeholder agreement

Meet the Editors

Andrea Ames and Sam Dragga
Foundation | STC
9:00-9:45 AM

Editor-in-chief of Technical Communication, Dr. Sam Dragga, and the editor of Intercom magazine, Andrea Ames, will host a session with conference participants and STC’s contributing editors. They will explain the publication missions, editorial processes, recent submission trends, and other topics of interest for scholars and practitioners looking to publish their work. The aim of the session is to help prospective authors understand how to be published in STC venues and what content is needed. Participants will have an opportunity to comment and pose questions to the editorial teams.

Designing Use Case Content for B2B

Eeshita Grover
Practitioner | Content Design and Delivery
9:00-9:45 AM

Technical communications has traditionally been focused on helping the user create ‘how to’ content and procedures. With the modern options that our readers have for accessing and retrieving content, providing a focused, sophisticated content experience is an ongoing challenge.


In this session, we will discuss defining a use case, audience/user analysis, and leveraging the content ecosystem.

Making Agile Work for You

John Garison
Foundation | Project Management, Leadership, and Career Development
9:00-9:45 AM

The software development world has taken to Agile in a big way, but many technical communicators are less than enthusiastic about it. It doesn’t have to be that way – there are benefits and advantages for us too if we know where to look and how to use them. Whether you work in a startup or a megacorp, at a breakneck pace or something more glacial, you can adapt Agile to improve your ability to track your projects, gain control of your tasks, and even leverage developers to review your content.

This presentation provides an insider’s perspective on a successful, real-world, long-term, enterprise-wide agile implementation. We’ll examine agile meetings to see why they are important, what they accomplish, and how to use them to your advantage. We’ll look at what it’s like to be a technical communicator creating documentation in an agile environment and provide suggestions about ways to change agile and agile tools so that they work better for everyone – including you. Along the way we’ll clear up misconceptions, confront problem situations, and provide guidelines for success.


Attendees get an overview of the Agile development methodology—history, terminology, meetings, and activities—with a special focus on how technical communicators can leverage all that Agile offers to their benefit.

More Lessons Learned: What Harry Potter Professors Teach Us About Instructional Design

Jamye Sagan
Foundation | Training Development and Delivery
9:00-9:45 AM

Education plays a crucial role in the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. At Hogwarts, the school where Harry Potter and his friends study magic, we witness several examples of instruction in action. Each of these professors – whether terrible or terrific –has important lessons to share with us regarding effective instructional design and training delivery.

In this sequel presentation to “Lessons Learned”, we will profile more Hogwarts professors, and analyze the effectiveness of their lesson delivery. Within the lens of each professor profile, we will share more practical tips on tackling common training issues, as well as provide some real-life (aka Muggle) training examples.

By the end of the presentation, you will have even more tools to confidently tackle many basic training requests.

Even if you have neither read the Harry Potter books nor watched the movies, you can still learn something from the Hogwarts instructors. Plus, even if you have not viewed the first “Lessons Learned” presentation, you will still gain the knowledge needed to handle most training requests.


  • Include a variety of activities and techniques in your curriculum to help learners maintain interest, engage with the content, and remember key concepts.
  • Balance your knowledge of course material with knowledge of what your audience needs to know and be able to skillfully handle any distractions.
  • Know when and how to reward your learners, whether by giving a physical reward or by offering verbal and written praise.

How Sketching Is Like Technical Communication

Elizabeth Alley
Foundation | Tools and Technologies
9:00-9:45 AM

How Sketching Is Like Technical Communication is for visual learners and non-visual learners, for analog enthusiasts and digital devotees. This session takes the art out of sketching and puts it back in your hands.
We will compare sketching and technical communication: both are fact-finding missions that require examining a subject and describing it for the reader or viewer. Science offers proof that sketching, drawing, and doodling improve memory and attention. This session looks at how and why that is. We’ll also see how sketching can help you work out problems, take better notes, and understand your subject better. A brief look at tools will round out the session.

Attendees will learn:
• The connections between sketching and learning.
• How sketching improves your observation skills and your memory.
• How sketching can be used in every day life and work.
• That anyone can sketch.

Taxonomies for Technical Communication: Best Practices for Use in the Real World

Jennifer Shumate
Foundation | Content Design and Delivery
10:00-11:00 AM

Managing a large amount of content is equal parts art and science. Left to its own devices, it can quickly devolve into chaos. A strict taxonomy keeps your content organized and allows you to easily identify how all of your content fits together. During this interactive session, you will learn what a taxonomy is, how it can help you, and how to create one of your own. You’ll also get to try out your new skills by building a simple taxonomy for a real-world software application.


Participants in this session will learn:
• The first steps for developing a taxonomy.
• Best practices for creating a hierarchical taxonomy.
• How to identify the inherent relationships within their content.

Participants will also gain hands-on experience by building a simple taxonomy, using these concepts.

Docs as Code and DITA

George Bina
Practitioner | Tools and Technologies
10:00-11:00 AM

Treating Documentation as Code and using similar tools as developers and trying to integrate and synchronize the documentation with the code is a trend known as “Docs as Code” that gained a lot of attention and adoption in the recent years. The choice for the documentation format however, is advised to be a plain text markup like Markdown, reStructuredText or Asciidoc, which work ok but they do not feature functionality that we find in more elaborate languages like DITA: reuse, semantic markup, profiling and so on. In general, DITA is seen as part of a CCMS integrated solution and incompatible with the agile approach promoted by Docs as Code ideas. The reality is that DITA is well suited for the Docs as Code approach, it provides a lightweight flavor that is a good starting point for contributions, then if more advanced functionality is needed one can use the full DITA support, and more, if specific custom functionality is needed one can develop and use their own flavor of DITA, a DITA “specialization”, so it gives a full range of choices for all possible needs. DITA is based on XML, so it is also a plain text markup but the lightweight DITA can be written also in Markdown or HTML.

Join this session to discover how you can benefit of both the agility of a Docs as Code methodology and the flexibility and power of DITA as the documentation format.


  • DITA supports contributions from developers and other subject matter experts through lightweight DITA, full capabilities through base DITA and customization and flexibility through specialized DITA.
  • You can benefit of the agility of a Docs as Code approach, using existing tools and workflows in the developers’ environment and combine that with DITA as the documentation format to benefit of semantic tagging, reuse, profiling, validation, etc.
  • DITA can be both integrated in existing publishing workflows but you can also integrate other formats into DITA publishing workflows.

Speed Editing: Doing the Most Good With the Least Time and Support!

Linda Oestreich
Practitioner | Tools and Technologies
10:00-11:00 AM

This presentation will provide some basic tips and tricks for getting the most bang for your editing buck! How to make the biggest difference in the smallest amount of time, with minuscule support.


  1. Quick editing tips;
  2. Thinking of the user first;
  3. Keeping editorial sanity in a world that doesn’t seem to care.

Making Video Part of Your Localization Strategy

Sarah Stegall
Practitioner| Content Design and Delivery
10:00-11:00 AM

Technical illustration has evolved into technical instructional videos, and technical writing has expanded to encompass localization for international audiences. This session will discuss the confluence of these two strategies: producing video for an international audience, with the focus on how to prepare a video for translation or voiceover. Just as we would alter a documentation strategy in preparation for translation, we need to prepare videos for subtitling, voice-over narration, and even animation in foreign languages. Video can be the ultimate write-once, deliver-many strategy, but it must be planned for carefully.


• Simplifying and streamlining technical material.
• Localization of scripts and narratives.
• Re-using audio and video streams for different audiences.

The Why, How, and What to do Next of Measuring Quality

Kerwin Kilian and Kim Schwarzkopf
Expert | Project Management, Leadership, and Career Development
10:00-11:00 AM

The core values of John Deere are commitment, innovation, integrity and quality. This session will provide a guided journey of how John Deere Information Development Services defines, measures, and manages quality in technical communications. Through a defined review process that includes both copy and technical editing, John Deere gathers data from internal and external writers to measure and report quality. This process ensures the readability and accuracy of John Deere’s Technical Communications. Whether your staff of writers is 5 or 500, John Deere’s method of measuring content quality can be scaled to meet the needs of your organization.


1. Developing a review process.
2. Executing the process and analyzing the results.
3. Using lessons-learned for continuous improvement.

An Introduction to Content Auditing: SEO, Assessment, and Content Management

Guiseppe Getto
Foundation | Content Design and Delivery
10:00-11:00 AM

We all have content within our organizations that is outdated and hard to manage. Typically, we write content on an as-needed basis and once it is published, we don’t look back at it, sometimes ever. Within this context, how many of us can say that every piece of public-facing content within our organization has been recently assessed for currency, reliability, authoritativeness, or SEO? And even more importantly: how many of us can say that we have a sustainable system in place for assessing our content on a regular basis?

