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STC Summit through a Speaker’s Eyes
2013, Q2 (July 11, 2013)
By Jamie Gillenwater, Carolina Chapter Member

Jamie Gillenwater
Jamie Gillenwater
Before this year, I attended three STC Summits. Each year, I knew what to expect: good sessions, networking, vendor exhibits, and updates about the Society. And I still got each of those at the 2013 Summit as a speaker, but I also found more opportunities.

My session was late Tuesday morning, halfway through the Summit. Because I knew my topic, I listened closely for ideas from speakers before my session. And after my session, I heard several ideas that confirmed what I shared.

When I had free time between sessions and meetings, I spent time reviewing and tweaking my slides. Although I had practiced in advance, I did try to slip in another practice session just before my presentation.
This is a commitment, so make sure that you have the time and are willing to spend it to give conference attendees the best bang for their buck.

My session had about 70 attendees, enough that the room didn’t feel empty, but not so many that the room was packed to the degree it would make me nervous. I started my presentation with a question for the audience, which engaged many members. I went through background information, then jumped into demonstrations. My presentation didn’t fill the entire session, but that left time for questions and discussions as a group, as well as one-on-one questions during the scheduled session timeslot.

The most difficult part of presenting is the feedback. I received many positive comments immediately following the session, but knew I really hit home when several session attendees stopped me in the halls between sessions to ask questions or discuss their own experiences. Of course, I am anxiously awaiting my formal evaluations.
STC Summit

Was it a lot of work? Yes.

As a speaker, you put in many extra hours. You develop a proposal. Then you write your proceedings. Then you design your presentation. You practice, practice, practice. Then you tweak it all.

Was the experience worth it? Absolutely.

But as a speaker, people have a reason to speak to you who wouldn’t speak to you otherwise. Your network grows. And you establish yourself as an expert in a small part of the expansive technical communications field.

Should you submit a proposal to speak at the 2014 Summit? Maybe.

Do you have speaking experience?
If so, consider a topic about which you are passionate. Use a topic that you’ve presented before and feel comfortable with.

If not, consider speaking with various groups, including the STC Carolina chapter and STC SIGs. Often, program managers are seeking fresh voices and ideas. You can also register on Tech Comm Speakers Bureau to get exposure to new audiences.

Do you know a subject that can help other technical communicators?
Consider not only what you know, but also what others might need to know. For example, did your company just implement a new content management system or another tool to help their business process? What challenges did you face? How did you overcome roadblocks? What positive results have you seen?

Sharing your real-world experience could help another technical communicator complete a business proposal in their workplace.

Do you have the time to commit to the presentation?
You will spend many hours working on your proposal, your conference proceedings paper, and your actual presentation. This is a commitment, so make sure that you have the time and are willing to spend it to give conference attendees the best bang for their buck.

Also, make sure you are planning to attend the entire Summit.

If you are considering speaking at the STC Summit or another conference, go for it. It is a worthwhile experience, and you are helping others in field grow.

Jamie can be reached at jamie dot gillenwater at gmail dot com. End of article.

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