Full Schedule

The 2018 Summit runs from 20-23 May. A preliminary 2018 schedule is now available. Please note that the 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. Because sessions will not be recorded for the Summit Playback this year, make sure to choose sessions that best fit your Summit goals.

Experience Level

  • New TechComm Professionals and Students: Sessions meant for attendees new to the field and just learning about the topic.
  • 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).

This is a preliminary schedule, which is subject to change.

CPTC Preparation Training Course with Exam
Saturday, 19 May: 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM
Sunday, 20 May: 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM
Alan Houser, Consultant/Trainer, Group Wellesley, Inc.

Preconference Full Day and Half Day Workshops, Sunday, 20 May
Add UX Methodologies to Your Portfolio
8:30 AM-4:30 PM | Michelle Gardner
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 methodologies to your portfolio. According to a recent study, most B2B organizations have just begun to embrace UX as a core 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 full-day, interactive workshop gives you the opportunity to be among the first in your organization with a strong foundation in UX methodologies. 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.

Stop, Collaborate, and Listen: Evaluation is a Valuable Invention for Decision Making!
8:30 AM-4:30 PM | Jennifer Goode
Managers and technical communicators are constantly looking to the future–whether it be to develop a new product, improve on an existing process, or measure the effectiveness of existing organizational programming. Evaluation is a research-based approach that supports managers and technical communication leaders in valid, reliable, data-driven organizational decision making. In this session, participants learn how create and implement an evaluation plan to address a current challenge in their own organizations. Along the way, participants will discover:
+How to know what you’re evaluating
+How to get the right information from the right sources
+How to make sense of all that data
+How to communicate effectively based on findings
Participants will leave the session with collection of supporting materials to aid in the implementation of their newly drafted evaluation plan, including support for data analysis and communicating evaluation findings among organizational decision makers.

Science-Based Page Design for Technical Communicators
8:30 AM-4:30 PM | Tina M. Kister
Good page design is an essential component of effective technical communication. It ensures that information is easy to find, read, understand, and remember. It can elicit an immediate and positive visceral response, which also facilitates effective communication. Good page design is a discipline that can be achieved by applying fairly simple guidelines based on an understanding of the science of human visual perception. This presentation explores the scientific phenomena related to visual perception and how these phenomena form the foundation of best practices in page design. We look at how sensation processes (in the eye) provide the foundation for basic design elements, and how translation processes (in the brain) provide the foundation for basic design principles. Basic design elements and principles can then be combined, based on simple math and logic, to create documents that are both useful and visually appealing. The presentation includes examples and a quick-reference sheet for immediate practical application, and is appropriate for everyone.

Your Future in Management
8:30 AM-12:00 PM | Jessica Kreger
As a technical communicator, you see opportunities for both your team and your role to grow. But how can you make the transition from independent contributor to manager? In this workshop, Jessica Kreger, Senior Manager of Client Training and Education at TradeStation, an award-winning online brokerage firm, will share lessons learned on how to transition to management. Discover best practices for developing management skills, interviewing, recruiting, hiring talent, on-boarding and training new writers, team authoring, and balancing your role as documentation manager and content developer. Learn how to allocate work for creating topics and managing reviews. You’ll leave the workshop equipped with a checklist of the steps you need to advance your career, and to manage your new team.

Technological Adaptability: Building a Technology-Rich Portfolio
8:30 AM-12:00 PM | Melonie McMichael
We talk about it all the time, yet we have no specific word for it. We know it is a needed and valuable skill, yet we do not teach it. We see it as part of our technology skills, yet do not recognize it as a skill on its own. What is this nebulous ability that is so important to our field yet so little quantified? Technological adaptability is the ability to learn technology quickly or deal with technology issues efficiently and with confidence. A skill in and of itself that can be learned and taught, most of us are required to demonstrate this ability to excel in our field. When considering the future of the technology we use in our field, we can guarantee it will change – and most likely it will change quickly. As technical communicators, we must adapt to these changes. Not only do we need to keep our technology skills current, we need to keep our adaptability skills honed as well. The goal of this session is to establish the significance and application of technological adaptability to our field, to provide our field with a common language to discuss technological adaptability, and to assisting the individual in assessing and expanding on their own adaptability skills.

Topic-based and Structured Authoring-Keeping it Simple
1:00-4:30 PM | Neil Perlin
Topic-based authoring creates content in small chunks instead of book-length documents. Structured authoring applies formal structure to those topics. They’re different processes but most effective when used together. Consistency makes the content easy for authors to write and readers to absorb; “bead-sized” content allows single sourcing to almost any format and device. But implementing topic-based and structured authoring can be time-wasting, expensive, and over-complicated if done wrong. In this fast-paced, tool-agnostic workshop, you’ll look at various factors to see how to implement topic-based and structured authoring as quickly, inexpensively, and simply as possible.
You’ll look at:
• Definitions of topic-based and structured authoring.
• Business factors – support for company strategy, handling legacy material, and similar business process issues.
• Technical factors – technical trends and how they affect content development, maintenance, and distribution.
• Implementation factors – information type definition, template creation, cascading style sheets, DITA vs. non-DITA, and other implementation specifics.
• Hands-on practice on paper – the heart of this workshop – to define a topic type and structure. You won’t leave with all the answers. Companies are too different for pat answers. But you will leave with the concepts needed to start implementing topic-based and structured authoring.