Content auditing is an essential task for ensuring our content is continually useful, usable, and engaging and is also SEO-friendly and optimized for particular audiences. This tutorial will introduce you to the ins and outs of conducting content audits for your organization, be it a business, university, non-profit, or governmental entity. You will be introduced to the core tasks essential to any content audit. You will leave the tutorial with a variety of tools and best practices for assessing all the different types of content you are responsible for.

This session is for anyone interested in content auditing, content management, or SEO and will require no previous experience with these topics. In this session, you will learn:

  • How to create criteria for conducting a content audit, including SEO, authority, currency, and reliability.
  • How to capture and assess all different types of content using a single database.
  • How to analyze and report findings to stakeholders, including decision-makers within your organization, in order to create a concrete plan for managing content in the future.
  • For optimal results, an open-source project manager must balance the need for content contributions from volunteers with the need for maintaining standards.

Tech Comm Trends: Providing Value as a Generalist in a Sea of Specialists

Tom Johnson
Practitioner | Content Design and Delivery
10:00-11:00 AM

Trends in technical communication can be hard to decipher, even when looking at data. But one underlying trend is that technology seems to be getting more specialized and complex. This trend toward specialization is driving up the value of technical knowledge, making it more prized than writing skills. To handle the complexity, technical writers may find that they are playing increasingly collaborative roles with engineers to create the needed documentation. To drive up their value in organizations, technical writers should look for ways to collaborate more skillfully with engineers in creating content.


  •  The growing complexity in the technology landscape is ratcheting up the importance of technical knowledge in organizations, overshadowing writing skills.
  • Creating documentation is becoming more of a collaborative effort with engineers due to the increasing level of complexity and specialization in the technology landscape.
  • Documentation processes are moving towards docs-as-code tools in part because engineers are more involved in the authoring processes, and they prefer to use tools they’re familiar with.

Lunch Break

Lunch and “Speed Networking” in the Expo Hall
11:00 AM-1:00 PM

Behind-the-Scenes Networking: The Secret to Today's Job Search

Alyssa Fox
Foundation | Project Management, Leadership, and Career Development
1:00-1:45 PM

According to several sources, 70-80% of jobs are not posted, but are filled through networking. So why are we still spending all our time applying online instead of talking to employers? You’re a professional communicator—now’s the time to put those skills to use and highlight your personal brand.

Researching companies and the people who might be hiring at those companies is essential when conducting a job search today, and LinkedIn is the best tool to help you do that. See how the presenter used LinkedIn extensively in a recent job search and how it helped her build her network and garner multiple job offers and some great new contacts.


• The benefits of leveraging LinkedIn when job hunting.
• How to approach and communicate with potential employers.
• Tips and tricks for updating your LinkedIn profile to catch the eye of recruiters and hiring managers.

What Leaders in Industry and Academia Think About Technical Communication Training and Education

Rebekka Andersen and Carlos Evia
Foundation| Project Management, Leadership, and Career Development
1:00-1:45 PM

In this session, we highlight preliminary results of a multi-staged, multi-year research project that examines the skills students and early-career practitioners need to lead and innovate in the changing profession of technical communication. Strong technical writing skills are still important, but professionals in the 21st century rarely can build and sustain a career on them alone. We report on skills and competencies that in the contemporary workplace are as important as the more traditional skills in rhetorical analysis, writing, and design associated with the discipline.
We showcase data collected from two workshops and over 25 interviews (in progress) with industry leaders and university administrators and educators. Findings from this study point to needed changes for technical communication education at various levels, from degree-granting undergraduate programs to certificate programs to industry onboarding practices. We will address implications of these research results for students and early-career professionals, as well as for hiring managers, educators, and trainers.


  • Learn how the roles and hiring needs in the profession of technical communication are changing.
  • Gain insight from recognized industry and academia leaders on the skills and competencies that they consider necessary to lead and innovate in the profession.
  • Obtain ideas on how those working in industry might partner with academic programs to help bridge skills gaps.

International Standards for Information Development and Content Management

JoAnn Hackos
Expert | Content Design and Delivery
1:00-1:45 PM

Standards provide a substantive, internationally supported framework through which information can be managed, developed, reviewed, tested, maintained in a content-management system, and published in a variety of forms. Standards provide a means for information developers to ensure that they are managing and developing content effectively. Implementing standards in an organization helps to ensure that technology choices made today will not restrict future technology developments.

In this session, learn about the standards developed for information developers by the International Standards Organization (ISO). Understand exactly what a standard is, what types exist, why we need standards in information development, how standards are developed and adopted, and why standards are important in the development and dissemination of technical information.


Learn how standards are used in every field to direct work and define work products, including in the organizations you work for. Learn about the standards that apply to information development and how they are being developed. Learn how you can use international standards to ensure that you are managing and developing content effectively. And, decide if you would like to take part in standards development.

In-Product Support: Evolving from Manuals to Driving the Customer Experience

Sarah Bosak and Patty Viajar
Foundation | Content Design and Delivery
1:00-1:45 PM

Content creates opportunities to engage customers and enhance their experiences, which leads to customer loyalty and increased renewal rates. As content creators, what role do technical communicators have in the customer experience? Help documentation, whether it be instructions, videos, or on-screen tutorials, offers an opportunity to engage with customers and provide microlearning experiences that build partnerships with the customer. How can you build documentation into the customer experience? What tools can you use, and how do you convince your stakeholders that your documentation and resources play an integral role in the customer experience? (Spoiler alert: through data gathering and analysis). Join us as we discuss how we took our documentation from being an afterthought to an integral part of developing our customer experience.


  1. Implement tools and technology to support a content design strategy.
  2. Use data to inform your content design strategy.
  3. Transition from an order-taker who simply creates instruction manuals to a driver of the customer experience.

Documentation Strategy for Open Source Projects

Shavindri Dissanayake
Practitioner | Tools and Technologies
1:00-1:45 PM

Who cares about content? Everyone who touches an open source project! The community can’t contribute to a project they don’t understand. But writing documentation isn’t enough: you need a content strategy that defines how the content will be structured, written, tested, and updated along the way as contributions come in. If there is no proper process in place, you are going to be in one hot mess.


  • Importance of Documentation for Open Source Projects.
  • Content release cycle.
  • Engaging with the community.

Optimize Your Content Like An Engineer

Sara Feldman
Practitioner| Content Design and Delivery
1:00-1:45 PM

As a Technical Communicator, you are responsible for an increasingly dynamic content experience. You are expected to contribute value through cross-functional and interdisciplinary functions, such as content strategy and quantitative analysis. Your content must enable more than break-fix, but engage users at every stage of the customer journey. There’s a lot to do!

Fortunately, concepts such as data-driven design, velocity, minimal viable product (MVP), QA, and retrospectives can improve how you optimize your content.

Learn how to incorporate engineering principles and quantitative measures into continuous content optimization. Benefits include better cross-departmental collaboration and content ROI that proves the value of a mature content experience.


1. How to identify your leading and lagging indicators.
2. The RIGHT way to leverage vanity metrics.
3. Engineering principles to apply to content optimization.

Teaching Online: Tips, Tricks, and Techniques for Engaging Virtual Learners

Kevin Siegel
Practitioner | Training Development and Delivery
1:00-1:45 PM

Many organizations, in an attempt to save training money on travel, are requiring trainers to teach live, online classes via virtual classroom platforms like GoTo Training, WebEx, and Connect. Unfortunately, trainers are ill-equipped to take their “training act” online and the result is a failed training initiative.

The number-one failure of online trainers is the inability to engage their virtual students. The result? Students tune out and often times multi-task instead of fully participating in the training.

This session will teach and demonstrate proven engagement techniques that will improve the virtual experience for both the trainer and the student.


  • Learn about the hardware and software you’ll need to host virtual classes (and what it will cost you).
  • Learn about the top virtual training platforms including WebEx, Connect, and GoTo Training.
  • Learn some sure-fire techniques for getting virtual classes started on the right foot (make a great first impression).
  • Learn how to effectively communicate with virtual students.
  • Learn how to encourage—and even demand—participation

*Note: This is a hands-on, interactive session (no boring lecture here). A Registration URL will be provided well before the conference. During the session, attendees can enter the virtual classroom and experience online learner engagement first-hand while the concepts are discussed.

Markdown, HTML5, and XML in Technical Communication Workflows: Introducing Lightweight DITA

Carlos Evia
Foundation | Tools and Technologies
2:00-2:45 PM

This presentation showcases workflows for developing and publishing technical communication products with Lightweight DITA (LwDITA). LwDITA is a simplified version of the Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) standard. LwDITA allows authors to create content in XML, HTML5, and Markdown, and it enables production, collaboration, and publication across those markup languages.
The objective of this session is to introduce sample workflows for the diverse audiences that can benefit from using LwDITA. Those audiences include current DITA users, bloggers and marketing content specialists, software developers, subject matter experts, and casual contributors to content repositories. The sample workflows will provide use cases, tools, and recommendations to demystify the process of adopting LwDITA.


