Manager’s Report from Marcia Shannon — Q2 and Q3 2020

Q2 2020

What a complicated three months this second quarter has been. The effects of the pandemic and the measures taken to slow the spread of COVID-19 have been rough on many of us. I hope you are safe and well along with your family and friends. It’s a relief to focus on tech comm for a short while to share what has been happening in the IDL SIG.

A major highlight of this time was our own Jamye Sagan’s elevation to STC Associate Fellow. Congratulations, Jamye, you are always one of IDL’s bedrock supporters.

Despite the loss of our annual get together, STC’s first-ever virtual Summit was a very successful event. As a first time presenter, I learned how to prepare a webinar for broadcast, which was a useful experience. More importantly, the Summit sessions went well, with few delivery glitches. Attendees were enthusiastic participants in the chat windows, an unanticipated bonus of the venue. Seeing and interacting with that feedback enlivened the recorded sessions so much more than just listening to a playback does. As always, Summit had depth, variety, and lots of useful information. I definitely missed the face-to-face excitement of putting names to faces from past webinars, but most folks were not shy about being on camera during breaks. You can have a satisfying networking experience virtually.

I attended the opening and closing remarks, several networking events and fifteen sessions. The bonus of the entire Summit recordings being available through August 31 means that I can watch almost all of the 90+ sessions. If you did not attend Summit, I do recommend registering at the after-Summit discounted price. Everything you want to know about the content is available on the STC website here:

Are you curious about CPTC requirements at the foundation or practitioner level? There’s a session about that. There are sessions about DITA, Agile, Adobe, content delivery and maintenance.  Are you looking for career advice? Here are a dozen sessions about working in tech comm.

  • Advance Your Career Through Personal Branding
  • Bias and Your Job Search
  • Business Essentials: The Five Facts Every Professional Should Know about the Technical Communication Business
  • Four Secrets to a Killer Résumé
  • How Getting Away From Your Desk Can Help You Grow Your Career
  • In the Middle: Managing Middle Careers in an Era of Disruption
  • Independent Consulting 101 – Going Out on Your Own
  • The Technical Communicator as a Generalist
  • The Times They Are a'Changin'
  • Volunteering to Advance Your Career (STC)
  • Your Future Career with Tools and Technology: Tools and Technology Panel Discussion

My favorite sessions covered a wide range of topics. They brought a fresh perspective of technical communication. I learned something immediately useful. Here’s a list of my favorite sessions.

  • Navigating Tech Comm with Geoffrey Chaucer by Brigid Brockway
    More than a history lesson, this showed the deep roots, almost proto-tech comm practices that still influence TC today. Brigid brought humor and erudition to this.
  • How My Cats Helped Me Quickly Develop Training Materials by Jamye Sagan
    Jayme’s presentation brings high-level theory into our everyday circumstances.
  • How to Hack Repetitive Publicity Tasks and Get Your Life Back! by Liz Fraley
    This was my jaw-dropping, light bulb moment. I am very shy with all social media, a stumbling block for a freelance tech commer. Liz shows us how to get control of using social media for business.
  • Running with the Bulls: PM the PMs and live to tell about it by Viqui Dill
    Viqui addressed the well-known problem of shoe horning tech comm into project planning, despite project manager’s notorious resistance to it.
  • The Art of Interviewing SME's and Tech Comm Celebrities by Nicky Bleiel
    Nicky shared techniques and approaches for coaxing information out of and fostering cooperation from subject matter experts. I found it very helpful.
  • The Future Workforce Is Here – Now What? by Tana Session
    Like finding out about personality types, Tana showed how being aware of generational hallmarks can help us communicate more effectively in and out of our work places. I did not agree completely with all of the cohort descriptions, but they are useful for targeting an approach to any given group.
  • Now I Get It: Three Strategies for Effectively Sharing Scientific Research by Jennifer Goode
    Boiling down thousands of words of detail into eye-catching informative flyers or wall posters can be difficult. Jennifer shared several clever and useful poster strategies to succeed.

Just before Summit, STC and the CAC (Community Affairs Committee) announced a change to the structure of Special Interest Groups. When membership season begins September 1, every special interest group will become a “community of interest” or “community of practice”.  The SIG leadership teams with CAC’s guidance are transitioning to this new titling now. This is more than a title change. The designation is based on the structure and mission of the group.

Communities of interest will be based in Slack, each with its own channel and a volunteer facilitator to guide the content. They will be discussion groups although no bounds have been set on what or how they do that. All STC members will have membership in all communities of interest as part of their dues.

Communities of practice will be topic-specific. Examples of current SIGs transitioning to COP are Instructional Design and Learning, Technical Editing, and Policies and Procedures. COPs will be able to choose to maintain websites, have an elected volunteer leadership team, present webinars, run competitions. They will also have a channel on the STC-sponsored Slack group. They will be supported by the usual $10 fee per COP collected at renewal or when joining or when a member decides to join a COP outside of those actions.

In order to maintain IDL’s COP status and to keep doing everything we are doing now, we need volunteers. In particular, we need someone or several someones to handle that Slack channel as well as to take over Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn. Can you help?

Speaking of volunteers, we need help from all IDL members with education ties, both students and educators.  The complications from pandemic-driven distance learning makes it difficult to publicize our Student Outreach competition. Please share the SO brochure with your students and other educators:

We will be busy in third quarter with programs, leadership team elections and planning our annual open house. Keep up with us via social media and the website. It’s about to be busy season again. Stay safe, stay well.

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