Temperament-based Strategies for Excelling in the Workplace
1:00-4:30 PM | Ben Woelk
Temperament types have big impacts on work relationships. Today’s workplace presents challenges for both introverted and extraverted team members. Many workplaces are adopting open space layouts that foster teamwork but provide little opportunities for introverts to contribute as individuals. Extraverts may struggle with working with Introverts. Because of Western society’s emphasis on extraversion, many introverts feel unsuited or ill-equipped to thrive in today’s workplace and are not sure how to take that next step to increase influence and improve visibility. All personality types may have issues working with coworkers or management. Is your manager a Guardian, an Idealist, a Rational, or an Artisan? How does that change how you approach them? Suitable for all attendees, you’ll benefit from understanding your temperament and how you interact best with others. Attendees will benefit most from the workshop if they know their Myers-Briggs/temperament profile in advance. I recommend taking the tests at humanmetrics.com and keirsey.com before attending.

Summit Education Sessions (50 minutes)-Specific days and times coming soon!
Fueling Your Future: STC Experience Builds Professional Leadership Skills, Bethany Aguad, Crystal Brezina, Nick Ducharme, & Alex Garcia
The collaboration of experienced leaders with newer practitioners fosters leadership skills as the newer practitioners advance their careers and prepare to take on management roles in their companies and profession. Four young leaders detail their development from student members to Orlando Central Florida chapter leaders. Mentored by experienced professionals, these four “Rising Stars” describe the key roles they now hold within the community and how the chapter’s flourishing student mentoring and leadership development programs accelerated their growth into positions of responsibility. The presentation with interactive question and answer breakout includes a take-away handout, along with an index to an online toolkit of techniques and proven strategies to support newer members or less experienced practitioners as they prepare to assume leadership positions.

The topics covered in this session include:

  • The student mentoring program as a model for workplace mentorship
  • Veteran leaders training new leaders: Training entry and middle-level practitioners to assume leadership roles
  • Annual Leadership Retreat as a key to strategic planning
  • Fueling volunteerism with fun: integrating social activities into Administrative Council meetings

After the formal panel presentation, informal interactive discussions maximize the take-away value of the session by enabling participants to explore ways of adapting the leadership development approaches described in the session to their own STC communities and their professional careers.

Taking Control: How Tech Comms Are Driving Brand Language, Rhyne Armstrong & Nate Wolf
Do your docs match your marketing? Does that match the on-screen text? If not, why not, and who made that horrible decision? In this session, we discuss how our team is driving brand language for our product, how we are dictating voice and tone, and why it makes sense coming from us. Learn about the struggles we face, and how we are doing this on an enterprise level. Don’t just be a passenger on the road to customer understanding, take control of the wheel!

Leading Your Team: A Survival Horror Guide, Rhyne Armstrong
Surrounded by countless unseen horrors, your survival depends on those you choose for your team. Will you choose wisely, or will your choices be your doom? In this horrifyingly enlightening session, we will use key elements from popular leadership resources to make sure you, your team, and your organization is equipped with the tools and techniques required to stay alive! Will you be overwhelmed by those blood thirsty fiends waiting to rip you to shreds, or will you learn enough to keep the destruction at bay? Your life may depend on your attendance.

Plan for Tomorrow: Project Management and Tech Comm Fundamentals, Bernard Aschwanden
Writers are involved in project management. From the smallest piece of content (maybe just a review of a letter) to the most complex content going (documenting an airplane, drug, electric car, government policy, software manual, medical device, or any other information) we manage scope, schedule, budget, quality, risk, stakeholder input, and so much more. Isn’t it about time we leveraged the best practices of project management to deliver the best documentation we can? Learn to manage projects better by knowing more about the core components of a project. Identify what these mean for tech comm. Leave with a key list of 10 knowledge areas, and an understanding of how they relate to every single tech comm project we work on. Better documentation through better management of our work. Sounds easy, right? Show up, learn how, show immediate value when you return to work.

Give in to the Power of the Dark Side: Marketing and Tech Comm are Converging! Bernard Aschwanden
We’ve come to think of it like this: content is content. Marketing and technical communications are generated for the same end users at different points in the product adoption life-cycle. The distinction between marketing communications and technical communications is far less pronounced than it once was. Managers sometimes see little difference in skill-sets and often put content creators together in one role or department – and maybe they’re right. During our careers we’re often dealing with a lot of technical content but also creating marketing communications; we’re in a good position to see how very little difference there might be between them. They’re both an always-on dialogue with the user, just at different points in the product adoption life-cycle. We’ll explore the audiences who consume content, ideas related to a seamless content experience, how both training and support factor into this, and talk about implementation ideas.