1. Learn about a new proposed standard for structuring and publishing technical communication content.
2. Explore opportunities for cross-format content creation in a combination of XML, HTML5, and Markdown.
3. See practical examples of workflows recommended for diverse types of authors using the proposed Lightweight DITA standard.

Be the Best You Can Be: Mentoring and Being Mentored

Carrie Sheaffer and Eva Miranda
Practitioner | Project Management, Leadership, and Career Development
2:00-2:45 PM

Even seasoned technical communicators can find the idea of mentoring a less experienced writer intimidating. And for the writer still learning the ropes, being mentored can pose its own challenges.

This session provides a conversational overview, from both mentor and mentee perspective, that identifies key components of a successful relationship. Expect techniques and tips for giving successful feedback on one hand, and making the most out of received feedback on the other.


  • How to give feedback that promotes growth.
  • How to ask for—and receive—advice to help you advance.
  • How to establish a strong mentor/mentee relationship.

The Future of Communicating with Digital Natives

Maddy Settle
Practitioner | Content Design and Delivery
2:00-2:45 PM

What will your audience expect in the future of communication? As technology continues to permeate our everyday lives, a new demographic is emerging: the digital native. These people have grown up with information & tools at their fingertips like never before. Drawing on my time as a User Experience designer for K-12 educational products, I will give examples and lessons learned from today’s youth, who will become your primary audience before you know it. How would they liked to be talked to? When would they like information? What format are they looking for? These are some of the questions I will attempt to shed some light on during my session.


1. What’s different about digital natives & their expectations.
2. Why today’s communication methods aren’t as effective with digital natives.
3. What methods you can use to satisfy the needs of this new demographic.

Facebook Polling as User Research Tool

Clinton Lanier
Practitioner | Tools and Technologies
2:00-2:45 PM

Facebook has the potential to provide new and effective methods for conducing user research. However, while the social media platform has become ubiquitous, there is little information existing that delivers practical information to those who want to use it for this purpose. This presentation gives attendees practical advice for using Facebook, and specifically Facebook polling, as a user research mechanism for technical communication products.


1. The tools to use for conducting polls and surveys in Facebook.
2. Understanding Facebook’s custom (or focused) audiences.
3. The process of conducing polls and surveys via Facebook.

Plugging the Brain Drain: Using Knowledge Management to Capture and Share Information

M. Allie Proff
Practitioner | Project Management, Leadership, and Career Development
2:00-2:45 PM

In addition to the regular rhythm of employees hiring and leaving, the baby boomers are 55 to 70 years old and retiring out of the work force. Does the age of people in your organization look like a two-humped camel: lots of new hires and lots of people about to retire but very few in the middle?

Does your company have a plan in place to capture the knowledge of your valuable employees before they leave or retire?

In this session, Allie will discuss what she’s learned in two years in a knowledge management organization of a Fortune 50 company to give you actionable ideas you can take back to your organization.


  • Various ways of capturing knowledge (communities, lessons learned, mentoring, procedures).
  • Ideas for implementing top-down (executive approval) and bottom-up (employee-powered) approaches.
  • Resources to implement your own knowledge management system, however small or large.

xAPI: Geek Free Introduction for Instructional Designers

Megan Torrance
Practitioner | Training Development and Delivery
2:00-2:45 PM

As adoption of xAPI begins to take hold, it allows for more robust and interesting tracking of the learning process. As actual performance and results data are integrated with learning metrics, we will have the data we need to tailor the learning process to individual needs at the same time that we can draw more useful conclusions about the learning as a whole across a wider population.
After a brief introduction to xAPI and what’s new about it from the instructional design side, we’ll discuss three key areas that impact instructional design:
– Identifying learning data needs, data sources and meaningful visualizations that answer organizational and L&D questions about engagement and impact
– Making choices about infrastructure: how and when to work with your LMS, your LRS or both
– Models for taking advantage of xAPI across a variety of learning vectors: formal & informal, social & private, formative & summative, predictable & variable
This session includes a readiness assessment checklist and other job aid to support your implementation.


  • Identify ways to use better data to improve instructional design and engagement, as well as measure on-the-job results.
  • Select from leading ecosystem infrastructure models and vendors available.
  • Choose a first project that leverage xAPI’s capabilities beyond what’s available in SCORM today.

This session includes handouts and job aids. My slide deck will be shared with participants as well.

Sort It Out: Improving Search with Taxonomies and Metadata

Dawn Stevens
Foundation | Content Design and Delivery
2:00-2:45 PM

The number one user complaint about anyone’s technical information these days is their inability to find what they are looking for. It is essential to understand what users are looking for and to ensure your content is tagged appropriately to support their search strategies. In this session, Dawn Stevens provides the foundation for creating a taxonomy and metadata strategy within your organization.

Refreshment Break

Refreshment Break
2:45 – 4:00 PM | Expo Hall

Enjoy an extended refreshment break before the last set of sessions on Monday afternoon.

Living in Volatile Contexts

Ray Gallon
Foundation | Content Design and Delivery
4:00-4:45 PM

The advent of Big Data coupled with rapid advances in artificial intelligence technology means that inevitably, technical information delivery will depend on increasingly sensitive, fine grained context sensing, delivered automatically to users based on instant profiles created from their immediate situation – place, time of day, of course, but also emotional state, and ephemeral environmental factors. This is not just “context-sensitive,” but situation-specific information, delivered on the spot, assembled in real time, based on parameters that can change in as little as a few minutes. This is defined as a volatile context.

In this talk we’ll look at a volatile situation from the user’s perspective, to see how information needs evolve, and dive deeper into questions of how we validate such volatile information, how the validation cycle needs to be different from that of persistent information where safety, health, or life itself may be at stake.

Takeaways – participants will learn to:

  • Analyze what kind of information people really might need in volatile contexts.
  • Examine how volatile information might be used, reused, or repurposed.
  • Rethink validation cycles to accommodate volatile contexts.

Analytics Can Change Your World

David Payne
Practitioner | Tools and Technologies
4:00-4:45 PM

With an ever-present need to prove value to the organization, I found myself struggling to get the data I needed to put together an argument based on fact, rather than anecdotes. In this session, I’ll take the anecdote of my situation and show how analytics enabled my team to pull forward, get executive buy-in, enable process change and succeed. Over the course of the session, I’ll delve into some of the questions you might be asked and propose where you’ll find some answers.
> What are some of the metrics you might want to find?
> What are your baselines?
> What happens if the data doesn’t tell you what you expected?

What your users are telling you about how they access your content can tell you volumes about roads to improve all aspects of user assistance.

  • Attendees will walk away with the following:
  • Questions to ask about the data they can gather about their help system or printed docs.
  • Answers to the organization about what to do with that data.
  • Ideas on where to ask new questions about the data.
  • Ideas on tools and focus areas to work with their data.

How Many Languages? Help!

Karen Tkaczyk
Practitioner | Content Design and Delivery
4:00-4:45 PM

Technical writers rarely write with translation in mind. Yet, in today’s global business environment, translation is often inevitable. Documentation departments are often directed to “Get this translated!” This usually happens far too late in the production process.
Using her expert knowledge of translation and the technical work environment, Karen will give insights into what works, what doesn’t, and what to do when you’re out of your depth. Beginning at the document level, she’ll look at how to make translation faster and more reliable, and as a result, produce higher quality and with fewer unnecessary expenses. Karen will then move on to the translation process and talk about the technologies, tools, and people your company needs to get translation and localization right the first time.


  • How to Write in a way that makes translation more efficient, more reliable, and less expensive.
  • How to choose the right translation team.
  • How to design processes that work well for Writing and for translation.

Creating a Content Strategy for a Not-For-Profit Client

Tharon Howard
Foundation | Content Design and Delivery
4:00-4:45 PM

This presentation will describe the development of a content strategy plan for a breast cancer support/survivor group known as Bosom Buddies. The presentation will follow 6 steps in developing the content strategy for Bosom Buddies. First, how to set goals for the plan with the client’s leadership. Second, how to conduct a persona research study (using Redish’s approach) and how to build a UX journey map (using Kalbach’s approach). Third, how to conduct a content audit (using Halverson’s approach). Fourth, how to use data collected to brainstorm and determine which types of content to develop (e.g. websites, Facebook, Slack, Twitter, blogs, YouTube channels, etc.). Fifth, how to recommend a content management system which a not-for-profit volunteer organization like Bosom Buddies can use. And finally, we will demo the branding logos, wordmarks, look and feel guidelines, templates, sample content, and a content management plan for the organization.


Attendees at this session will be introduced to best practices in content strategy development for not-for-profits, including how “to educate clients” so that they create productive collaborative relationships necessary for success in workplace environments. Attendees will also learn six steps which will enable them to develop a full-blown content strategy development process that works from the birth to deployment of the strategy.

Pivot Your Passion into Profit

Jamie Gillenwater
Practitioner | Project Management, Leadership, and Career Development
4:00-4:45 PM

As the gig economy picks up, startups fail, and Social Security is at risk, have you wondered how you can increase your financial security without leaving your current employer? In this session, you will learn ways to supplement your income by using your passions and without leaving your house.

