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Perspectives on the TechComm Roadshow / by Malu Schloss, Elaine Jefferson, Sue Krol and Jake Kelly

Introduction   by Malu Schloss,, Regional Competition Chair, NY Metro chapter

Let's face it! About two percent of us are able to make it to the STC International Summit yearly, and see the International Competition awardees. With the increasing demands on us  to manage content in multiple platforms, instruct and yes, enhance the user experience, the TechComm Roadshow seemed like a good idea to highlight outstanding achievements of international awardees and local talent.  See 2012 TechComm RoadShow Summary.

Fifty four participants from the tri-state, PA, New England, TX area came or logged in virtually to the first TechComm Roadshow last September 27, 2012 showcasing recent STC winners, their stories, challenges and strategies.

The roadshow was hosted live in three states (NY, NJ, and PA), with many more virtual attendees from as far away as New England, Texas and even a presenter from India! We asked three of the live participants to write about their impressions of the Roadshow: Elaine Jefferson, Sue Krol and Jake Kelly.

Here's what participants said about the event:

"[The Roadshow was] a unique opportunity to network while we viewed and heard about the entrants and entry winners from last year!"

"Interesting to hear the presenters report on the strategies used when approaching their assignments,

the feedback they received, and how that influenced them and the document's evolution or plans for the future."

“Immense value hearing from winners!” 

“I enjoyed seeing winners locally on laptops. I enjoyed the 6 presenters and seeing their entries.”

The indicators strongly point to a repeat of the TechComm RoadShow next year. See you there! 

Well Organized and Inspiring Event By Sue Krol, NY Metro chapter

Much as I love NY, since I live and work in NJ, I was grateful to attend a Metro chapter event without having to factor in the extra travel time. I attended the Winners Roadshow at Medidata in Edison, NJ. We had a lively group, and our hosts, Kamala Raghunath and Nitza Hauser, did a great job of making us comfortable with refreshments, a warm welcome, and an open atmosphere for discussion.

Competition Roadshow 2012 - Photos

As the lone technical communicator at my job, I looked forward to this opportunity to explore the work of my peers, especially at this venue, where all works were winners. The evening did not disappoint. We had plenty of time to peruse the available hard copies as well as those online (the latter viewed using laptops provided by our hosts). To top it all off, the live broadcast portion of the meeting brought us the thoughts of some of those behind the winning entries. In presentations by a handful of the authors, they shed light on their considerations at the beginning of each project, and spoke about what they learned from the feedback they got from the STC members who evaluated their entries. Even those top producers felt they’d learned something from their participation in the competitions, and they discussed how they might further refine their approaches or revise their works going forward.

While all the winning entries were impressive, I’d love to buy my own copy of The Best of Show winner, but it doesn’t appear to be available online: The Road to Financial Wellness Workbook, by Emily Serna and Donna Goodwin, PriceWaterhouse! And to mention just one of the five Distinguished Award winners, Epson Artisan 837 User’s Guides, by Nancy Thompson, Laura Goglia, Don Kim, was another personal favorite. Its clean, clear illustrations, beautiful layout, and elegant writing inspired me to continue striving toward those achievements in my own work. I challenge you to get involved in the STC competitions by submitting your work in exchange for the invaluable feedback you’ll receive. And you, too, can participate in evaluating the entries for this year’s awards. Hurry and sign up!

Perspectives from Philadelphia by Jake Kelly, PMC chapter

The TechComm Winners' Roadshow provided Philadelphia Metro STC members the opportunities to evaluate the 2011 regional winning entries and to hear from a panel of winning authors.

Competition Roadshow 2012 - takeaways

Philadelphia participants contributed to the event. STC Philadelphia Metro chapter president Steve Adler joined in introducing the presentations, and later displayed his own winning entry. STC Associate Fellow Donn DeBoard, acting as Philadelphia on-site host, discussed the legacy of Vertex participation and recognition in STC competitions over the past 17 years.
Adler was pleased by the turnout and the discussion. “It was impressive that we had close to 50 attendees,” he said. “The winning entries highlighted the breadth of our field. It was interesting to learn about the problems that the writers were trying to solve, as well as the obstacles they had to overcome in coming up with innovative solutions.”

DeBoard, himself a frequent past competitor, judge, and award winner, supported the pre-competition event as not only a showcase of winning entries, but also as a way to highlight the value of this work. “It's important to show those who may minimize the value of technical communication what high quality, innovative entries look like,” he said. “These entries illustrate how content connects with people to fulfill a need.”

Some of that value, he believes, is reflected in the example that the winning entries set for new communicators. “It's important to show examples of distinguished works of technical communications to help inspire those who are new to the field,” he said, “to spur their imagination and creativity. In this way, the next generation of technical communicators begins to teach the current generation.”

The Roadshow also provided Philadelphia members the chance to socialize and share ideas across a wider geographic region. Adler felt that this was worth the complexity of the setup and showed how the PMC and New York Metro chapters could collaborate. “Even though the event was split between multiple locations, it felt that we were all actively participating as one large group,” he said. DeBoard likes to leverage the opportunities, which he believes are central to the profession. “I always come away with some new ideas or fresh perspectives,” he said. “Ultimately STC, for me, is about people and relationships. I enjoyed connecting with old friends and meeting new folks.”

A Life Changing Professional Event by Elaine Jefferson, NY Metro chapter

The winners of the 2012 TechComm Roadshow international competition, in an extraordinary mix of stories by prized Technical Communicators and the presentation of their award winning publications, changed my professional view about achieving my personal best.

The impact from attending this event forever changed the way I view my vexed creative journey to deliver my personal best. The experience put me at ease about my internal struggles as a writer and showed me I am not alone in my turmoil to create and deliver the best of my ability. After hearing Harold Fernandes share his story about how he methodically researched and analyzed over 40 publications to create his Avaya Aura Messaging Quick Reference is a testimony to professional dedication and persistence. When viewing the online copy of The Road to Financial Wellness Workbook by Donna Goodwin and Emily Serna and hearing their story, I was inspired to look closer at this amazing publication. Holding the Xerox Creative Communications Group publication package - feeling the fine quality of the work in my hands, seeing the vibrant and crisp illustrations and witnessing the power of well designed white space and color – the experience raised the bar for my “personal best”.

I’m a changed Technical Communicator after attending in this awe-inspiring event. Now I must step out of my comfort zone and submit my best professional work to see how it measures up.
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