Teaching Technical Writing to Engineers-What Works? Noel Atzmiller
This session is intended for technical communicators who have been tasked with providing technical writing training to engineers (and other highly educated, technical individuals). Attendees receive information about 10 lessons learned that they can use when developing and leading their training sessions.

Managing the Monster, Managing the Zoo, Elizabeth Bailey
Every technical communicator, whether controlling a single large project or a dozen small ones, must develop a set of management skills appropriate to managing a documentation effort. This session speaks to the skills that are necessary managing these efforts and is appropriate for the new technical communicator. Attendees will walk away with a better understanding of the skills needed and have a better idea of how they can enhance their own skill set.

Learning Environment Modeling Language (LEM): The New Language of Instructional Design, Phylise Banner
This session will introduce to an easy-to-use and powerful visual learning design method called Learning Environment Modeling (LEM) — a unique visual language created to enhance communication and foster collaboration between instructional design professionals and diverse stakeholders. During the session, participants will learn how to:
• Visually communicate the correlation of specific design elements to learning results.
• Use Learning Environment Modeling (LEM) to collaborate effectively with blended learning project teams and clients.
• Facilitate more effective communication throughout the design process.
• Use a learning environment design system and tool to remove or reduce ego-centric behaviors and attitudes during the design process. Join us to explore how LEM supports creative learning experience design and removes barriers to communication throughout the learning design process.

Lights, Camera, Action! Exploring Video Basics for Non-Production Professionals, Darcy Beery & Stacy Barton
Given the choice between finding the user manual or googling a short video on YouTube, many users would prefer to both hear and see the information being presented, especially younger generations who have been raised with technology. The basic concepts of video production need no longer be shrouded in the the mysterious aura of Hollywood as consumer technology has become both cost effective and highly professional. If you or your company have been toying with the idea of producing videos for clients or customers, but have fretted about the costs or effectiveness of this method, take heart it is now easier and more anticipated than ever before.

Will Artificial Intelligence Change Tech Comm? Nicky Bleiel
Artificial intelligence systems can take technical content and deliver it in potentially unlimited ways, but will it change the way we write content?  In this presentation, we will consider how artificial intelligence works, how AI systems are trained, and what AI systems can learn from content.  We’ll also discuss the capabilities of AI-based chatbots, how chatbots can supplement traditional content deliverables, and if we need to fundamentally change the way we provide content to feed chatbots and other AI systems.

Won’t You Please, Please Help Me Find a Path to Leadership? Alisa Bonsignore
You don’t need to be the CEO to be a leader. In this session, we’ll discuss a variety of ways in which techcomm professionals can take the next step in their careers, even if traditional management roles aren’t available or desired.

Get Rid of the Nits! Improving Content Quality By Using Automated Tools, Kristin Brown
This session is designed to empower content development teams to run automated tests and improve the quality of their deliverables. With a bit of code, anyone can build tools that identify common content nits. You might configure automation tools to:
– Check for broken links – Test accessibility
– Process translation files – Run a review instance of your content
– Check last modified dates for outdated content
– Apply filtering
– Apply content reuse
– Post Slack updates that contain stats from those scans for quick perusal every morning Through this session, I will provide a few tools and ideas for how content teams can get started automating CLI tools they use already and develop new tasks.
Learning objectives:
– Discover that common tasks can be automated
– Describe tooling that can be used to develop automation
– Apply the outlined methodology to make automation goals achievable
– Collect code examples that can be built upon
– Find education and support

How to Get Three (3) Stars: What we can Learn from Mobile Game Design, Alexandra Cata
Using mobile games provides an easy, fun alternative to examine mobile usability and user interactions, in addition to being cost beneficial as there are many high quality mobile games that are free to play. Downloading successful free games allows technical communicators to quickly experience effective or ineffective usability, and provides an easy entry point into mobile design. This approach is relevant because technical communication already leans on general game design, such as gamification. Additionally, technical communication research is beginning to specifically examine video games and how technical communicators can work within that space. This research shows clear intersections and overlap between technical communication and video game design.

Your Mind is the Most Valuable CMS: Working Deeper Independent of Technology, Kim Chmielewicz
Technical communicators in environments that do not invest in the latest tools and applications may feel disadvantaged by their perceived lack of resources. In such scenarios, writers/illustrators/information architects do not need to do more work, but deeper work. “Deep work” is significant reflection and thoughtful organization not solely driven to display information in automated formats, but uses customized structures to reflect the way data is most useful to the employees, customers, and vendors of organizations. Learn how to utilize your professional experiences and unique best practices via considered analysis and honest reflection on solutions you have created, and practice techniques that enable closer listening to your occupational muse and your collaborators in service of asking better questions to obtain more robust insights. This discipline leads directly to more useful and valuable outcomes for your customers and extends your confidence in your communication skills. Be prepared to contribute some of your own insights to our discussion and to be potentially overwhelmed by all the possible applications this new framing may unlock for you!