As a technical communicator, you already have many of the required skills to develop passive income streams. With audience analysis experience, solid communication skills, and some basic media knowledge, you can create online courses, write books, or build a profitable blog.

During this session, we will talk about mapping your your passions to your professional expertise and assessing which residual income stream is best for you. We will also discuss considerations you need to make when planning and promoting your new income stream.


• Discover how you can create residual income streams to supplement full-time income.
• Identify your passions and expertise, both personal and professional.
• Using your technical communication skills, create a plan to create a residual income stream.

Automated Release Notes

Michael Winslow
Foundation | Tools and Technologies
4:00-4:45 PM

As a team practicing DevOps for Xfinity Mobile, we are always looking for opportunities to increase the velocity in which we move software through the deployment pipeline. This becomes increasingly important as we begin to discover production issues which are impacting our customers and require immediate attention.

A common side-effect of increasing speed is a reduction in quality. We MUST avoid this as much as possible. Through automating processes which are good candidates for automation, we can actually increase both speed and quality at the same time.

We identified Software Release Notes as a highly repeatable process that was a good candidate for automation. Since we automated the process, not only did we save hundreds of hours worth of manual work, but we also have increased the accuracy of our releases.


If we are going to develop software faster, we cannot ignore quality gates (QA, Change Management, Security) because they are too inconvenient.

Marketing Your Technical Communication Services Internally or Externally

Saul Carliner
Practitioner| Project Management, Leadership, and Career Development
4:00-4:45 PM

Whether working internally or externally, technical communicators work as service providers. By actively promoting—marketing—our work, we promote strong relationships with our internal and external clients, satisfaction with our work, and build interest in the full range of services that we provide. This session provides an introduction to marketing technical communication processes in services, including reasons for marketing, the effective use of online and social media to make people aware of our services, and the use of well-timed messages to build and maintain relationships with internal and external stakeholders.


• Describe the percentage of resources that you should devote to marketing (including differences for internal and external technical communicators).
• Identify the most crucial services to promote.
• Identify online, social media, and face-to-face for effectively promoting technical communication services.

Annual Business Meeting

Annual Business Meeting
5:00 – 6:00 PM | Centennial Ballroom

STC’s Annual Business Meeting will be held on Monday, 6 May, at 5:00 PM. Plan to attend to congratulate STC’s 2019-2020 Board of Directors and incoming STC President Ben Woelk.

Tuesday, 7 May

Registration Open

Registration Open
7:30 AM-4:30 PM | Outside Expo Hall

Continental Breakfast

Continental Breakfast
7:00 – 8:00 AM | Expo Hall

Expo Hall Open

Expo Hall Open
8:00 AM-4:00 PM | Centennial Ballroom

Meet the 2019 exhibitors and sponsors

UX Writing: Users First, Better Products

Yvonne Gando
Foundation | Content Design and Delivery
8:00-8:45 AM

Storytelling, content strategy, writing-focused design. These labels have been used to help define UX writing. But what, exactly, is it? And why should you care?

Find out how words can make or break your product experience. Through case studies on Google products, learn about the UX writing principles that guide effective design decisions across a wide range of product areas, including artificial intelligence/machine learning, conversation design, social media, messaging, and virtual/augmented reality.


1. What is UX writing?
2. Qualitative and quantitative methods to boost user engagement
3. How to develop & codify best practices for language-driven product experiences

Accessibility and Privacy: Techniques for Designing and Editing Documents

Danielle Matthews and Erin Wiedemer
Foundation | Content Design and Delivery
8:00-8:45 AM

Now that most people access technical documentation electronically, creating documents that everyone can use and understand is vital to the success of your projects. The U.S. Federal Government has several standards for ensuring that documentation, software, and websites are fully accessible, regardless of an individual’s disability. Section 508 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are two standards that can be easily met by technical writers with a few extra steps that will ensure maximum usability of manuals and documentation.

Another federal standard, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), protects the use of individual’s personally identifiable information (PII). Through this session learn how to apply a set of standardized, sample user data which adds detail to documentation without the risk of releasing PII. Documentation that is accessible and protects privacy serves and protects your audience and promotes the success of the product or project being documented. Join our session and learn how to take your documentation to the next level by improving accessibility and privacy.


1. Understand Section 508/ADA and HIPAA standards and the importance of accessibility and privacy in documentation.
2. Apply standards to write accessible documentation and test existing documentation.
3. Understand basic National Training & Education Office (NTEO) standard sample data and apply it to protect demographic information privacy in technical documentation.

License to Write: Techniques for Tech Comm Success

Ann Marie Queeney
Foundation | Content Design and Delivery
8:00-8:45 AM

The exciting exploits of James Bond may seem far removed from the field of technical communication. However, Ian Fleming (Bond’s creator) was a disciplined writer whose commitment to clear, sharp writing and accuracy shares many similarities with our field.

The presenter draws upon her technical communication experience and a book titled, “The Man with the Golden Typewriter (James Bond’s Letters)” to discuss how Ian Fleming’s approach to his work can strengthen your writing and editing skills, transform SMEs from information suppliers to valuable collaborators, and maximize your efficiency in meeting project goals.

During the session there will also be time for a glimpse of Flemings’ remarkable life, several Bond fun facts, and the story behind his golden typewriter.

The session will cover techniques for:

  • Strengthening your technical writing and editing skills.
  • Transforming SMEs from information suppliers to valuable collaborators.
  • Achieving your project goals in a timely and efficient manner.

The Human Touch: Bringing Instructor Presence into eLearning Environments

Julia Cho
Foundation | Training Development and Delivery
8:00-8:45 AM

Online learning continues to steadily grow in popularity each year. But, bringing a course online and having students be successful learners in the class has its challenges. Establishing instructor presence in an online course has been shown to improve learning outcomes and retention rates. This session will present techniques for building instructor presence to humanize the online learning environment, leading to a deep, meaningful learning experience for participants.


In this session, learn how to:
• Use text and media to build instructor presence.
• Promote a safe, inclusive environment for student interaction.
• Choose tools that will enhance learning, not distract or frustrate.

Building A Tech Comm Team

Jessica Kreger
Practitioner | Project Management, Leadership, and Career Development
8:00-8:45 AM

As technical communicators, when it’s time to grow our teams, we’d really love to have a website or manual to guide us. But unless we’ve had human resources training, doing our own recruiting, hiring, onboarding, and employee training — and learning how to balance it all with our own work — aren’t topics that are usually covered in our education. In this presentation, Jessica Kreger, Senior Manager of Client Training and Education at TradeStation, an award-winning online brokerage firm, will show you step-by-step how to build a technical communication team from the ground up. Discover best practices for defining your team’s scope, managing performance, motivating employees, and promoting your new group.


Participants will leave the presentation equipped with:

  • A checklist of the steps they need to recruit, hire, and onboard new employees,
  • proven processes for managing and marketing a new team, and
  •  several expert references for more information from industry leaders.

Tone Up Your Content: Finding the Voice That Builds Customer Loyalty

Dave Nealon
Practitioner | Content Design and Delivery
8:00-8:45 AM

Technical writers know how to translate an expert’s insider view for a novice outsider. They distill complex processes into discrete steps. They make sure our messages are clear so our products are usable. But they can also win the trust and loyalty of prospects and customers by achieving just the right tone in all our communications—user interface and user assistance, marketing, and training materials.

In this session we’ll discuss tone that engages our users rather than making them feel disconnected. We’ll explore how to use tone to build customer confidence and loyalty. We’ll discover how to fine-tune it to our audiences, using the right combination of clarity, brevity, warmth, and empathy. Finally, we’ll work through how to achieve a consistent tone across departments.


• The right tone not only helps customers feel better; it helps them understand your messages and learn what you need them to know.
• Clarity, brevity, warmth, and empathy are key ingredients, but every organization needs them in different proportions.
• The process of working out a consistent tone helps your organization build unity among departments and cohesiveness across a wide array of content.

Context, Content, and Care: Usability and Design in Health and Medical Contexts

Kirk St.Amant
Foundation | Content Design and Delivery
8:00-8:45 AM

Effective health and medical communication involves addressing the settings where a range of individuals access and use materials. The dynamics of these contexts can vary from setting to setting and affect what constitutes a usable design in health and medical contexts. For technical communicators working in health and medical settings, these factors greatly affect the perceived and the actual usability of materials in environments where individuals administer or receive care. This presentation overviews a method that can guide user research and design development in this area to create materials that meet the usability expectations different audiences associate with a particular health or medical context. In examining these issues, the presenter will explain how this approach can serve as a mechanism for testing existing designs of materials as well as planning the development of new products for different health and medical contexts.


