August, September, and October Meeting Recaps

Nick Ducharme

By: Nick Ducharme
Vice President
Florida Chapter, STC

“STC Florida Seeking Virtual Panelist!” was the subject line of one of our email blasts complete with a megaphone emoji and all.

Something really cool was about to occur, which was saying something. I mean, this was going to be our third presentation of the year after we’d already had two total knockout presentations to start off the chapter year! In total, we had:

All of these meetings were revolutionary for our chapter, thanks in part to some minor tweaks in our virtual technology and in-person networking spaces—as well as enhanced focus on the experiences of virtual attendees. We began to designate an online moderator for each meeting, which helped us seamlessly incorporate the lively chat box discussion into all audience feedback and Q&A activities. Plus, all meeting topics this past year were selected based on feedback from this summer’s chapter survey, because your voice matters to us!

August 2018

In Kirk’s August presentation, he balanced compelling cognitive science about cognitive load and sequencing with down-to-earth examples about the way we remember tasks in our day-to-day lives. (I will never look at a stop sign quite the same way again.)

Our in-person networking group enjoys a meal at Chuy’s while several online attendees call in for the August meeting.

Bethany Aguad runs the in-person side of the call while we experiment with a portable screen in a restaurant dining room. From online, Emily Wells serves as our first dedicated online moderator while Kirk St.Amant delivers his presentation.

September 2018

In Todd’s September presentation, he took a methodical approach to the topic of virtual teams by first addressing some of the challenges that can arise (such as lower visibility and less clearly defined responsibilities). Then he tackled how we can address these challenges, which resulted in some lively Q&A from the audience. I had the pleasure of serving as online moderator, and I sincerely appreciate the high level of activity we had in the chat box!

Our in-person networking group gathers at Riptide Software to revisit the conference room format for in-person networking.

Todd Deluca presents to our on-site and virtual attendees. Nick Ducharme moderates the online chat from afar.

The August and September presentations were hard acts to follow. To keep our quality standards just as high in October, we decided to continue making chapter history.

 October 2018

A mixed-media panel discussion. It was an ambitious goal that we had never previously attempted. We had our four in-person panelists already locked in, and we technically could have stopped there. Instead, we made the call to reach out for volunteers who would like to serve as a virtual panelist.

The response was overwhelming, and thus overjoying. Every response to our prompt was a wonderful read. We couldn’t pick just one virtual panelist in the end, so we ended up with two.

I led the panel discussion from the on-site location while Bethany Aguad moderated the chat. Topics of discussion included dealing with intimidation, working with subject matter experts who don’t take well to criticism, effective cross-cultural communication with subject matter experts, and more.

Discussion moderator Nick Ducharme (on left) and online chat moderator Bethany Aguad (on screen) address all panelists.
On-site panelists from left to right are Emily Wells, Dan Voss, W.C. Wiese, and Debra Johnson.

Virtual panelist Beth Anne Carr responds to a question.

Virtual panelist Tina Kister responds to a question.

From the Editor’s Desk

Emily Wells

Technical Communicators of Florida and Beyond,

The holiday season is officially upon us, and I’m here to bring you glad tidings along with a mega newsletter! Read on to learn more about our amazing holiday social or visit our Meetup page for more information.

Next, President Bethany Aguad provides our chapter’s 2018 year in review for her final President’s Corner article of the year, as well as providing a recap of last month’s meeting.

In addition, STC Fellows Dan Voss and Mike Murray provide an update on two changes announced earlier this year, the kick-off of the Leadership Development Program (LDP), as well as STC Florida’s new Values, Vision, and Mission Statements.

That’s all from me for now. I hope to see you at the social!

Catch you on the flip side,

Emily Wells
Communications Chair
Editor, Memo To Members

President’s Corner

Bethany Aguad

By: Bethany Aguad
Florida Chapter, STC

Members and Friends of the STC Florida Chapter,

2018 has been a year of exciting opportunities and challenges for the Florida chapter!