Policies and Procedures-Communicate the Future, Dawnell Claessen, Emily Kowal, & Ann Marie Queeney
A presentation and discussion about the future of the profession of Policies and Procedures and our roles and the nature of our work in that future. This session will present attendees with ideas about the skills that will be most valuable for Policy Analysts, Procedures Writers, Compliance and the Process Specialists of the future. We will discuss the technologies and methods that will allow us to continue to contribute to process improvements and to the success of our organizations. This session will also discuss what will likely remain the same, and skills that are important now that we can carry into the future in our field, followed by what is sure to be different and new for Policies and Procedures Practitioners’ work in the future. This session will be beneficial to any attendees engaged in or interested in Compliance, Process Improvement, Policies and Procedures, Quality Processes and Regulatory Affairs.

Moving Content through the Workflow: Frustrations and Fixes, Erica Cummings
“Did you get a chance to review that draft I sent you?” As writers, it’s a question we’ve all asked. And at some point, most of us have gotten little more than a blank stare in response. Perhaps one of the most frustrating aspects of writing is getting the type of feedback you need, in the format you need it, in a timely fashion. The more steps in the writing/editing workflow process there are, the higher the chances it can get hung up somewhere. But we can’t just ax the process altogether. We need feedback to ensure we deliver quality content. In this session, we’ll discuss some of the frustrations we all experience when attempting to move our content through the workflow process. More importantly, some of solutions to this problem I’ve seen work in my own company will be covered as well. This includes improving team accountability, building an effective/repeatable process, and leveraging tools where you can. Having a solid process for moving content through the workflow will help you in the fast-paced future of technical communication.

Don’t Get Fired by a Robot: How Social Intelligence Outperforms Artificial Intelligence, Dan Day
Artificial intelligence can write, spell, check grammar and build a story. So what separates it from us, as human technical communicators, in the future? Our Social Intelligence can save us, if we understand and learn to apply it–and that’s exactly what this session does! You’ll learn how to:
– Understand Social Intelligence and how it affects how we communicate
– Become more versatile, adapting to the communication styles of others…something AI cannot do
– Leverage your individual human strengths to become a better communicator You will leave this workshop with a toolkit you can apply immediately to become a more effective, socially intelligent communicator.

Regular Expressions: Putting Your Searches on Steroids, Robert Delwood
Regular expressions take find and replace to new levels. You can find text *patterns*, not just exact text. With patterns you can find, replace and even format all the phone numbers, replace all span tags in a Flare document (“<span>my text</span>” with “my text”), find every e-mail address in a document all documents names, all dates formats, and words you’re not even sure how they’re spelled, like Jeffrey, or Jeff, Jeffery, and Geoffrey. Do each of these in a single search. This ability, also called regex, is described as find on steroids. Learn how Flare supports find using regular expressions. It’s not limited to one product. This works with any text based product. With other tools, such as NotePad++, you can make changes to one or more files at the same time. It’s versatile enough that writers and programmers alike can use it, and opens a new world to find and replace.

What Senior Editors Want You to Know: Advice for New Writers and Editors, Angela Eaton
Joining a new field or taking on a new role in one can be stressful. Additionally, senior practitioners may be hesitant to point out where newcomers might strengthen their skills. One group of practitioners who comes into contact with most newcomers in our field is editors, who frequently review early work and have a very accurate idea of the strengths and areas for improvement in new technical writers and editors. This session will present the results of a new survey conducted of senior technical editors, asking them about how newer practitioners can improve their craft. Attendees will come away with a handout describing the most commonly mentioned issues and strategies for dealing with them. Faculty members will also benefit from learning about what skills advanced practitioners think newcomers could strengthen.

Learn to Read Facial Expressions and Gestures for an Edge in Communication, Crystal Elerson
Being able to communicate effectively requires good listening skills developed over time. Beyond using our ears to listen, we use our eyes to see and read people. Leading research experts, such as Dr. Paul Ekman, claim that without training, the average person misreads visual cues 50% of the time. That means that half the time, we are wrong in our perceptions of the feelings and thoughts of others during face-to-face meetings. In today’s technology driven world, we meet with clients, customers, and colleagues face-to-face through video-driven meetings. The visual clues we need to understand each other are in front of us all the time, but we have not learned to read them properly. This session aims to train the audience in the basics of reading faces for immediate practical use in professional settings. The soft skill of reading faces will help improve interpersonal communication and reduce misunderstandings due to faces, giving the user an edge in the work place. Updates from last year: Although this session will include much of the same material from last year, I have added updates to include gestures as part of body language.