Attendees will learn:

  • How to identify factors affecting usability expectations in different health and medical settings
  • How to identify the usability and design expectations for materials used in health or medical settings
  • How to collect effective data on usable designs in different health and medical contexts
  • How to apply such data to create more usable designs for health and medical contexts

Why Technical Communicators Should Be More than Writers

Alan Porter
Foundation | Content Design and Delivery
8:00-8:45 AM

Our job, at its core, is a simple one: We take the technically complex and make it simple, and then communicate that knowledge to the people who need it.

The way that those in need want to access and consume that knowledge is changing, and we need to change with it. Some text accompanied by a an occasional illustration, photo, or screenshot, is no longer sufficient.

The way that our customers are interacting with our content is rapidly changing. Customers now expect to not just consume, but interact with all types of content in all types of ways. From Social Media likes, to commenting on videos, to online chatbots, to voice command interfaces like Siri and Alexa.

It’s no longer enough for companies to think of themselves as publishers, or for us to think of ourselves as “writers.” We need to be Communicators.

In this session we’ll look at:
(1) The changing content landscape and what that means to us as communicators.
(2) Different techniques that can be used to communicate technical information.
(3) Resources and examples to help us change the way we communicate.

UX and Tech Comm: Aligning for Success

Julie Dwyer
Foundation/Practitioner | Content Design and Delivery
9:00-9:45 AM

There are many reasons why technical writing is closely aligned with user experience (UX). As technical communicators, we know that plain language, voice and tone, and consistency all contribute to a successful customer experience. However, many times, the user interface and on-screen text are written by developers in an Agile environment where the content and language are not a high priority.

Are you already working with your UX team, or are you wondering how to get involved? We will share our experiences of how Tech Comm can drive standardization across UX, engineering, marketing, and branding. We will discuss the challenges you might find in implementation and the best practices you can use to communicate, manage your projects, and deliver the results.


  • Where Tech Comm and UX align.
  • Cross-functional communication.
  • Tips for Writing on-screen text.

Tech Comm 2.0: Inventing, Selling, and Implementing a Better Way to Work

Bobbi Werner
Practitioner| Tools and Technologies
9:00-9:45 AM

Even in the most technologically sophisticated companies, it’s not uncommon for Tech Comm teams to lag far behind their engineering and marketing colleagues in the tools they use at work. This was the case at Welch Allyn, one of the top medical device companies in the world, where Tech Comm tools were not upgraded for over a decade, and user documentation stagnated. Recognizing customer demand for more intelligent digital content, this writer, in collaboration with a senior manager, launched the Tech Comm 2.0 initiative. The primary goal of Tech Comm 2.0 was to secure state-of-the-art tools to support delivery of single-sourced, responsive, customizable, searchable, and interactive user content. This presentation will address key strategies of this initiative, the many factors that led to its approval and successful implementation, and lessons learned, many of which generalize to other contexts.


1) Do your due diligence. Take time to research extensively so that you can present preferred and alternative options, and document the relative merits of each.
2) Emphasize anticipated efficiencies and impact on headcount (not having to hire) to enhance persuasiveness with executives.
3) Collaborate with key players in other departments to turn them into champions for your cause.

Disrupting PR: How Technical Writers Can Augment Public Relations

Melissa Schuck
Practitioner | Project Management, Leadership, and Career Development
9:00-9:45 AM

The communications landscape is rapidly changing and the lines between communications specialties are blurring. The field of public relations, in particular, is experiencing a huge shift both in form and function. As this occurs, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that technical communicators have the skills and abilities to cross over into this specialty in a way that adds a significant amount of value to organizations. This session will discuss the changing needs of today’s public relations professional, and where and how technical communicators can provide the most value to public relations organizations and projects. It’s time to look to public relations and see how we can use our skillsets to enhance the ability of organizations to build relationships with their publics.


1. As the public relations changes, organizations can improve communications activities by including technical writers on communications teams.
2. While public relations practitioners have audience analysis experience, technical writers bring a unique outlook on how audiences interact with language.
3. Technical writers can provide public relations projects with a more holistic perspective on how to shape composition and organization for greater impact on public relations audiences.

Architecting Your Team's Career Path

Megan Jensen and Brian Fish
Practitioner | Content Design and Delivery
9:00-9:45 AM

Learn how one organization revamped its technical writer role to better align with the changing workforce that is being driven by Millennials. With more than 65 technical writers on staff (50 percent with whom have been in the workforce for less than five years), Cerner has evolved its technical writer role from a position that had limited career growth to one in which an associate now can pursue multiple career opportunities in technical communication: from that of a technical writer, documentation architect, and documentation quality analyst. This presentation will provide you with guidance for developing your business case for expanding the technical writer role into a career with longevity at your company, as well as tips for gaining buy-in from both leadership and team members alike as they experience the shift in professional growth opportunities.


The session will help you understand how to:
• Identify technical communication roles that best suit the needs of your organization and align with your associates’ career paths
• Define a business case for your leadership to request these new roles
• Implement role changes and a new career path with buy-in from your team members and leadership

eLearning: Creating Virtual Reality Projects with Adobe Captivate

Kevin Siegel
Practitioner | Tools and Technologies
9:00-9:45 AM

It used to be that creating virtual reality projects required specialized (and expensive) hardware and software. Not anymore. Adobe Captivate 2019 allows you to easily create immersize virtual reality project out of the box.


  • Create a virtual reality project from scratch
  • Add 360 photos
  • Add interactive hotspots to a virtual reality project
  • Add a quiz to a virtual reality project

Introducing a New UX Approach for Health Communication: Plus-Minus-Check

Lisa Meloncon
Practitioner | Content Design and Delivery
9:00-9:45 AM

90 million Americans lack health literacy skills to productively participate and engage in their own health care. And as we well know, technical communicators are adept at producing and designing information that can be understood by specific, targeted audiences. With this growing need for health communication specialist, technical communicators can leverage our knowledge of user experience, usability methods, and our attention to purpose and audience to patient education materials. In this presentation, I introduce a new method of usability testing that is based on research and tested within health communication settings to ensure that health information can meet the needs of their intended audience.


Gain an understanding of current usability method.
Learn a new usability method specific to health and medical information.
Understand How this method achieves an understanding of attention and comprehension.

#PowerOfStory - The Cultural Program That Got Me Clicks

Viqui Dill
Foundation | Program Management, Leadership, and Career Development
9:00-9:45 AM

My current job is to do internal communications within my company for IT. It’s my job to help four thousand employees make friends with our programs, especially the much avoided Microsoft Office 365 suite of products. This presentation will explain how I was able to leverage our corporate #PowerOfStory program to engage employees online and help them get over the fear of change to be able to use the tools for content management and communication.


• Personal stories are powerful. Use them whenever you can.
• Engaging content will help users get over their fear of change.
• When you want to encourage adoption of a tool, make sure users find something meaningful on their first experience. A free lunch and an engaging story will give your users a reason to come back.

A Tale of Two Podcasts: From Concept to Reality

Allie Proff and Ben Woelk
Foundation | Content Design and Delivery
10:00-11:00 AM

More Americans know what podcasting is than who the vice president is, and 12 million Americans listened to their first podcast last year. Of people who are podcast listeners, 80% listen to all or most of each episode, and listen to an average of 7 episodes each week.

Given that sort of engagement, it’s no wonder that businesses are starting to seriously explore podcasting as a new method to reach customers and other businesses.

Whether you engage in content marketing, capture general knowledge via audio, or are personally interested in podcasting, this session is for you. Attend the session to discover how Allie and Ben took their podcasts from concept to reality, and how you can do the same!


  • Why do a podcast?
  • How podcasts work and how to get started
  • Best practices for creating quality podcast content

Topic-Based Authoring for Training

Sandra Wheeler
Practitioner| Training Development and Delivery
10:00-11:00 AM

Traditionally, a textbook is a static document, updated rarely. But if you’re writing training material in a quick-revision environment, like product development, or juggling multiple audiences or product versions, the traditional approach might not get it done. A better approach? Topic-based authoring. Topic-based authoring tools allow authors to create and draw from a library of complete topics, select which topics are appropriate for each document and audience, and reuse identical topics across multiple documents. Content can be easily shared between related training documents, and also between other training materials and user documents. Topic-based authoring tools also offer advanced functionality that allow authors to create learning tools that are part of any training material: an answer key from course activities and quizzes, instructor notes, and activity callouts in the margins.

This presentation demonstrates these techniques with MadCap Flare, but these techniques can also be applied to other authoring tools, including FrameMaker.


Attendees will learn how topic-based authoring can be utilized to:

  1. share content across training documents, either standalone or in conjunction with related product or user documentation,
  2. organize content into various documents for on-demand publication, and
  3. create training-specific document features, like auto-populating answer keys and margin notes.

Innovations in Tech Comm Curricula for College Programs

Russel Hirst, Craig Baehr, and Beth Agnew
Foundation | Content Design and Delivery
10:00-11:00 AM

This is a panel presentation by three academic scholar-teachers who are active in STC. Each panelist will speak 12 minutes about curricular innovations in technical communication at their respective institutions: Texas Tech University (Baehr), Seneca College (Agnew), and University of Tennessee, Knoxville (Hirst). Collective Q&A will follow the three presentations.

