By: Alex Garcia
(Orlando Central) Florida Chapter, STC
Hello and welcome to another exciting President’s Corner.
Well, the confetti has fallen and the vendor booths have been packed up; the 2017 STC Summit is a wrap, folks! What does that mean for Orlando Central Florida Chapter of STC? The countdown is officially on to the 65th Annual STC Summit in Orlando, FL on May 20-23, 2018! Chapter Vice-President, David Coe, had the privilege of attending this year’s Summit and representing the Orlando Central Florida Chapter. We would like to thank his employer (Riptide Software) for making this trip possible. I had a chance to catch up with David as the Summit was wrapping up:
Alex Garcia (AG): Welcome back from the 64th annual STC Summit. I believe this was your first. Overall, what was your impression of the conference?
David Coe (DC): I am glad to be back, even though I did enjoy the cooler weather in DC. Yes, it was my first summit. The venue is beautiful and elegant and the ballrooms for the expo and education sessions were arranged simply, which kept navigation issues to a minimum for most attendees.
AG: How was the organization of the content and the programs? Were there any topics that you missed because they were scheduled at the same time as others?
DC: Most of the ballrooms for the expo and education sessions were arranged along an “L” shape hallway, which kept navigation from one session to another quite simple. There were some sessions that I was interested in that were scheduled in the same time slot where I had to choose which one to attend. Then there were other sessions in different time slots that were essentially the same, which resulted in missing other new sessions I could have attended. I think most sessions were scheduled well-enough that an attendees did not run into overlaps and missed opportunities, although they did exist. I would suggest a more thorough review of sessions to avoid overlaps and missed opportunities.
AG: Did you attend any STC organizational meetings, such as leadership day, the business meeting, or board meetings? Any insights on the health of the Society (that you are able to share)?
DC: I did attend the leadership program (was only half day), annual business meeting, and board meeting. All sessions were interesting.
On Sunday, the leadership program had an interesting topic using firemen leadership paradigms for discussion.
On Monday evening, the annual business meeting was presided over by the 2016-2017 STC Board of Directors. About 100 members were in attendance. Attendees were given a red placard to vote on motions from the floor. Before motions were taken from the floor, there were several reports. While the budget appears strong, it is much lower than I had anticipated due to low membership. On a financial good note, STC was able to reduce their deficits/liabilities by 78.25% over the past three years, which is a significant gain. There were several motions; some were carried and most were not.
I participated in one motion where I argued against it. The motion is to have STC pay for one member from each chapter to attend the upcoming STC Summit to help encourage and support chapter inclusion in STC events. While I love the idea, it is not fiscally responsible, nor is it feasible for STC to support as the motion was put forward. I based my argument on past experience on boards with approving large expenditures last minute with no study with disastrous results and, more importantly, based on the STC financial report given earlier. I did argue that STC does need to find viable alternatives to have STC chapter representatives attend, like a virtual conference or steeply discounted rates. The motion did not carry.
Final act was to transition to the new 2017-2018 Board.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Board meeting was presided by the 2017-2018 Board and was fairly typical for an incoming Board, with the President giving her views, visions, and expectations going forward. There were only three members in the audience. I was able to provide some input in regards to their scholarship and student membership initiatives that will be starting over the next year. Ben Woelk is the new Scholarship Committee chair (new committee).
AG: 2018 marks Summit #65. How excited is the Society about coming to Orlando next year for this milestone? What type of promotion did you see in D.C.?
DC: There was a table in the expo and there were several signs throughout the halls for next year’s event. At the table in the expo ballroom, there were several pamphlets from Orlando travel bureaus touting all the places and activities to do in Central Florida. There were several mentions in closing for the 2018 Summit.
During the 2017-2018 Board meeting, it was discussed the 2018 Summit is a milestone year (65th) and there are tentative plans to create new logos and themes to celebrate. The Orlando Central Florida chapter needs to pay attention and to try to be part of those plans.
AG: Now that you’ve experienced your first Summit, what kind of advice would you give to Orlando Central Florida Chapter members and friends who will attend the Summit next year?
DC: As a future attendee, I think the Summit is worth attending. It is really a good opportunity to meet like-minded professionals while enjoying the education sessions, expo, and fun activities. You also get to meet the Board of Directors who have been very approachable, and renowned gurus and celebrities in the TC world.
If financially feasible, attendees should consider taking the CPTC Foundation class and exam to get certified. The certification is new and it will need to gain maturity but it is a good opportunity to get this certification early in the program. STC is looking to grow this and I think it will be worthwhile in the long run to have it on your resume.
As the Orlando chapter host, we need to find out how well STC supported the Washington DC-Baltimore Chapter, which did a wonderful job. While I am sure they provided a variety of support throughout the Summit, their main event was the After Party on Tuesday night after the Awards ceremony. Hot and cold hors d’oeuvres with a cash bar were served during the Awards ceremony and After Party. Live music was played by “The Rough Drafts” band, which is comprised of all technical communicator band members. They did a wonderful job. There was karaoke later in the evening, but I did not attend.
We will need to brainstorm and implement ideas in how we can make a positive impact on attendees during their stay in Orlando.
AG: Word Association (first word that comes to your mind):
64th STC Summit: Classy and Organized (couldn’t narrow it to one word)
Gaylord Palms National Harbor: Spledid
Washington D.C.: National Harbor: Beautiful
Adobe Connect: Promising
65th STC Summit: Exciting
Orlando Hyatt Regency (Peabody): Classy
DITA: Popular (but not always the best solution)
AG: Thank you for representing Orlando Central Florida Chapter STC at the Summit this year. Any parting words?
DC: I had a wonderful time and I thank my employer, Riptide Software, in supporting this venture. The STC Board, members, staff, volunteers, and Gaylord staff were approachable, welcoming, and supportive.
The expo/vendor selection were smaller than I expected but I have attended massive expos in the past and it is unfair to compare. With that said, many of the tools and complementing software and other services were well represented.
Most the education sessions were tools-agnostic applicable to most writing workshops. I personally would have liked a few more technical offerings, but with only 50 minutes to present, that may be wishful thinking. But for the paid half-day education sessions, there should have been more technical offerings.
Save your pennies if you plan to stay at the resort and attend dinner and other on-site activities. While it may not be as expensive as Washington DC, it will be costly; plan accordingly.
Get excited that the STC Summit is coming to Orlando! It will be worth attending!
Until next month,