Farts and fairy dust – tekom/tcworld 12 – Day 2

As promised, I follow up with the second part of my wrap up of the tekom-Jahrestagung 2012 in Wiesbaden. (You missed Day 1?) Day 2 was again filled with lectures, workshops and interesting talk with some techcom friends old and new.

More fun with spreadsheets

Sarah O´Keefe workshop "Building a Business Case for Content Strategy"

Sarah O´Keefe workshop "Building a Business Case for Content Strategy"

The morning (the spell checker voted for „mourning“ here…) started with Sarah O´Keefe (after a much too short night) – did I mention that I am really a fan? The 100 minute workshop was called Building a Business Case for Content Strategy – and that´s what we did. Only thing I have to complain is that it was from time to time a little bit hard to follow due to the bad acoustics in the room – sometimes I could better understand the workshop in the next room – but there will not be so many Workshops in the Rhein-Main-Hallen in the future, so that should be ok. (The other thing to complain about is of course Marijana being late for the workshop… 😉 )

In this workshop Sarah showed us how to make the transition from theory to creating an actual case which could be used to convince the people with the money… These people can usually be best convinced with numbers and thus, to my great delight, we made an example using a spreadsheet which can be found at the Scriptorium website – I am not sure if Sarah wants me to share the Deeplink? It was definitely very informative to play in the spreadsheet with some variables. Those, who have yet to provide some persuasion in their organization could use a similar approach and calculation as basis for an individual case. The potential for savings was impressive even if using conservative estimates.
I think it is especially frightening to start such a calculation from scratch and thus this workshop proved to be a huge help. Of course a lot more valuable information was provided – to get more insight, I would recommend to have a good read with the new book by Sarah O´Keefe and Alan Pringle: „Content Strategy 101“  (where „101“ stands for the beginners course, for my fellow Germans). You can read the book online(!), get it as an eBook or buy it in print from the usual sources (I got mine from amazon).

No responsive Webdesign for me

Sadly the lecture „Responsive Webdesign“ has been cancelled. The speaker did not show up – nobody knew anything about her whereabouts. Hopefully she is fine, as no further information was provided. So I had the time to prepare for the next session:

The Strategic Technical Communicator

Panel on Strategical Technical Communicator at tekom 2012

From left to right: Marijana Prusina, Nicky Bleiel, Dr. Tony Self, Sarah O'Keefe

Dr. Tony Self had the courage to act as a decorative accessory for the three leading ladies of techcom Sarah O’Keefe, Nicky Bleiel and Marijana Prusina on the panel „The Strategic Technical Communicator„. As correctly announced, the panel was aimed more at the beginners in Techcom – what left space for the unexpected entertainment qualities of the discussion participants. All in all a very witty event, where I learned a lot about the good, the bad and the ugly of being employed or working as a freelancer. Especially Mr Self had some interesting insights to share – some of them revolving around bad smells in the office – a good argument for a more solitary activity. Now I am sure that I have to find a way to get away from that kind of olfactory nuisances…

But besides the funny parts it was very interesting to hear about the Pros and Cons of freelancing and also some thoughts on the differences in Tech Com in Europe and the US or about how to build a profile as a professional in the field of Technical Communication / Content Industry / Information Architecture. Sarah – who is obviously the Joanne K. Rowling of Content Strategy – told a bit about the nerve wracking possibility of writing books but also the participation in committees or Professional Associations (tekom, STC etc) were mentioned.

Drum up business

All in all a very interesting and entertaining panel where you could learn how to drum up your business – something every technical communicator should learn in order to survive in possible future corporate infights or workplace politics. This also concludes my unintentional „stalking“ of Sarah O’Keefe 😉

Reverent listening to the Content Philosopher

…. or: how to make women jump on the hood of your car

XML license plate

What women REALLY drives crazy...

Next was the workshop „Planning An Intelligent Content Project“ by Joe Gollner. He granted deep insights into really big projects and also had one or the other anecdote to tell from the glamorous life of a successful Content Strategist. Before that day, I would not have imagined that having a license plate with „XML“ would make women jump on the hood of your car because they have some very pressing questions on XML… fascinating 🙂 But besides the funny parts, the workshop was very exciting and informative. Especially to get a feel for the challenges you face when working on really huge projects. Mr Gollner lived up to his title as a philosopher by providing enlightening theoretical and background thoughts – very inspiring. The „Intelligent Content Lifecycle Model“ and the actual „Intelligent Content Project Planning Worksheet“ will also help all participants in the future to better plan for their upcoming projects. I am looking forward to learn more about the underlying theories in the future.

Fairy dust for my soul

A photograph of my soul, before and after listening to Sarah Maddox

A photograph of my soul; before and after listening to Sarah Maddox

The conclusion of Day 2: Engaging Readers in your Documentation – How and Why with Social Media by Sarah Maddox. It is really hard to describe for me what exactly made the magic of this lecture. Sarah managed to remind me (and I think a lot of the audience) why we ended up in this profession in the first place: we are happy to help people! The right information at the right time can make all the difference. And thus there should be place for emotion – even humor! – in technical communication. Of course there is always cost and time pressure but we are able to help other human beings and of that we should be proud and maybe we can even do that with a smile. Sounds kitschy? Maybe.

But sometimes it is so exhausting always only thinking about the ROI, making SWOT analyses and all that business stuff. Of course Sarah Maddox also had a lot to tell about the appropriate use of Social Media and how to perform doc sprints – something which sounds very interesting and I surly have to try in the future. Also good practical tips were provided – example? Scatter links on your page like fairy dust – a good (SEO-) recommendation and a good example how to transport a concept with metaphors.

Sarah Maddox, distributing Fairy Dust among the attendees

Sarah Maddox, distributing Fairy Dust among the attendees

But what really stuck with my was the positive feeling she managed to transport. That was not only due to the very good presentation but also because of Sarah´s  incredibly charming personality – not too often you meet someone at a conference who simply makes you happy just by having a little chitchat between two lectures. Thank you for being such a kind and friendly person 🙂

Nearly finished!

All in all it was an entertaining, inspiring, surprising day 2 at tekom 12. Now you worked through this lenghty article, only one more day is left – coming soon.

For further information on the lectures and workshops you can download most of the presentations from the tekom Website

I would suggest that you follow these great people on Twitter! Marijana PrusinaNicky BleielSarah O’Keefe, Dr. Tony Self, Joe Gollner and Sarah Maddox

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