Baehr will speak about integrating professional certification into university courses. In such courses, students at Texas Tech University have learned about the professional value of certification, how their studies align with the core competencies, and how professional development activities and continuing education help in career planning as they enter the profession as practitioners and academic researchers. Baehr’s presentation will describe how technical communication courses and programmatic objectives can be aligned with professional certification, and he will share best practices and lessons learned.

Agnew will speak about how she integrates media— video, audio, social media, and augmented reality—into TC education at Seneca College, Canada. Higher education is increasingly moving to digital learning strategies—such as BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and online or hybrid course delivery. How-to videos on YouTube number in the millions. Podcasts or audio information is rapidly catching up. Smart phones are now a major platform for delivering information. Media tools are easy to come by. The challenge for educators is integrating a wealth of media-creation principles into the curriculum—without taking focus off the foundational principles of good communication.

Hirst will speak about how he has expanded his department’s TC curriculum in the categories of experiential learning (EL) and intercultural learning (IL), which are major areas of educational innovation being promoted at UT Knoxville. His presentation will show how TC in his department (English) has prospered in recent years by using the EL/IL vehicles to expand faculty development; to create new, EL-infused courses in global communication; and to professionalize students by involving them as editors/consultants/managers/promoters for the International Journal of Nuclear Security.


1. How technical communication courses and college-level programmatic objectives can be aligned with professional certification in TC.
2. How to employ strategies for integrating media-creation technologies and principles into college curricula.
3. How to use the current collegial focus on experiential and intercultural learning as springboards for developing new TC curricula and strengthening TC programs in multiple ways.

Your Career Portfolio: Planning for Future Growth

Victoria Koster-Lenhardt
Practitioner | Program Management, Leadership, and Career Development
10:00-11:00 AM

Good financial planning requires taking time, often annually, to review your portfolio and investment strategy to make sure your investments continue to grow. You can use the same concept for managing your career. Consider these four phases: identify your goals, monitor your progress, adjust as needed, and acknowledge failures and learn from them. Sounds simple, but it takes time and courage. Are you ready to look at your career this way and plan for your future? Don’t let your assets sit in a low-interest job. Instead, invest them in high-growth opportunities that will enable you to enjoy life and reap the benefits.


In this session you will review your current short- and long-term career goals, assess your skills and determine what’s working and what needs improvement, leaving with personal career objectives for the coming year.

Visual Media: Crossing Paths with Technical Publications

Keith Kamikawa
Practitioner | Training Development and Delivery
10:00-11:00 AM

From hand-drawn illustration to virtual and augmented reality, learn how visual media plays a key role in how we learn, and how it enhances the world of technical publications. (The presentation is very visually focused with industry examples in video form.)


• The process of CAD conversion for Animation and Real-Time applications.
• The software recommended for the creation of VR/AR applications.
• Animation or video? The best choice to enhance your technical publications.
• Do-it-yourself tips for recording a successful training video.

Maintaining a Healthy DITA Project

Radu Coravu
Practitioner | Tools and Technologies
10:00-11:00 AM

There are lots of aspects necessary to have a happy and healthy DITA project. Project structure, version control, work-flow, custom validation rules, an internal style guide, tools to perform batch modifications, automation of the publishing processes, automation of the project-wide validation checks, ways to quickly ask and receive feedback from engineers, ways to requests and receive feedback from end users. When implemented all these aspects lead to more consistent outputs, reduce the technical writers’ stress and lets them focus on the task at hand. We will go through each of these aspects, I will show you examples of how we collaborate on our DITA based user’s manual and maybe together we’ll find some best practices leading to a successful DITA project.


You will learn various ways in which you can automate publishing and validation tasks, you will see examples of custom structure consistency checks and maybe enrich and enlarge your own internal style guide rules. We’ll discuss various work-flows and ways of obtaining feedback from engineers or from end users. And we’ll discuss about how we can increase the technical writer’s voice and importance in the company.

Introduction to API Documentation

Tom Johnson
Practitioner | Tools and Technologies
10:00-11:00 AM

Technical writers who can document application programming interfaces (APIs) are in high demand. Documentation is a critical for an API to be successful in the marketplace. This presentation is for writers who want to learn more about APIs, or want to break into the field of API documentation.

This talk provides an introduction to REST API documentation. You will learn what a REST API is, and the components of an API. You will learn some of the basics of what API writers need to know, including the 8 essential sections in REST API endpoint reference documentation, and how to test and analyze API requests and responses.

Lunch Break

Lunch on your own
11:00 AM-1:00 PM

Technology for Good: Helping Orgs Do (More) Good with Technology

Robert Perry
Foundation | Content Design and Development
1:00-1:45 PM

Technology is one of the most powerful equalizers of our time, providing access to data, knowledge, and connections. As we embrace the Fourth Industrial Revolution, there is a constant struggle with using technology for the greater good. Now more than ever, people are striving to lead their lives with purpose, and the workforce is looking for institutions that promote the values and ideals that are important to them. Society is increasingly looking to companies to play a part in creating real and measurable impact. In this session, I will discuss Industry 4.0, the implications for our industry, and relate how my company,, has created solutions to get technology in the hands of nonprofits, educators, and philanthropic organizations so they can connect with others and do more good. I will also discuss how is incorporating Compassionate Technical Writing into our content and how writers can not only show users how to use technology, but also reflect empathy and awareness of the difficulties they might encounter. Technology is constantly changing and can be challenging at times. Technical writers can help bridge the gap and bring about a better understanding of not only the technology but how to use that technology to make a positive difference in the world.


  • Use technology responsibly and for social change.
  • Adapt and embrace Industry 4.0 in your career and writing.
  • Create content that people can learn from and relate to.

Engineering Better Training Experiences through Innovative Presentation Techniques and Technologies

Chuck Campbell
Practitioner | Training Development and Delivery
1:00-1:45 PM

Many of you have presented at meetings and conferences. When you present, you typically have slides of some sort to present to the audience. Although some of your slides may contain simple animations or videos, most are probably static slides with text and graphics and are typically not interactive. But, what if you could create an interactive presentation and turn any white board, screen, or even a blank wall into a smart board to engage the audience?

In this session, you will learn how to create interactive presentations using advanced presentation software features, and use relatively inexpensive technologies to transform your static slides into interactive presentations.


1. Create more engaging, non-linear presentations using branching, which can be used to adapt to the audience.
2. Make presentations more interactive using advanced software features.
3. Learn low-cost methods to turn almost any presentation screen, or surface, into an interactive smart board.

Wanna Cyber? Breaking into and Succeeding in Cybersecurity as a Technical Communicator

Jessica Behles
Foundation | Project Management, Leadership, and Career Development
1:00-1:45 PM

With new high-impact data breaches being announced practically every month, cybersecurity (CS) is a thriving, quickly evolving field that is rapidly growing in importance. Cybersecurity threats are ever becoming more pervasive and difficult to prevent. Many of the field’s problems—ranging from the need for understandable, on-time documentation for increasingly complex security products to training users to exercise good security hygiene—are inherently communication-based. Technical communicators are a natural fit to face these challenges with their blend of communications skills and technical expertise.

Drawing from my research on CS job advertisement descriptions and interviews with technical communicators currently in CS, this session will teach you what it takes to break into and thrive in cybersecurity, a field currently experiencing a talent shortage. You will learn the skills, education, and other requirements that recruiters look for, as well as those attributes that will help you succeed in the field once you break in. You will also find out what CS technical communicators do in these positions.


  • Learn about the skills, experience, and certifications you need to break into cybersecurity as a technical communicator.
  • Understand What it takes to succeed once in a cybersecurity job.
  • Discover the Types of Projects and deliverables being worked on by technical Communicators already in cybersecurity.

Introduction to S1000D: Authoring to Support the Civil Aviation and Defense Industries

Andre´ Evans
Foundation | Tools and Technologies
1:00-1:45 PM

Companies are always interested in reusing information to make documentation more affordable. The following presentation introduces you to S1000D — an international specification that uses .XML to author, manage, and deliver content for the defense industry in support of the Digital Twin.


• The S1000D specification was developed by the Aerospace and Defense Industries Association of Europe and is a cutting-edge framework to author publications for civil aviation, European defense, and U.S. military applications.
• S1000D harmonizes a variety of military specifications to create an international neutral standard for defense applications.
• S1000D .XML data elements are used with other Logistics Product Data using a suite of S-Series specifications in support of the Digital Twin.

You Got Your Content in My Strategy! Lessons Learned from Implementing a Global Strategy Across Marketing and Tech Comm

Geoff Webb and Alyssa Fox
Practitioner | Content Design and Delivery
1:00-1:45 PM

In this session, Geoff Webb and Alyssa Fox will take the audience through the two-year pilot and initial implementation of a global content strategy across marketing and technical communication in a $4B public company. This project drove a top-down strategy for content creation and content operations and formed a key element for the re-architecting of the global marketing strategy.

