Manager’s Report Second Quarter 2019

By: Marcia Shannon, IDL SIG Manager

Thoughts about Summit 2019

I am finally back in the groove after the Summit trip. During those recovery days, I was composing this article. Other attendees have written articles that review specific sessions. I am addressing, no, celebrating the power of connecting face to face with other technical communications professionals across industries, gender, age, experience, and schooling.

This was my fifth Summit. I discovered STC late in my career, but the eight years I have been a member have been the best. Why do I attend Summit? To gather with my “tribe” and to meet and socialize with the leaders and experts in our field. Summit was an intense learning opportunity and an intense social experience.

I had conversations that challenged my ideas and conversations where I could offer information. I attended sessions that filled gaps in my knowledge and led me to explore new ways to work. It was inspiring to be there to applaud the accomplishments of the achievers, who set us an example of “just do it.” It was energizing to explore the latest tech comm tools from major providers, such as Adobe and TechSmith.

During Summit breaks, we talked about all things tech comm without having to explain our passion to non-tech-comm colleagues. Making connections at Summit pushed me out of the job-created “lone writer” box. My strongest takeaway were the people who talked to me and listened to me, who validated my place as a tech comm professional.

A substantial number of speakers are members of this SIG. Throughout the next several months, Summit 2019 speakers will be invited to present their sessions to the IDL membership. Watch for the announcements and take advantage of this opportunity to hear these strong, articulate speakers.

It is not too early to begin planning to attend Summit 2020 in Bellevue, Washington. If your employer allocates funds for training, start building your case to use those funds for Summit. If, like me, you are an independent contractor, figure out how to work out a budget that includes saving for Summit. However you can make it happen, I believe you will find it worth your time and your money.

Marcia Shannon
Marcia Shannon

Marcia Shannon was assistant co-manager for the SIG in 2018, and transitioned to co-manager in 2019.

We had a blast at #Conduit19

By Viqui Dill, IDL SIG Programs lead

On April 5 and 6, the STC Philadelphia Metro chapter held their annual Conduit regional conference at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. IDL SIG members were well represented, both as attendees and as presenters. I attended on the second day, April 6.

Getting to the conference on time was a challenge. Philadelphia was hosting the 13th Annual Race for Humanity to benefit Camp Can Do. Imagine crossing the street dodging runners in both directions as the race went around the Swann Memorial Fountain adjacent to the Franklin Institute.

Danielle Villegas, IDL SIG member and past president of the STC Philadelphia Metro Chapter (STC-PMC), welcomed attendees and opened the day.

Bernard Aschwanden, representing the event host, Adobe Technical Communication, delivered opening remarks. Using a clever combination of stories and product announcements for Adobe, Aschwanden urged the group to make one to one connections and build one to one relationships using any means possible, even twitter.

Neil Perlin delivered the keynote address, “Preparing for the Unknown.” He reminded the group that our tools have changed, noting that pencils have given way to the typewriter, replaced by the word processor, and now the worldwide web. “Tools are irrelevant,” Perlin stated, and then he quoted Rick Lippincott and said “We explain things.” One takeaway he gave the group was to accept the permanent temporary incompetence that comes with constant learning.

Attendees then broke up to attend their choice of four educational sessions.

IDL member Ed Marsh presented “Adding value as a technical communicator.” Marsh urged the group to document how they add value to the organization. “Newsletters work,” he recommended. Pdfs are a bad way to document because the only analytic available with a pdf is the number of downloads. Pdfs are terrible on mobile devices. Technical communicators should embrace data driven content and use the analytics provided to find out how users write and think. Marsh reminded the group that the number of words is not a measure of success. Success means that the right information is delivered to the right person, at the right time.

Although the topic was out of my comfort zone, I next attended “Negotiation Skills: The Missing Ingredient to Content Career Success” presented by Jack Molisani. He began with an icebreaker and rewarded participants with chocolate if they spoke up. He urged the group to do their homework before the negotiation. Know the success criteria and decide ahead of time when to break off the negotiation and walk away. Whenever possible, let the other side make the opening offer. Handle objections with historical data. Molisani then had the group do an exercise negotiating for a lawn care agreement. Each of the groups reported how the negotiations went, what went well, and what did not go well. He then wrapped up with reminding us that negotiating is an art, and that we should find and negotiate with “your people.”

The groups then came together for an amazing lunch provided by the Franklin Institute. Members of the IDL SIG took a moment to get a group photo. Ed Marsh, Laurie Marshall, Cindy Pao, Viqui Dill, Tim Esposito, Todd DeLuca, and Jim Bousquet represented our SIG at the conference.

After lunch, attendees again broke up to attend their choice of four sessions.

Steven Jong presented “Working and Writing across the Generations” explaining how different generations think and communicate differently. Millennials are now the largest generational group and Jong urged attendees to learn how to reach them with mobile-friendly content that is diverse, visual, and embedded.

For the last session of the day, I presented “#PowerOfStory – The cultural program that got me clicks” to a bright and engaged group. I encouraged attendees to speak up by giving them miniature rubber ducks in fun costumes, reinforcing the storytelling theme. 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. I explained 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.

The groups then came together for the closing session and door prizes. I was lucky enough to win a book of my choice, picking “The Language of Content Strategy” by Scott Abel and Rahel Anne Bailie.

After the conference, attendees gathered at the Kite and Key gastro pub for continued networking and collaboration.

Regional conferences like Conduit, InterChange, and Spectrum are a great benefit of STC membership. Shorter and less expensive than the big international Summit conference, regional conferences often feature some of the same speakers and topics. Smaller conferences make it easy to recognize faces and learn names, leading to better networking. The Conduit conference is an annual event and I urge you to make plans to attend in 2020.