From updating our branding to hosting the 2018 Summit, treasured memories abound. Looking back to my first President’s Corner in August, we have accomplished so much since then:

  • Sharing four educational programs in person and online from nationally recognized presenters (Meetups)
  • Conducting five virtual networking meetings connecting with technical communicators across Florida
  • Hosting our first hybrid panel with face-to-face and virtual panelists (How to Make Subject Matter Experts Your Tech Comm Allies)
  • Formalizing our chapter’s commitment to inclusivity (Our Values)

You all worked hard, dedicating your time and energy to the chapter, and I cannot thank you enough! I especially want to thank David Coe and Riptide for graciously providing meeting space this year. We have had several fantastic programs in their conference room while connecting with our online attendees. We are now truly connected statewide, and I have enjoyed the chance to get to know so many of you this year.

Going into next year, I know we have opportunities to build on this year’s achievements. Volunteers are the fuel that powers our chapter’s success! We are seeking members who want to get involved from short-term projects to ongoing committee roles. If you are interested in getting involved, please reach out to me, since I know we all have talents to share.

Happy holidays and have a wonderful new year!

Get Hyped for this Month’s Meeting!

Emily Wells

By: Emily Wells
Newsletter Editor and Communications Committee Chair
Florida Chapter, STC

Happy holidays!

I know you’ve already heard once from me this month, but since I’m super excited about our holiday social, I wanted to invite you once more to join STC Florida at our Holiday Social 2018!

We invite all Technical Communicators, Alumni, and Guests to join us at Bahama Breeze near Waterford Lakes, where we will be gathering to celebrate 2018 and look forward to 2019.

We always have a good time at our holiday social, and it’s a great chance to meet new people and network in a stress-free environment while also sharing some holiday cheer.

For more information or to RSVP, please visit our Meetup page. I hope to see you there!

Values, Vision, and Mission Statements Ratified by Administrative Council

Our Values Provide the Vision to Achieve our Mission

By: Dan Voss and Mike Murray, STC Fellows

Our lighthouse is shining.

Culminating a year-long initiative spearheaded by STC Fellow and chapter historian Mike Murray, the Administrative Council formally approved the chapter’s Values, Vision, and Mission Statements at its December meeting.

The beacon in our community’s lighthouse is fueled by our seven core values:

Our values guide us to safe harbor for all.

  • Caring
  • Education
  • Excellence
  • Inclusivity
  • Teamwork
  • Vision
  • Volunteerism

Collectively, these values guide us safely through the perilous shoals of discord, disunity, and dysfunctionality that can sink any community.

Our summary Values Statement is as follows:

The Florida STC Chapter operates upon seven shared core values: caring for each other and for others, with inclusivity for all, a passion for education, a commitment to excellencethe vision to build for tomorrow, and the teamwork and volunteerism to achieve things today.

A detailed Values Statement with a definition of each core value and an explanation of how it guides our community, along with our Vision and Mission Statements, are provided on our website.

Just like a lighthouse, our Values give us the Vision to safely pursue and achieve our Mission.

Our Vision Statement is:

To develop and enhance the practice of technical communication in Florida by exploring and implementing emerging technologies while still stressing critical core skills—and, in the process, creating and sustaining a cohesive statewide technical communication community.

Our Mission Statement is:

To advance the statewide exchange and application of technical communication expertise through diverse channels, and to demonstrate the business value professional practitioners offer with their core skills and their mastery of emerging communication technologies.

Inclusivity targets diversity in technical communication.

Leadership Development Program Charts Course for the Chapter Year

Kickoff Meeting Builds on Success at Summit 2018

By: Dan Voss and Mike Murray, STC Fellows

The STC Florida Chapter’s innovative Leadership Development Program (LDP), entitled Passing the Torch, kicked off the 2018-2019 chapter year with an organizational meeting at the home of the LDP manager, Mike Murray.

The LDP is a natural extension of our flourishing student mentoring program with tech comm students at the University of Central Florida, co-sponsored by the STC Florida Chapter and the Future Technical Communicators (FTC) student club at UCF.

