At the Summit: A Man, A Plan, A Panama Hat

We bring you another “At the Summit” guest blog from Brian Lindgren, talking about his time in Phoenix.

This year’s Summit has a bunch of subtle changes that translate to significant improvements. There have been some years when the STC Summit was at convention centers and hotels where the individual sessions were spread across a wide area—sometimes on separate floors. I remember at times either showing up for a session that was standing room only and having my second choice being a bit of a jaunt. In past years there was only a 15-minute break between sessions, which of course made things complicated if you had to haul from one end of the venue to the other for your next session and no doubt truncated some of the after-session Q&A. One excellent change this year is that for the most part all the sessions are in one hallway in adjacent rooms. An irony, perhaps, is that there is now a half hour between sessions—but this is also great because networking is certainly a key benefit of the Summit and the extra time (particularly with the close location of consecutive sessions) both enhances networking/Q&A opportunities and cuts stress by allowing some of us to check in with our day jobs.

This year’s program also has some subtle and useful changes. First, the “Schedule at a Glance” concept has morphed in various ways over the years, including a reduced-size version one year that fit into the back of the badge holders. This program has a nice, easy-to-follow, consolidated checklist that lets you highlight selected events. A very simple but highly effective approach.

The Vendor Showcase was renamed “Summit+” and the rebranded sessions are staged in the Exhibit Hall. This is a good opportunity to pick up additional information from some of the key vendors. Page 10 in the program lists the Summit+ sessions.

I’m not a qualified enough STC historian to know if this was the first time ever, but during Alyssa Fox’s presentation “Targeting Documentation to Your Users’ Goals” (editor’s note: part of the Virtual Track!) virtual attendees were able to ask questions in real-time (assisted by Phylise Banner’s masterful media manipulation). Whether or not this was the first-ever foray into virtual participation, it went off without a hitch.

My only blunder was that I became so accustomed to the Communities Event (formerly the Communities Reception) taking place on Monday night that after the second session I headed to my room to catch up on some office work and I completely missed the event. No one to blame but myself. On a similar note, if you haven’t hit the Exhibit Hall, please do so by 5:00 PM Tuesday—there are no Wednesday hours.

I believe I’ve attended the last seven STC annual meetings, and to my knowledge this is the first one that ever ended early! This meeting ran less than 40 minutes. Aside from that positive piece of news, outgoing President Nicky Bleiel announced that during the past year STC membership increased, the first time that has happened in recent years. Another key announcement: the Board carried Mark Clifford’s motion from the 2013 annual meeting to reduce the eligibility requirements for potential STC officers from five years to one year of being a member in good standing.

Random Phoenix musings … on Saturday I asked the hotel concierge and an attendant at the local parking lot if there were any shopping malls within walking distance. I got a resounding thumbs-down. When I followed up with the concierge to ask specifically for any clothing and accessories stores the list was quite short. Being a technical communicator I am prone to research, of course, so I jumped online and found two potential shopping areas that were about 7 miles away—and a 14-mile walk round-trip was not what I intended.

I called the Downtown Phoenix Ambassadors and asked what was in the vicinity of the Hyatt, and they informed me that a mere few blocks away—on Adams and Central—I could pick up the Light Rail and take it to the end at Montobello and 19th, which turned out to be just across from the Christown Spectrum Mall. This had almost anything one would want—a Super Target, Super Wal-Mart, JC Penney, Costco, Famous Footwear, Payless, Foot Locker, Ross, Radio Shack, Bath & Body Works, and more. Round-trip ticket $4, way less than a cab ride and about a 25-minute ride in an air-conditioned train. I was able to pick up a sporty Panama Hat to both protect my head from the Phoenix sun and mark the trip with a souvenir.

3 Replies to “At the Summit: A Man, A Plan, A Panama Hat”

  1. Brian is right, this was a very good Summit. Having the sessions on the same floor was a good idea. Best of all was meeting my peers and making new friends.

  2. Brian, I loved that the sessions were all physically located in one area. It made it very easy to get around. I didn’t realize that the STC business meeting was open to all – lesson learned for next year!

  3. This was my first STC Summit. I found it well organized for the most part. It was easy to find the sessions, and the Expo. I really appreciate having plenty of coffee and constant snacks. It would be good to include all the events in one schedule, not just the presentations. I too missed the Communities event…oh well…hopefully next time!

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