From the editor – Q1 2019

By: Kelly Smith

Happy spring! And welcome to the first newsletter of 2019. We have a great lineup this quarter with contributions from several new people, so let’s get started!

Survey’s manager Jamye Sagan has compiled the results of the IDL SIG demographic survey, conducted in December 2018. Ten percent (60 of our 558 members) took part in the survey. The report gives us details about our members, their involvement in the SIG and other organizations, and their experiences at Summit 2018.

Our new Co-manager Marcia Shannon wrote about her experience taking on this new role and volunteering for the SIG in general. She also points out that she can’t be “co” manager without another co-manager, so if you’d like to volunteer to help lead our SIG, please contact Marcia!

Marcia also provided an update on the US Department of Labor’s O*NET Data Collection Program. If you volunteered to take part, you may have already heard from them.

Programs manager, Viqui Dill has two articles for us this time. The first announces new Fellows and Associate Fellows from our SIG.

The second is a list of several Summit sessions that might be of interest to members of the IDL SIG. Check it out! And if you are coming to Summit, don't forget to register for our SIG lunch and business meeting before May 5. We can't wait to see you!

Student Outreach manager, Sylvia Miller, has collected 12 articles from students on various ID-related topics. This quarter, we are publishing four of them. Congratulations to the winners, and look for four more articles in next quarter’s newsletter!

We welcome introductions from new members and this quarter, new member George Abraham contributed his biography for us. If you’d like to introduce yourself to the SIG, please send your bio and an appropriate photo to me.

And finally, STC Fellow David Dick contributed an article on Communication Information in Government Proposals.

If you have an article related to any aspect of instructional design, please send it to We welcome submissions from all our members and would especially like to see book reviews and bios of new members. The deadline for our Q2 issue is May 4, 2019.

Newsletter editor - Kelly Smith
Newsletter editor - Kelly Smith

Kelly Smith has been Managing Editor of the IDeaL newsletter since May 2018. She also serves as membership manager for her local chapter – STC Southeast Michigan. Kelly works as Senior Technical Writer at Dart Container in mid-Michigan and has been active in the STC since 2015.

#STC19 IDL Summit Sessions

Compiled by Viqui Dill, programs manager for the STC IDL SIG

Going to the Summit? Wondering what to see and do? Let us help you out!

Here is a list of sessions that may be of interest, chosen because the session is about instructional design and learning, presented by a SIG member, or of general interest to technical communicators. See the complete list of sessions on the Summit website.

First of all, we’re having our annual business meeting, with lunch and networking again.

IDL SIG Honest-to-Goodness Face-to-Face Business Meeting & Lunch Buffet 2019

Tuesday, May 7, 2019 at 11:15 AM – 12:45 PM MDT

Register on Eventbrite before May 5.

CPTC Preparation Training Course with Exam

Alan Houser & Jamie Gillenwater, IDL SIG members

Saturday, 4 May | 8:30 AM-4:30 PM | Quartz AB

Sunday, 5 May | 8:30 AM-5:00 PM | Quartz AB

Leadership Program

Sunday, 5 May | 8:00 AM-Noon | Mineral FG

Information Design Essentials

Saul Carliner

8:00 AM-Noon | Granite C

Opening General Session, Welcome Reception, and Expo Hall Open

Sunday, 5 May | 5:00-7:30 PM | Centennial Ballroom

Mastering Your Website 101

Timothy Esposito, IDL SIG member

Monday, 6 May | 8:00-8:45 AM

Leadership Opportunities Are Closer Than They Appear

Sara Feldman and Ben Woelk, IDL SIG member

Monday, 6 May | 8:00-8:45 AM

Meet the Editors

Andrea Ames and Sam Dragga

Monday, 6 May | 9:00-9:45 AM

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

Jamye Sagan, IDL SIG member

Monday, 6 May | 9:00-9:45 AM

xAPI: Geek Free Introduction for Instructional Designers

Megan Torrance

Monday, 6 May | 2:00-2:45 PM

Annual Business Meeting

Monday, 6 May | 5:00 – 6:00 PM | Centennial Ballroom

The Human Touch: Bringing Instructor Presence into eLearning Environments

Julia Cho

Tuesday, 7 May | 8:00-8:45 AM

eLearning: Creating Virtual Reality Projects with Adobe Captivate

Kevin Siegel

Tuesday, 7 May | 9:00-9:45 AM

#PowerOfStory - The Cultural Program that Got Me Clicks

Viqui Dill, IDL SIG member

Tuesday, 7 May | 9:00-9:45 AM

A Tale of Two Podcasts: From Concept to Reality

Allie Proff and Ben Woelk, IDL SIG member

Tuesday, 7 May | 10:00-11:00 AM

Topic-Based Authoring for Training

Sandra Wheeler

Tuesday, 7 May | 10:00-11:00 AM

Innovations in Tech Comm Curricula for College Programs

Russel Hirst, Craig Baehr, and Beth Agnew, IDL SIG member

Tuesday, 7 May | 10:00-11:00 AM

Engineering Better Training Experiences through Innovative Presentation Techniques and Technologies

Chuck Campbell, IDL SIG member

Tuesday, 7 May | 1:00-1:45 PM

Just-In-Time (JIT) Training

Aaron Murray

Tuesday, 7 May | 2:00-2:45 PM

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

Kit Brown-Hoekstra, IDL SIG member

Tuesday, 7 May | 4:00-4:45 PM

Honors Reception

Tuesday, 7 May | 5:15-6:45 PM | Centennial Ballroom

Education Plenary Session

Saul Carliner, Ginny Reddish, and Karen Schriver

Wednesday, 8 May | 8:00-11:00 AM | Centennial A-C