InterChange 2018

By Viqui Dill

On October 26 and 27, the New England chapter held their annual InterChange regional conference at the UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center in Lowell, Massachusetts. IDL SIG members were well represented, both as attendees and as presenters.  

This year's theme was “Engineering Experiences”. The conference website explains, “Technical communicators have always crafted stories and experiences for users using their words and technical expertise. As technology evolves, the need to craft effective and engaging experiences is more important than ever.”

Danielle Villegas, IDL SIG member and president of the STC Philadelphia Metro Chapter (STC-PMC), delivered the keynote, “What is Experience to a Technical Communicator?” Villegas shared several examples of content that was focused on user experience in popular culture, television ("The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel"), advertising (Sandals, Royal Caribbean), restaurants (Japanese steakhouses), technical manuals (Porsche) and even Ikea stores. She explained why each was effective and urged us look for opportunities to create experiences in our own deliverables.

Kelly Schrank, IDL SIG member and president of the STC Rochester chapter, delivered a session about “Engineering Your Networking Experiences” on Friday. Schrank gave tips about getting the most out of networking at conferences and other technical communications gatherings before, during, and after the event. She reassured the group that these events are not just about passive learning but are also great opportunities to make connections with other professionals. Schrank dispelled many myths about networking, including “some people like networking” and “some people are naturally good at it” and gave us actionable tips for setting goals, starting conversations, and remembering names.

Cindy Currie, STC past president (2009-2010), presented “Press Play! The Power of Personal Energy Management” and urged attendees to care for themselves physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Currie gave us five steps to personal wellness: boost energy; make a list, not a schedule; evaluate energy levels; set priorities; and be flexible.

Liz Fraley presented “Getting the Most out of TC Camp (or any Other Volunteer-driven Event)”, sharing the story of TC Camp and the TC Dojo, sharing tips on working with volunteers.

Viqui Dill (that’s me) presented “#PowerOfStory - The Cultural Program That got me Clicks” to close out the educational sessions on Friday. You can see my slides online and let me know what you think.    

Lou Prosperi presented two sessions about Imagineering. Session 1 was “Imagineering and Technical Communication: A Match Made in Disneyland” and introduced the Imagineering Pyramid. Session 2 was “Designing Your Experience the Walt Disney World Way” based on the Imagineering Process. Read his post about the event on his blog, The Imagineering Toolbox.

Liz Fraley presented again, this time delivering “The Future is Decided by Your Actions Today”. Fraley encouraged us to adapt to change, rather than waiting to be forced. Her presentation included tips for how to ask questions, listen, research, and think. She suggested adding the job description “TechComm Psychic” to our skillset.

Steven Jong, President of the New England chapter, presented again about generational differences in his “Writing and Working Across the Generations” session. Jong introduced us to the population pyramid and gave tips for engaging Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials. See his slides and reference links on SlideShare.

Chuck Campbell, IDL SIG member and frequent conference speaker, presented “Engineering Better Training Experiences through Innovative Presentation Techniques and Technologies”. Campbell gave us a fresh look at PowerPoint presentations, showed us how to leverage simple animation techniques, and gave a demonstration of the Ipevo interactive whiteboard system.

Bernard Aschwanden, STC past president (2015-2016), presented “Create Once. Publish Many.” and took us through a live demonstration of interactive content strategy, development, and publishing.

After the conference, I went to dinner with fellow attendees Donna Riedman, Chuck Campbell, Kelly Schrank, Bernard Aschwanden, and my son Jim Dill.  The next day, Jim and I took a side trip to Maine. We look forward to attending InterChange every year. 

Congratulations on a great conference to all the planners and volunteers in the New England chapter.

See all the tweets from the conference under the hashtag #InterChange2018 and make plans to attend the next time in 2019.

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