Author: Julia Southwick, New Professional member/Communications Chair/Editor
The 2020 STC Florida Chapter survey was shared with everyone on our mailing list and following our social media channels in August 2020. As Chair of the Communication Committee and Newsletter Editor, I worked with the committee members and the administrative council to prepare the questions. While the preliminary results were shared at the September administrative council meeting, we wanted to break down the responses for everyone.
We want to thank everyone who took the time to respond to the survey. In total, we had 19 responses from members primarily, though a few non-members also provided their input.
Engaging our Members
When we asked participants what chapter activities they would like to participate in, many responded they’d like to help with communications. I welcome the help gladly and look forward to working with these volunteers! There was also plenty of interest in event planning and student outreach, as well as individuals who are not sure what they’d like to help with and many other topics are seen in the graphic below:
If you are interested in volunteering with the Florida Chapter, please reach out to the administrative council at email@example.com to let us know.
New Member Engagement
During the leadership retreat, a new member expressed a desire for a new member orientation to introduce new members to our chapter. When we brainstormed, we came up with several options; the most popular of which was a new member packet with resources and the second most popular was an introductory video. Please see the below graph for more details.
We are looking for volunteers to help develop this new member orientation process, so again, please reach out if you would like to help develop a new member packet or introductory video.
Diversity and Inclusion
The Florida chapter has always been committed to diversity and inclusion (with inclusivity as one of our Values). In August of this year, John Paz joined us for a facilitated talk on Diversity in Technical Communication, which I strongly recommend viewing if you were not able to attend.
Given the broader cultural conversation happening, we wanted to ask our members directly:
The STC Florida chapter is committed to embracing diversity and inclusion. Do you have recommendations for how we can achieve that vision?
While some respondents were content with our current commitment, we received the following specific recommendations that we encourage the administrative council to consider:
- Pursuing speakers and topics beyond our typical comfort zones and embracing the tough conversations
- Have David Thomas present his Fighting Bias Through Content Strategy presentation
- Open the mentoring program to historically black colleges and universities such as Bethune Cookman
- A diversity and inclusion committee if we can get volunteers for it
Our live education webinars continue to prove to be the most popular meeting format based on responses. However, there is still a strong interest in panel presentations, which we have held successfully online in the past.
We did have a volunteer to run a tech comm trivia night, which could be an engaging casual meeting for our members.
Members shared numerous ideas for upcoming meetings and workshops, with topics from specific tech comm tools to broader technical communication trends. We have broken down the suggestions broadly into categories.
Tech Comm Skills
We are always looking for chances to hone our skills as technical communicators, so it’s no surprise that we received the following suggestions:
- API doc
- Accessibility, UX/UI design, and strategies for the web
- Documentation project management
- Roundtable for best practices and issues
- Soft skills we often overlook that can be applied to any job
- Usability testing (creating personas)*
- Cutting edge and most popular technical writing applications/tools for technical writers today*
- Easy tips for using Slack
- Presentation tips on Zoom and Microsoft Teams
- Tools, tips, tricks for efficiency
- Automating conversions and repetitive tasks
- New tools or how to use popular tools
- Tools/tips of the trade
- Basic coding. Making macros, using shortcuts, etc.*
- DITA, FrameMaker, UX design, reusable content, content management systems*
- Visio, Arbortext, DITA, and any other programs that more established Tech Comm professionals have found useful*
- Flare: importing Word documents to Flare.*
- Digital transformation
- Using analytics to guide content creation
- Discussions of issues presented in TechComm and Intercom
- Communications across generations
- Cultural attitudes in information: a look at Diversity and inclusion
- LGBT+ and Tech Comm
- Transitioning from a new writer to higher levels
- LinkedIn and the job search
- Business tips for freelancers
- Self-study for STC Certification
- Negotiation skills and career development*
If you have been following our meeting calendar, you will notice that we have recently held meetings on several of these topics. The administrative council reviewed the preliminary results of the survey in September and planned meetings tailored to the highlighted suggestions.
Moving forward we encourage the administrative council to pursue these suggested topics where possible. Based on the feedback, we see an interest from our members particularly in a tools workshop and for discussion-based meetings for sharing experiences.
Participants were asked what tools they prefer for asynchronous communication and virtual meetings, many responded they’d prefer Slack and Zoom respectively. There was also plenty of interest in using Google Meet and many other platforms seen in the graphic below:
In addition to what tools they’d prefer to use, participants were asked to rate their preferred communication channels. The chapter website came in first with email campaigns as a close second. The other options got similar ratings to each other:
At the end of the survey, participants were asked to let us know how we could improve the chapter. Many said they could not think of anything to improve and to keep doing what we’re doing. Others had suggestions for what to improve, which I have broken out under the headings below.
One participant suggested we offer more support (such as virtual meetings or creating in-person meetings when the world is pandemic-free) to other areas of Florida, such as the Tampa Bay area. Several others agreed that having online components to our meetings when we go back to in-person events would be a welcome change. A participant responded they’d like to see the chapter embrace new ways of engaging with members.
Another suggestion was to encourage volunteerism by showing points of contact for opportunities, redirecting to a website, flyer, video, etc. with information that could jumpstart new members helping out.
A request for an update to the website that would allow further suggestions for improvement was submitted by a participant. If such an update were implemented, we could ask for suggestions to be submitted there at every meeting.