The Future of Document Design in Virtual Reality, Crystal Elerson & Terry Smith
During the 40-minute session, Elerson and Smith will present their preliminary findings related to reading in digital media from 2D screen to virtual reality. They will cover how reader cues translate between 2D and 3D, and between a static and interactive environment. This session will include screenshots and short videos to show methods of good and problematic communication in virtual reality to demonstrate the value of our recommendations. If space allows, we would like to allow attendees to participate in a short virtual reality training session outside the presentation session, so that attendees can may gain firsthand experience with virtual reality. In this case, we suggest that our presentation session come on a later day of the conference, so that attendees may have the opportunity to use our equipment before attending the session, and so we can offer aggregated results to our audience that they created from their experiences.

Future-Proof Writing: How to Craft User-Focused Effective Content, Sara Feldman
You already write quality content, but do you know if it is effective and adaptive to consumer trends? Mobile-friendly content is already a given, but a proliferation of new channels is changing the content landscape even more dramatically. Internet-connected appliances, conversational user interfaces, chatbots, augmented reality—these devices demand that content contributes to a seamless user experience. Consumer behavior and new technology is also shaping user expectations for quality content. If your content isn’t the best and quickest answer to your target users’ questions, then they will go elsewhere. Even Google’s AI is learning to favor content that most effectively fulfills the searcher’s intent. Learn about a user-focused effective content framework to guide your content decisions and learn how the future of seamless content experiences impacts your writing today.

Opportunities and Strategies for Writing for Cyber Security Audiences, Maria A. Flores
Cyber security skills are in high demand, yet in short supply. We, as technical communicators, can transition our writing and related experience into this booming domain. Learn about opportunities, audiences, and strategies for meeting the challenges of writing in for cyber security.

The Future is Decided by Your Actions Today, Liz Fraley
How do you prepare for the future when you don’t know what’s there? Do you buy a tool? Change an architecture (like go to XML)? Take a class? Adopt UI/UX practices? Will a grand, sweeping execution of committed action guarantee your place in the future? Where does the future come from? What do you have to understand to get where you want to go? Every day we make decisions and take actions. Hundreds of them. Each and every one has an impact on the future. In this session, we’re going to learn how to look into the future and see the steps it takes to get you where you want to go. We’ll talk about how you can adopt change and set your own pace. In this session, learn how to you can rapidly adopt change and still learn at your own pace. Learn how to break things down so that you’re on track to get to where you need to be. I’ll describe several situations where teams have been successful out of the gate. We’ll walk through several real-life situations where teams have done just this, adopted change one step at a time setting a pace and achieving their goals successfully. Learn that you can deliver the standard and quality you do now even if you have to go through change.

Dethrone the Content King! Culture is the True King! Jamie Gillenwater
In every career path, professionals help others. As a content professional, what problem do you solve? We often think content is the solution, but what is the real problem? The culture of a company influences customer, employee, and vendor relationships more than any other business asset. In this session, we will discover the relationships between the players, along with how to change your company’s culture. We will discuss the following aspects of company culture:
• Talent acquisition
• Talent development
• Hidden biases
• Leadership We will discuss how each of these pieces fit together for success, along with tools and techniques for assessing and addressing each of these areas.

Can You Hear Me Now? Podcasting as a Teaching Tool, Jennifer Goode
Podcasting is one of the fastest growing areas of content production today. How can technical communication instructors capitalize on this rapidly expanding technology? This session will demonstrate how students can develop technical skills, increase content knowledge and understanding, and refine communication skills as they create podcasts for their course projects. It will also introduce the tools and technology necessary to set up your own course podcasting project. Finally, the session will share instructor and student reflections from a recent course that used podcasts as a major course project.

Preparing Your Content for Intelligent Machines, Rob Hanna
Intelligent agents and AI-powered cognitive content solutions perform best with machine-ready content—intelligent content designed to be read by humans and processed by computers. To deliver the right answer to prospects and customers who have questions, you’ll need to optimize your content production approaches and begin crafting content with the precision humans appreciate, and machines require. There’s no reason to create new departments full of writers dedicated to creating content specifically for chatbots and voice interfaces. A better solution is to leverage existing marketing and product content for these new delivery channels. To do so successfully, and at scale, you’ll need bridge the gap between technical communication and marketing by developing a coordinated effort designed to produce high-quality content at scale; content that is accurate, timely, and contextually-relevant. Attend this session to better understand the need for intelligent content and its applicability to chatbots, voice interfaces, and intelligent agents. You’ll discover the world of micro-content and the importance of framing information for intended user responses. And, you’ll find out how aligning information types to memory encoding principles can help you dramatically improve content performance.

You Can Communicate, But Are You Listening to Your International Team? Joleen Hanson & Jennifer Smoot
Technology makes entrance into the world of international business much easier and less expensive than ever before. Few business leaders would turn away from the opportunity to grow their company in a region that was out of reach for them just a few years before. However, even when a company has the means, a global-ready business model, and an executive team eager to make the jump, they can still be knocked out of the international market before they even begin. The big questions companies should ask aren’t just about technology, finances and business plans. The bigger question should be: Is your whole team ready for the realities of intercultural communication? Managers need to prepare employees at all levels for communicating with colleagues from different cultures. With the help of recent research with a large international company, this interactive session will explore strategies and approaches for helping communication professionals proactively develop intercultural communication skills. Be proactive – don’t wait for employees to learn by trial and error!

