So, you are going to attend the STC Summit (The annual STC Summit, in the “Valley of the Sun,” this May.). Great! Now let me ask you a question: Do you decide which sessions you want to attend ahead of time, or do you wing it when you get there? You will glean a vast amount of information no matter which plan of attack you take. However, if you have a written plan, you’ll be a lot more productive and have a lot less stress!
When you plan your schedule, consider attending these important events.
- Pre- and Post-Workshops
- Leadership Day
- Opening and Closing Ceremonies
- Annual Business Meeting
- Chapter Receptions
- SIG breakfast or lunches
- Honors Banquet
Try to get to the hotel before the Summit starts so you can walk around and get a lay of the land. Oh, and don’t forget to visit the vendors to pick up their information, treasures, and candy. If you have colleagues back at the office holding down the fort, this is an opportunity to load up your bag with souvenirs to give them when you get back home.
Now let’s get to the sessions and how you can best mine for nuggets and bring home the gold!
Select the Sessions With The Biggest Payback
It doesn’t matter if you are the only writer — or part of a huge writing team — follow these steps to get the most out of the Summit. Oh, by the way, involve everyone on your team in selecting the sessions, not just those who are attending the Summit.
- Select sessions that will benefit your team’s goals and your company’s strategies. These are “musts”.
- Select sessions for your professional development. These are “wants”.
- Meet with your team to share the selected sessions and determine which ones to attend. Here is where you need to know how many people are attending from your company.
- Create a table mapping your “musts”, “wants”, and session times. We all know that Tech Writers are able to leap over tall buildings in a single bound, but we can’t be in two places at the same time (although sometimes we try)! The table will quickly show you where there is more than one session selected for the same time. Plus it will show you where there are open timeslots to fill. To cover as many sessions as possible, be sure two people from your team don’t attend the same session.
Helpful Hint: Before you leave for the Summit, build a list of people and their contact information so you can connect with them at the Summit —- especially if you want to make plans for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!
Organize the Report
What report, you say? If you want to share your newfound nugget knowledge with colleagues, or reinforce to your boss that sending you to the Summit was a wise investment, then you should write a report!
You can write your report in Word, a Wiki, or whatever. It doesn’t matter. However, here’s a suggestion … You can get a lot of the report writing done before leaving for the Summit. Here’s how.
- Create a template for the report.
- Fill in the front matter about the Summit from Society’s Web pages.
- Create a Contents page with links to each session (presented in alpha order, natch)
- Create a page for each session’s report. Here’s where each person can fill in pages containing the session title, category, presenter(s), and summary before leaving for the Summit. After attending the sessions, fill in the notes and ideas to bring back.
- Create an Ideas page.
- Create a Summary page.
There you have it … your report outline!
Write your report as soon as you get back home. Heck, you might want to write drafts at the end of each day while you are unwinding in your hotel room. The important thing is to write your report within 2 weeks of attending the Summit. Treat your Summit Report with a sense of urgency because your colleagues and boss are waiting to find out what nuggets of information you brought back to them.
Market Your Value
After you write your report, there is one more thing you absolutely must do! At the end of your report, include a section titled Ideas. These ideas will show the ROI for attending the Summit. Some of the ideas might be fodder for you to purchase software, attend training, create (or fix) a process, or plan to attend the 2015 Summit!
Send your Summit Report draft to others on your team, or to a couple of STC colleagues, before you distribute it. Ask an editor to review the entire package. When many people add information to a document, the information flow might need tweaking and an editor will ensure the report is consistent and has “one voice.”
As soon as your report is ready, send it to all the stakeholders in your work relationships. Be sure to copy the highest ranking person at your company — especially if he or she has the final signature on your review and approves your budget. By mining for these information nuggets and bringing back the gold, you should get budget approval to attend next year’s Summit!
Go forth, gather your nuggets, and bring home the gold!