The Concept

Originally conceived by then chapter president Alex Garcia in 2017, the LDP came to fruition this year under the guidance of STC Fellows Mike Murray and Dan Voss. As detailed in the article “Passing the Torch: Mentorship Program Expands to Include a Creative Leadership Development Program” in the April 2018 MtM, the LDP focused initially on preparation for the 2018 Summit last May, where the four LDP Rising Stars worked with their LDP Coaches to develop and deliver two outstanding presentations and accompanying round-table take-away talks at the Summit.

In fact, chapter Vice President Nick Ducharme made an engaging and informative as one of ten innovative chapter initiatives the Rising Stars presented at Leadership Day at the Summit.

The Basis

The LDP centers on 18 key leadership skills. To pair the Coaches and Rising Stars, Mike and Dan asked the Rising Stars and Coaches to rate themselves on these 18 skills, dividing the skills into three groups of six (areas of strength, areas of satisfactory performance, and areas for growth). They then made the pairings by aligning the Rising Stars’ self-identified leadership growth areas with the Coaches’ strongest leadership skills.

 The Pairings

The LDP pairings for the 2018-2019 pair four of the chapter’s officers with veteran STC community leaders, as follows:

  • President Bethany Aguad is paired with Treasurer and STC Fellow W.C. Wiese
  • Vice President Nick Ducharme is paired with past chapter president and Director-at-Large Debra Johnson.
  • Immediate Past President Alex Garcia is paired with Director-at-Large and STC Fellow Karen Lane.
  • Secretary Crystal Brezina is paired with former Education Committee manager and STC Fellow Dan Voss.

All four Rising Stars are former UCF student members of our chapter and “graduates” of the chapter’s student mentoring program co-sponsored with FTC.

The Kickoff Meeting

At the LDP kickoff meeting for the 2018-19 chapter year, host Mike Murray made the actual “kickoff” with a brief pep talk, including some of the many valuable leadership concepts he set forth in his eye-opening and inspirational Fast-Start Leader’s Guide, published in March and widely disseminated at the 2018 Summit.

“Leaders come in many forms with many styles.” STC Fellow and LDP manager Mike Murray welcomes the LDP Rising Stars and their Coaches to a “kickoff” meeting for the 2018–2019 chapter year.

The Guide is, of course, “required reading” in the LDP—and it has been extremely well received as a resource for STC community leaders nation-wide. If you haven’t read this  valuable work, you will find it both engaging and enlightening. It is posted on our chapter website as part of the extensive community-building electronic resources the Rising Stars made available to all STC communities at their Leadership Day presentation at the Summit.

Following some “light refreshments” that turned into a sumptuous “pot-luck” repast, the four LDP pairs met privately to establish their goals for the Rising Stars’ leadership growth this year in their responsibilities as chapter officers and as young technical communication professionals in the workforce. Over the course of the evening, Mike circulated among the four pairs to offer his guidance and suggestions.

I thought this was going to be ‘light refreshments.” True to form, the LDP Rising Stars and Coaches “over-achieved” as all contributed to a sumptuous pot-luck spread hosted by Mike’s wife Kay.

The Road Ahead

Throughout the year, the Coaches and Rising Stars will communicate regularly via face-to-face meetings, email, texts, telephone, and other media to track the Rising Stars’ progress in achieving the identified leadership growth objectives.

November Meeting Recap

Bethany Aguad

By: Bethany Aguad
Florida Chapter, STC

“Fast, Accessible, Accurate: Choose one!”

Last month, the talented Li-At Rathbun presented “Our Level Best,” where she covered technical editing from levels of edits to how we tackle projects. You have probably seen Li-At’s name before since she teaches the society’s “Technical Editing Foundations” STC online course and is an STC Associate Fellow.

Li-At emphasized how to adapt the levels of edits to meet the needs of your different projects. She also explained the role of technical editors as tech support for writers and advocates for users.

Join us in thanking Li-At for her outstanding presentation!

Our Level Best.

A wonderful turnout, both in person and on-line!

From the Editor’s Desk

Emily Wells

Technical Communicators of Florida and Beyond,

Fall weather is finally starting to hit here in Florida, and along with the chill breezes comes our first in-person monthly meeting (with a virtual attendance option) and the kick-off of the 2018-19 student mentoring program.