Scoped Out, Sarah Kiniry
How do you reliably estimate the documentation and communication needs of a project that hasn’t even been started? How do you maintain that estimate in the face of iterative development and unplanned implementation changes? This session will use a set “workflow” to generate a detailed list of needs, distill them into tasks for the Agile process, and use the workflow chart itself to set a global “definition of done” for your organization’s technical communications.

Faster Content, Better Healthcare: Improving Cancer Diagnostics with Electronic Delivery, Gretyl Kinsey
Quick access to cancer staging information leads to faster diagnoses and improves patient care—which is a challenge when the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) Cancer Staging Manual is only available in print. What if the manual’s content were integrated into electronic medical records to help doctors find the information they need via API instead? The AJCC faced numerous challenges in implementing a structured content solution for electronic delivery. To ensure that API delivery would work as intended, the AJCC had to move unstructured content into strict, consistently used tags. The AJCC also had to make its new delivery methods work with existing health information systems, as well as minimize the impact of the new structure on the doctors who serve as volunteer content contributors. This case study shows how Scriptorium worked with the AJCC to build a DITA specialization that allowed them to implement such a solution.

UX/UI Design Crash Course, Jessica Kreger
You’ve got the words down pat, and are a pro at writing and editing. But when it comes to design or working with designers, well, that’s a different story. Fear not, as this crash course in UI/UX design for students and new technical communicators will illustrate the basics of how to use user interface (UI) design to improve the user experience (UX) of both your products and your help system. Join Jessica Kreger, Senior Manager of Client Training and Education at TradeStation, an award-winning online brokerage firm, as she demonstrates how to enhance the design of online help systems. We will cover key topics including: basic UI/UX terminology; making visual-verbal communication; using screenshots, photos, and video; developing personas to guide design decisions; using designers and design software; and proving impacts to your bottom line. You’ll leave the workshop with the foundational knowledge to apply the basics of design yourself and work with UI/UX designers; an array of metrics to prove the value of user-friendly interfaces; and many expert references for more information.

They’re Coming! Combining Teams and Cultures in a Corporate Merger, Larry Kunz
Your technical communication future will take place against a backdrop of corporate change. Whether you’re a permanent employee or a contractor, the companies you work for will evolve through mergers, acquisitions, and realignments. This session prepares managers and team leads for this future of inorganic growth. You’ll learn the dynamics of combining diverse teams, workflows, and tool sets. A case study describes how one company anticipated and handled the upheaval that resulted from three major mergers within a year. Larry Kunz describes how he led a cross-corporate team that successfully integrated three separate DITA content bases — each with different configurations and workflows — onto a single content management system. Larry and his management team also worked to align corporate cultures, preserving the best aspects of each company while being sensitive to employees’ concerns and fears. Their approach emphasized empathetic listening and clear communication. You’ll leave this session with practical, proven ideas for smoothing transitions and building new, unified teams.

Technological Adaptability: Formalizing a Vital Skill, Melonie McMichael
We talk about it all the time, yet we have no specific word for it. We know it is a needed and valuable skill, yet we do not teach it. We see it as part of our technology skills, yet do not recognize it as a skill on its own. What is this nebulous ability that is so important to our field yet so little quantified? Technological adaptability is the ability to learn technology quickly or deal with technology issues efficiently and with confidence. A skill in and of itself that can be learned and taught, most of us are required to demonstrate this ability to excel in our field. The goal of this session is to establish the significance and application of technological adaptability to our field, to provide our field with a common language to discuss technological adaptability, and to assisting the individual in assessing and expanding on their own adaptability skills.

Technical Communication as Health Communication: The Future is Now, Lisa Meloncon
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, the question becomes how do technical communicators participate? What can we do to enter/contribute to this discussion? We can apply our knowledge of usability, methodology, and technical communication to patient education in what I call patient experience design (PXD). In this presentation, I explain what PXD is, how PXD developed and describe a successful project to illustrate that the future is now for the merging of technical communication to health communication.

Personal Branding: Are You Selling Features or Benefits? Jack Molisani
In this session, professional recruiter Jack Molisani will share how the content strategy team at Facebook for Business enables success for billions of customers in over 100 languages worldwide. Then he’ll share how what he learned from Facebook for Business fundamentally changed his approach to his job and his career. First, watch an 18 minute TED-like keynote by Margo Merrill Fernandez, the Manager of Content Strategy at Facebook for Business: https://meet42914024.adobeconnect.com/p8jdpsdn6db Then attend Jack’s entertaining and enlightening talk on how Margo’s presentation inspired his realization about personal branding that fundamentally changed his approach to content strategy, his job, and his career. Will you have the same career-changing realization Jack did? Attend this session and find out!