The presenters will discuss the creation of the business case, the process of gaining executive support, and the lessons learned from the pilot project.


• Who to involve in your content strategy project and when.
• What pitfalls to avoid and when they will occur.
• How to demonstrate actual ROI for the content strategy.

Technical Writers for Good: Humanizing Proposal Writing through Nonprofit Grants

Elisabeth Kramer-Simpson
Practitioner | Content Design and Delivery
2:00-2:45 PM

Proposal writing for large corporations can be often focused on the quantitative data support and company reputation at the cost of the more humanizing factors of the grant and its long-term impacts on the community. I challenge practitioners to try nonprofit foundation grant writing as a way to polish their skills in identifying the human impact in the proposals they write. I use text samples from 14 successful foundation grants to highlight rhetorical strategies that encourage community buy-in and long-term benefits of projects. I also include information on persuasive elements of these proposals from interviews with funders. Nonprofits are uniquely suited to bring out issues of community and narrate stories of lives changed. In the process of writing for nonprofits, proposal writers will be helping their communities and themselves.


One takeaway from this presentation is that nonprofit proposal writing can foreground the human impact factor in writing proposals. The second takeaway is that nonprofit foundation grant writing can polish the community buy-in that lends credibility to proposal writing. A third takeaway is that nonprofit foundation grants help focus writing on long-term effects of grant monies leading to better future forecasting for proposal writers.

Let’s Tackle Open Source Docs

Sarah Maddox
Practitioner | Tools and Technologies
2:00-2:45 PM

Open source is great. Some of the world’s most-used software is open source: the Linux operating system, Firefox web browser, LibreOffice, Apache web server, to name but a few well-known brands. Large companies like Microsoft, Google, Red Hat, and IBM contribute to, as well as use, open source code.

Open source ideology is great too. People share code in public repositories, collaborate on making the code better, invite others to join their communities… and, all too often, expect those newcomers to understand the product, the code, and the community’s values with very little good documentation.

Why the dearth of good docs? Because writing documentation is hard. But wait… there are people who know how to do docs well!


  • How our skills as technical writers are essential to the world of open source.
  • How a technical writer can get started with contributing to open source projects.

Just-In-Time (JIT) Training

Aaron Murray
Practitioner | Training Development and Delivery
2:00-2:45 PM

Just-in-Time (JIT) is a manufacturing methodology aimed primarily at reducing times within production system as well as response times from suppliers and to customers. These same principles of driving efficiency and reducing response times can be applied to training.

Why not change the mindset of how digital training is delivered so you can provide the right content to the learner, when they need it, just in time. A mobile-first strategy in training delivery allows for online, self-paced training. But digital training extends beyond just making content available online. In this session, we will uncover the instructional design, adult learning theory, and SAAS, subscription-based mentality for developing and delivering Just-In-Time training.


1. Changing the mindset of what digital training really means.
2. Why On-the-Job training is still the best approach.
3. Build training with the understanding, it’s not about what you want them to learn, it’s about what they need to learn.

Turn on a Power Tool to Create Highly Functioning Remote Teams

Pam Estes Brewer
Foundation | Project Management, Leadership, and Career Development
2:00-2:45 PM

It is common for today’s organizations to rely heavily on the work that takes place in remote teams. However, most organizations don’t prepare these teams to produce to their potential. In fact, most organizations don’t know how to prepare these teams to realize their potential. In this tutorial session, Dr. Pam Estes Brewer instructs you in using one of the power tools that supports highly functioning remote teams. She will take you through the why’s and the how’s of using this tool so that you can increase productivity in your remote teams and give team members an increased sense of control and satisfaction—whether those team members reside in Denver or Beijing. Join her as she provides you with a valuable teaming tool and gives you the opportunity to practice using it during the session.


• Metacommunication is a power tool for teaming if you know how and when to use it.
• Creating team buy-in for communication expectations and mediations decreases miscommunication and increases productivity.
• Effective metacommunication establishes a map for your teams’ communication so that people know where they are going and can focus on the goals instead of communication problems.
• An effective communication plan helps teams to preempt problems before time must be spent unraveling them.

Documented Disconnect: Gender Bias in Onboarding Technical Documents

William Hart
Practitioner | Training Development and Delivery
2:00-2:45 PM

There is a growing interest in male-dominated industries and the challenges women face finding their place within the workplace community. Yet, there seems to be little research on how training documents, generally created by technical communicators, may isolate and limit women who seek to pursue careers in these fields. Technical communication and gender scholars have examined women in the technical communication field and gender bias in male-dominated industries but have not yet examined gender stereotypes in training documents. Training documents are designed to provide written instructions and a reference guide for job functions, workplace rules, orientation, and company policies.

By analyzing training documents for pilots in the aviation field, several patterns of bias emerged and are used to make recommendations for how technical communicators can avoid isolation in documents meant to create connection.


  • Bias, regardless of how subtle or blatant, has no place in technical documents.
  • Steps for identifying bias in technical documents.
  • Tips that technical writers can implement to create inclusive documents.

Cultivating a Design Mind

John Bowie
Practitioner | Project Management, Leadership, and Career Development
2:00-2:45 PM

Over the past several decades, many different business processes have come and gone, but little attention has been paid to developing a new thought process for envisioning and creating great products that deliver great user experiences. The practice of UX design has mutated into something resembling version 12.0 software: patched and bloated with unnecessary features, all crammed together into a framework that it outgrew years ago. Lean UX is a step in the right direction, but what we need is a simpler way of thinking through a design (as opposed to a simpler process for doing design). My hypothesis is that if we can discover the right questions to ask, and ask them in the right sequence, we can liberate the genius designer deep inside each one of us.

Let’s try to filter out the noise and discover the essence of experience design, and explore how technical communicators can take on a leadership role in ensuring customers succeed with the technology that has become integral to their lives.


  • Product design is a technical communication problem, and technical communicators are well positioned to transition into design roles.
  • Discover the right questions to ask, and the right sequence to ask them, to liberate the genius designer deep inside each one of us.
  • Manage the politics of change as you transition from writer to communicator to communications designer.

Developing Training Websites With (Mostly) Open-Source Tools

Gretyl Kinsey
Practitioner | Tools and Technologies
2:00-2:45 PM

How can you make the most of open-source tools to create a web-based training resource? This case study shows how Scriptorium Publishing created the free DITA training website using the DITA learning and training specialization, GitHub, XSLT, video, and WordPress. The LearningDITA website uses multiple approaches to educate students about DITA, an open XML-based standard for creating, organizing, and managing content. Lessons include step-by-step instructions, guided and independent exercises, and assessment questions. Courses also provide resources, such as links to instructional videos.


  • Building a training platform with open-source tools will likely require a combination of multiple resources rather than a single solution.
  • Open-source solutions are free but often expensive in terms of effort, so a project manager should consider supporting open-source tools with licensed add-ons.
  • For optimal results, an open-source project manager must balance the need for content contributions from volunteers with the need for maintaining standards.

The Dollars and Sense of Visuals in Content: Original Research & Innovative Approaches

Daniel Foster
Foundation | Content Design and Delivery
2:00-2:45 PM

Why not just skip the screenshots and avoid the videos when it comes to user documents? After all, few technical writers are skilled at generating visuals and the pace of change makes it hard to keep them current.

This talk will share new, original research that quantifies (in time and dollars) the impact of images and video on understanding, retention of complex information, tasks completion, and productivity. The study also explores changing consumer preference and what it means for content creators in 2019.

We’ll wrap up by looking at one innovative method for leveraging the power of visual communication while reducing the need to update and localize the visuals in software documentation. See real life examples of Simplified User Interface (SUI)—a visual treatment for screenshots—and learn the three benefits of this approach.


1. Get introduced to new research quantifying the impact of visuals (e.g., annotated screenshots, GIFs, videos) on user understanding, retention, productivity.
2. Understand the impact of visual communication on business and customer experience outcomes.
3. See examples and benefits of the Simplified User Interface (SUI) approach to visuals for software documentation.

Refreshment Break & Vendor Raffle Drawings

Refreshment Break & Vendor Raffle Drawings
2:45-4:00 PM | Expo Hall

Enjoy an extended refreshment break before the last set of sessions on Tuesday afternoon. Find out who won the vendor raffles.

Docs and the Definition of Done: Incorporating Documentation into an Agile Environment

Janet Hu and Jessica Walker
Foundation | Project Management, Leadership, and Career Development
4:00-4:45 PM

With more and more companies transforming their developers, QAs, and writers into Scrum teams while following the Agile methodology, how do we, as technical writers, provide documentation for the sprint that actually meets our team’s Definition of Done (DOD)? We’ll explore how Agile works in two different scrum teams at SAP and how the documentation process has evolved from waterfall to Agile. The journey covers:
* the tools the team uses
* what happens in a typical sprint
* how the team meets the DOD, especially documentation
* the doc review process


  • How to incorporate developers into your documentation process while improving the communication between you and your Scrum team.
  • Learn tips on working in an Agile environment and how documentation can be completed along with the feature/user story within a single sprint.
  • Understand how to incorporate a typical doc review process into Agile.