Read on as Vice President Nick Ducharme introduces our third meeting of the year, a panel on how to work with subject matter experts (and yours truly is one of the panelists!). For more information and to RSVP, read Nick’s article or visit our Meetup page.

In addition, our trusty treasurer, WC Wiese, presents a breakdown of our active member points program and how you can earn a highly coveted active member shirt. I’m going for my third this year, and I encourage you to join me in earning one of those snazzy polos.

That’s all from me for now. I hope to see you at the meeting!

Catch you on the flip side,

Emily Wells
Communications Chair
Editor, Memo To Members

Get Hyped for this Month’s Meeting!

How to Make Subject Matter Experts Your Tech Comm Allies

Nick Ducharme

By: Nick Ducharme
Vice President
Florida Chapter, STC


Last month’s online turnout for Todd DeLuca’s stellar presentation, Collaborating on Virtual Teams, gave me such a warm and fuzzy feeling as your Vice President. This makes two months in a row that we have drawn a strong virtual presence to our meetings! I also got to experience it first-hand as your online moderator, since at the time I felt a bit under the weather and couldn’t swing the in-person networking option. It was such a relief to have an equally viable/valuable option for attendance—and that’s the key right there. We need attendance to be viable for all, regardless of location and other circumstances. This at the core of our mission for the 2018-2019 chapter year.

But enough about that for now. You’re probably reading this to hear what we’ve got planned for this month.

I suspect some of you, like me, heard a few horror stories about Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) when you were new to the profession. The themes of these cautionary tales are usually the same: “SMEs are incredibly smart and intimidating” or “SMEs are unapproachable.” In the worst cases, “SMEs don’t value us or what we have to offer.” Sometimes, these stories are true. But other times, SMEs can be among your greatest allies in the workplace if you can foster the right working relationship (I have wonderful SMEs in my work circle that I would be devastated to lose.) We’re all just people at the end of the day, and I think it’s important to demystify SMEs as a concept.

So, in accordance with your survey feedback on both meeting modes and meeting topics, we’re offering a panel on How to Make Subject Matter Experts Your Tech Comm Allies! I will be your humble moderator for the discussion, alongside your very talented panelists:

Debra Johnson, Chapter Director-at-Large

W.C. Wiese, Chapter Treasurer

Dan Voss, Chapter Education Chair for many years (up through last year)

Emily Wells, Chapter Communications Chair and your Memo to Members Editor

And on top of these four wonderful panelists, we will also be joined by a surprise virtual panelist, to be revealed at the meeting!

Please click here and RSVP to join us for this exciting panel on How to Make Subject Matter Experts Your Tech Comm Allies. You can either join us virtually or in person. Our panels tend toward lively discussion, so feel free to come prepared with some of your burning questions about SMEs if you like. I hope to talk to you soon!

How You Can Earn Your 2019 Florida Chapter Active Member Shirt

By: W.C. Wiese
Florida Chapter, STC

Want to stand out in our profession? Want to show the boss you’re serious about your job? This’ll do it.

Another chapter year, another distinctive Active Member shirt for helping to make the  Florida Chapter successful!

The 2018 active member shirt recipients.

For over 15 years, we’ve tried to recognize and reward the members who are essential to chapter success. Our distinctive leadership shirts cannot be bought, only earned. They set our membership apart at meetings, STC conferences, and in the workplace. In fact, after years of envy, several other chapters have copied us and started their own active membership programs in the past 5 years.

The shirts let our members celebrate chapter pride in the workplace whenever they choose to wear them. They send a positive message to employers, clients, and co-workers:  I am committed to my profession and committed to self-development. I am a member of STC!

Now that our chapter meetings are more statewide and networked, there are a few changes to make sure virtual attendees aren’t overlooked and multiple contributions to the chapter’s publicity effort are credited. As the table shows, members earn points for every month they attend a meeting, put on a program, attend an Administrative Council meeting, or serve as a judge or mentor. You can also earn points by helping Communications Chair Emily Wells with articles, photography, and production for Memo to Members.

Ways to Earn Member Points

The most significant change to the active member points program is that a yearly points target has been removed. Instead, based on activity, the most active 15 percent of the membership will receive shirts. See you at the next meeting!