Yes And…: Improv’ing Your Corporate Communication Skills-Ben Woelk (Part I), Jack Molisani (Part II)
Have you ever been caught off-guard by an unexpected question from your boss? Or wanted to network at a meeting but didn’t know what to say? The Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science works with scientists to help them communicate complex topics clearly and engagingly using principles from Improv (improvisational) Comedy. The facilitators will introduce you to the basics and Improv comedy, then lead you through exercises designed to improv your organizational communication skills.

All I Know About Collaboration I Learned from Rock & Roll, Aiessa Moyna
Technical communicators at all levels and in all settings need to work collaboratively. Whether you’re relatively new in your career or a seasoned professional, working as a lone writer/editor or leading a large department, you frequently will have to work on a cross-functional team where your success – and the success of your business – depends on collaborating with colleagues with varying backgrounds, skills and levels of expertise. What can technical communicators learn about collaboration from U2, The Beatles or Nirvana? A lot! During this session, we’ll examine the song lyrics and stories of popular rock bands to learn how successful collaborators seek diverse perspectives, build trust, bust barriers, work their networks, manage conflict and, when their best-laid plans go astray, improvise.

From Open Source Volunteer to Full-Time Tech Writer, Gale Naylor
Are you transitioning to technical writing from another career? Or just starting out? Perhaps you’re looking to make a move into writing developer docs. In this session, I’ll tell you how I used my experience on an open source project to land a full-time technical writing position at Facebook. You’ll learn a little bit about open source projects: what they are; where you can find them; and what I think you can learn by contributing to one. Then, I’ll share my experience and suggest ways to get noticed and become a contributing team member. Finally, I’ll tell you about the other things I did that led to my success, along with a list of resources to get you started.

Trends in Tech Comm: Tales from the Trenches, Sarah O’Keefe, Dawn Stevens, & Val Swisher
Join three industry-leading consultants (Sarah O’Keefe, Val Swisher, and Dawn Stevens) for their view of the future of tech comm. What’s hot? What’s not? Where is the industry going? What do you need to do to succeed in today’s tech comm environment? Learning objectives:
* Understand big-picture tech comm trends
* Learn about skills that are and will be in demand
* Avoid career dead ends

Content: Is It Really An Asset? Sarah O’Keefe
Assets have long life, and their value depreciates over time. Does content meet that definition? Some content does not. A tweet is usually short-lived with relevance measured in hours or, at best, days. But other content lives for months or years. An aircraft maintenance manual, for example, or a product description might remain relevant for several years after being created. What makes content an asset? A content asset is information that helps a customer accomplish a task. Content that you can deliver in multiple formats is more valuable than content locked into a single delivery mechanism. Content with metadata is more valuable than content without metadata. Some content just doesn’t contribute to the user experience. It provides information, but not useful information. The formatting is not particularly attractive. Readers ignore or throw away the document. This type of content is sadly common. The level of effort required to create it is significant, but the result is a content liability. Join us to learn about how to make sure that your content and your publishing infrastructure are an asset to your business and not a liability.

How to Train Your AI Using DITA, Vishal George Palliyathu
AI driven Chatbots are a rage now. Would these make the current documentation libraries obsolete? Or would our current doc source be leveraged to be made as a good corpus to chatbots. We do live in very intresting times, and our careers too need to transform!

Minimalist Writing for Maximum Communication, Bruce Poropat
What we write must compete for the attention of readers who navigate oceans of words every day. It’s more critical that ever that we don’t dilute our writing with extra words, complex phrasing, and extraneous information.

We Stoop to Conqquer: Adjusting to Mediocrity, Li-At Rathbun
When our boss or client says “good enough” work is good enough, shouldn’t it be good enough? Why is it a struggle to produce mediocre work when that’s what the customer wants? Yes, one day the powers-that-be will agree that all documentation must be flawless and superb. But how do we survive until that day comes? This session:
• Explores reasons for why mediocre work might be okay
• Teaches us a mantra—for those times we just need to hunker down and deliver so much less than what we’re capable of
• Is a venting session! In our cone of silence, we will close our eyes, use anonymous names, and share our travails. We will learn we are not alone in the trenches of mediocrity!*
* No, of course you’ve never worked on a project of this sort; I’m talking to the others. You’ll just be there “to observe.”

Lessons Learned: What Harry Potter Professors Teach Us About Instructional Design, Jamye Sagan
As technical communicators, we can help communicate the future by being ready to tackle any project we receive – even ones outside our realms of expertise. For instance, our clients and employers may ask us to help develop training materials and programs, even if we have never formally studied instructional design. 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 presentation, we will profile various Hogwarts professors, and analyze the effectiveness of their lesson delivery. Within the lens of each professor profile, we will share 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 the necessary 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 professors.