Polymath Communicators: The Future of TechComm

Alisa Bonsignore
Practitioner | Project Management, Leadership, and Career Development
4:00-4:45 PM

Technical communicators were once thought to be single-subject experts. Today, we realize that the most successful among us are truly polymaths, bringing together subject matter expertise with our knowledge of multiple media channels, content strategy, user experience, and of course, writing. Yet for all of the skills that we bring to the workplace, we’re often uncertain about how to best communicate our value to management.

Attendees will learn the skills of the most successful communicators; discover new ways to leverage their strengths; and be able to demonstrate the value of being a Swiss Army Knife in a world of single-purpose tools.

Release Notes Matter!

Swapnil Ogale
Practitioner | Content Design and Delivery
4:00-4:45 PM

Product managers swear by them, development managers are keen on producing them and quite so often your developers or engineers will help (grudgingly) craft them.

Release notes are everywhere, be it a product or a process. They are quite often your first point of communication with customers eager to know what’s new or fixed in your product or process. In some instances, they also become the most frequently or commonly accessed content on your documentation site.

This is a presentation about how Release Notes can help shape your initial conversations with customers.


In this presentation, we look at
a. What makes for good release notes,
b. How they help customers/users understand product or process changes, and c. Different ways you can craft your release notes.

Style Guides: What Goes In Them and What All Can They Cover?

Elizabeth Fraley
Foundation | Content Design and Delivery
4:00-4:45 PM

Style guides are serve an important role for writers. They establish guidelines to improve communication, ensure consistency, and enforce best practices in composition, presentation, and language. They may vary in scope and length, but they always represent the specific needs of the business and it’s customers..

Most organizations adopt one of the major manuals of style, like the Chicago Manual of Style or the Microsoft Manual of Style, as their foundation. Most also develop an internal manual representing the “house style” that further defines the voice, tone, and vocabulary for the organization.

We find style guides everywhere–in stand-alone documents, application templates, in stylesheets–and we find more when we move out of desktop publishing into automated publishing systems.

In this session, we’ll talk about the different kinds of style guides and what each one covers. We’ll normalize some vocabulary so that when someone asks if you have a particular type of style guide, information model, or specification, you’ll be able to easily relate your situation to theirs.


In this session, you’ll learn how style guides can help with collaboration and improve consistency. I’ll describe the different kinds of style guides, what each contains, and when you need them.

Unexpected Manager: Learning to Lead When I Didn’t Expect It

Christine Christensen
Foundation | Project Management, Leadership, and Career Development
4:00-4:45 PM

Don’t think management is for you? Neither did I—until I became the manager of a group of technical writers. Whether or not you are in management or even think it could be possible, join me for a look at my journey down this unexpected career path. We’ll look at how to discover your management style and find mentors who can bring out your best. We will discuss personality types and how to use that information to better understand yourself, your motives, and your employees and explore how this can help you be a better manager. Learn how to identify your strengths and weaknesses and use that information to gain a greater understanding of your management style and improve on your weaknesses. Finally, we will discuss the harder parts of management, like change management or personnel issues, and how to approach those through the lens of your management style and personality type. All this while being authentic to yourself—the unexpected manager!


  • Identify your personality type and management style to lead in a way that is authentic to yourself.
  • Learn how to use both your strengths and weaknesses to be a better communicator and manager.
  • Find resources that will help you work through the parts of your job that are most difficult, such as change management or personnel issues.

Content in the Age of Machines: Incorporating Controlled Language into Your Content Strategy

Kit Brown-Hoekstra
Expert | Content Design and Delivery
4:00-4:45 PM

The Internet of Things, automation, chatbots, augmented and virtual reality, machine translation, among other innovations, are driving companies to develop content that is easily digestible by both humans and machines. To accomplish this feat, we need to incorporate controlled language and terminology management into our content strategies and information architectures. Implementing controlled language should be a strategic, multidisciplinary decision that is based on a holistic analysis of your terminology and content creation efforts.
Join us as we discuss some ways you can integrate controlled language into your content strategies.


  • Understanding of what controlled language is and how can fit into your content strategy.
  • 2-3 ideas that you can incorporate into your content strategy.
  • An approach for determining your readiness to implement controlled language.

Website Search with Apache Solr

Scott Prentice
Foundation | Tools and Technologies
4:00-4:45 PM

Search is crucial for helping customers access your online content. They may use Google to initially locate your docs, but once on your website help them focus on your content by providing a search tool integrated with your content. Do you spend time semantically tagging your content? Perhaps you should consider exposing some of that metadata to your customers? Do you have other types of content, like forums, blogs, and marketing material? A custom search implementation can tie it all together.

Apache Solr is a widely adopted, open source, search platform with features including full-text search, hit highlighting, faceted search, real-time indexing, and rich document (Word, PDF) support. This presentation will introduce you to Solr’s features and walk you through a basic installation and setup. It’s not as hard as you might think!


  • Solr is a robust and stable search platform, used by thousands of websites, large and small.
  • While it is full-featured with many configuration options, you can initially implement the basics and add features later as needed.
  • A well thought out and integrated search tool helps readers get the most from your documentation.

Leveraging Documentation Scope Creep to Your Advantage

Bernard Aschwanden
Practitioner | Project Management, Leadership, and Career Development
4:00-4:45 PM

Just asking “and” seems like such a small thing. You deliver PDF, they say “and…” to which you need to reply “HTML5, Apps, eBook, etc”. You offer to create a User Guide, they say “and…” so you include Admin Guide, Reference Guide, Tutorials, and Support Docs. Push back. See how you can deliver more, and do more, regardless of tools or tech. Show that you add value to sales, support, marketing, IT, and every department in the organization. Then leverage that to ask for (and get) more. More conferences, more resources, more vacation time, and more influence. Show up, learn to deliver more, do more, and get more. While there, ask what else you can get. “And…”


1. Deliver more: Forget tools, use best practices.
2. Do more: Create content that is more powerful and effective, and do it faster.
3. Ask for more: Show value to the business, track metrics, and use them to ask for more for yourself and your team.

Honors Reception

5:15-6:45 PM | Centennial Ballroom

The Honors Event will be held Tuesday, 7 May, at 5:15 PM. Light hors d’oeuvres and beverages will be served with this event. We’ll celebrate STC’s individual award winners, as well as the Most Improved Community and Community of the Year recipients.

Wednesday, 8 May

Registration Open

Registration Open
7:30-9:30 AM | Outside Expo Hall

Coffee Service

Coffee Service
7:00-7:45 AM | Outside Expo Hall

Closing Plenary Session: Tech Comm's Impact and Influence

8:00-11:00 AM | Centennial A-C

The Closing Plenary Session brings together three technical communication luminaries who will discuss the state of our profession, the impact we have made, and how we can more effectively influence others. This interlocking plenary will be a unique event that has been curated especially for STC’s Summit by three distinguished Fellows of the Society: Saul Carliner, Ginny Redish, and Karen Schriver.

Who Are We? A Report on the 2018 Census of Technical Communicators, Saul Carliner, Professor and Director of Graduate Programs at Concordia University

The 2018 Census of Technical Communicators sponsored by STC identifies who we are:
• Our educational and professional backgrounds
• Our current jobs: job titles, characteristics of the organizations in which we work, reporting relationships, types of projects on which we work, and tools and processes used in our work
• Professional development
• Satisfaction in our careers in technical communication and current positions
• Career plans for the next five years
• Opinions and concerns and future of technical communication

In this session, Saul (who conducted the research) will share the results of this survey and will use them to facilitate a conversation on the current state of our field—and how we can use this information to assess our own careers and situations.

Where we’ve been; where we’re going, Ginny Redish, Usability and Communication Consultant and plain language pioneer

Journey back in time to see a quick and very visual history of STC and our profession. Revel in the changes that both ideas and technology have wrought. See how our demographics changed, our skills broadened, our domains expanded. And also see what has been constant – the underlying focus on helping people do their tasks, meet their goals, solve their problems.

And then consider with Ginny how this history – plus the “where we are now” you heard from Saul Carliner – helps us think about the future. Where is your career going? Where is the profession going? What’s next for us to get excited about?

Improving your professional value: Using evidence to influence decision making, Karen Schriver, Information Design Consultant and research expert

Technical communicators are an entrepreneurial lot. Many of us are redefining ourselves by expanding both what we do and how we do it. We are also looking for empirical support about why we do what we do and how we can do it better. Come listen to Karen Schriver offer ways to develop your personal expertise and increase your credibility by drawing on research. See how becoming a critical consumer of research can help you more effectively argue from evidence to influence decision making on the job.

Karen will share stories from her extensive consulting experience to shed light on the value of being able to argue from evidence rather than opinion.