Cognition, Usability, and Design-The Psychology of Design and Use, Kirk St.Amant
Usable objects create and contribute value to the related organization; non-usable ones do not. Technical communicators must therefore increasingly design materials to meet the usability expectations of different audiences. They can thus benefit from approaches that help them understand and address the usability expectations of different groups. This presentation introduces technical communicators – from the novice to the experienced – to cognitive psychology models that can facilitate the design of communication products to meet the usability expectations of different audiences. Attendees will learn how to:
— Use these models to do research related to the usability expectations of different audiences
— Apply the related findings to create materials that meet the usability expectations of these audiences
— Convey such research and design ideas in ways that connect to and contribute to an organization’s core practices Through using such approaches to guide and discuss their work, technical communicators can more effectively reveal the ways in which they contribute value to their organizations.

Converging Around Research: Establishing Effective Industry-Academic Research Partnerships in the Field, Kirk St.Amant
Individuals in technical communication generally acknowledge the importance of research in advancing the field in the future. Industry practitioners and academic researchers, however, often differ over what research is and how it should be done. Recent work in this area reveals certain approaches can foster effective research-based collaboration across these areas. This presentation overviews these approaches. Designed for technical communicators in industry and academia, the presentation examines how each group has historically viewed research and how it adds value over time. In reviewing these ideas, the presenter will note areas of overlap across industry and academia and explain how such overlap can help bridge different perceptions of research. By introducing strategies for engaging in research, the presenter will reveal how both groups can establish meaningful collaborations that benefit all involved. (The presenter will also review examples of how such approaches have led to effective industry-academic research partnerships in the past.) The presentation will conclude by noting how attendees can foster such research-based partnerships within the field and discuss how such partnership can help examine ideas of value and value creation in the future.

An Information Experience (IX) Maturity Model for Organizational Transformation, Sudhir Subudhi
Target audience: Technical Writers, Documentation Managers, Content Strategists, and other decision makers, business stakeholders Concept: Currently, many organizations know the benefits of User Experience (UX) or Information Experience (IX) in particular for content industry. These subjects are fascinating. Yet It’s just theory to most organizations. Putting it into practice organizationally is a real challenge. Many are unaware where they are, where to start and where to end. Through this session, I will explain a sample IX Maturity Model, that content experts in a company can implement, to mature the company as a whole, phase-wise.
Takeaway: Printout of IX Maturity Model; Printout of IX tools and methods at different stages of a project; Content experts and stakeholders can visualize where they stand and what activities they can do next; and companies can see what level of IX they can implement immediately

How Natural Language Processing Fuels Cognitive Systems, Val Swisher
Join subject matter expert, Val Swisher (CEO, Content Rules) for a highly illuminating and thought provoking exploration into artificial intelligence (AI) and its potential impact upon the future of content management. In this talk learn more about:
• How at its heart AI is a sophisticated natural language processor.
• The synergy between content management/taxonomies and training AI natural linguistic patterning.
• How content management is critical to AI effectiveness in data mining dark content and determining future applications such as virtual agents and chat bots.

Communicate Your Value: How Analytics Can Transform Your Career, Dustin Vaughn
Marketing, Sales, and many other groups rely heavily on analytic data to make critical business decisions. However, when it comes to technical documentation, the most common approach to analytics is often to “hope and pray”. Join Dustin Vaughn, Solutions Consulting Manager with Adobe, to discuss how analytics can dramatically impact the career possibilities of the technical communicator by facilitating a transition from a cost center to a value center within the organization. We will also discuss how to align strategically within the organization to enhance your visibility and opportunities for success.

Tech Writing Meets Translation: Tips and Tricks, Michael Ward & Lacey Corbin
If you think translation is a confusing black box, this session is for you. You do not need to speak another language to ensure that your documents are spot on for readers around the world. We will reveal what really happens to your technical documents when they go to a translator and talk about what translators wish you as the document’s author knew beforehand. By starting your technical project with translation in mind, you will be ahead of the game. In the future, you will be able to save time, money, and heartache by preparing documents that are 100% ready for translation so that your clients (and readers) around the world stay happy.

The Introvert in the Workplace: Becoming an Influencer and Leader, Ben Woelk
Many introverts struggle to succeed in the workplace when asked to “think on their feet” or to make decisions without an array of facts in hand. Much workspace design is moving to open plans, where anyone, much less introverts, may struggle with distractions and lack of privacy. Some introverts may look for leadership opportunities, but feel stymied when trying to figure out how to move up. Although not every introvert is interested in a formal leadership position (nor have the opportunity in their workplace), every introvert has the ability to become an influencer.

Join the presenter as we discuss how to identify our strengths and become influencers when we don’t have positional authority. We’ll discuss strategies that work for us and how to make sure we’re not passed over when leadership opportunities arise. We’ll also create an action plan for becoming that influencer or leader. Attendees will benefit most from the presentation if they know their Myers-Briggs/Keirsey temperament profile in advance or have used other tools such as Enneagram or Strengths Finder.