Villegas Views: 2014 STC Summit was HOT!!

This year’s STC Summit was a very different experience for me this year. Yes, we were in the middle of hot Arizona, but inside cooler buildings, the information and networking were even hotter!

My perspective this year was different since it was my second Summit. While there were some things I knew to expect, I had some new experiences, too. My anxieties about meeting people were lessened, as I knew a lot of attendees. I made an attempt to say at least a “hello” to everyone I knew. (If I missed you, I’m sorry! Next time!) I made new friends as well.  From a social aspect, this year was easier because I had befriended so many people from last year’s Summit. I never had to be by myself, and there was always good conversation going on around me.

Even as a second timer, new experiences were abundant. Remember when I compared the progression sessions to speed dating last year? (See my STC’s Notebook article, “A First-Timer’s Summit: Speed Dating and Pick-up Lines at the Summit? What?” from 9 April 2013.) I finally attended one about creating presentations. It wasn’t as rushed as I thought it would be. There were five talks to choose from, and you chose two to attend during the time period. Great speakers at that session made it work out wonderfully. Who knew?

The keynote address by Jonathan Colman of Facebook was awesome. I had the thrill of meeting him in the hotel elevator later that night and introducing myself in person, as we had met on Twitter. I love making connections like that! I also made some connections at the special Helvetica movie event hosted by the STC Phoenix chapter, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Additionally, I attended the Honors Banquet for the first time. It was great to sit with my fellow chapter members, and even get up three times for awards for my chapter and my two SIGs. Everyone cleaned up nicely, it was nice meal, and I enjoyed supporting friends there.

The big “first” for me was that I was a first-time presenter. Yep, I threw myself into the fire. I was a bundle of nerves before giving the presentation (several know that I requested some vodka to add to my travel mug of tomato juice), but I had reassurances from friends that everything would be fine. I received good feedback from those who attended, as well as from others who didn’t attend (they were giving me feedback about what they had heard through the grapevine).

This year’s Summit seemed to have a quieter vibe to it. Was that just me, as an experienced Summit attendee now? Perhaps it was everyone feeling soggy from the desert heat, although the heat really wasn’t that bad. I heard that this Summit was bigger than last year’s, but it didn’t feel bigger to me. Several familiar faces were presenting, yet I appreciated all the new faces offering new perspectives. The topics for the education sessions demonstrated a wide range of relevant topics. My problem was that everything was so cutting edge to what my company is doing (they are stuck in the 1990s, by their own admission),  that it was harder to choose relevant presentations to me. That issue had to do with my own needs, but it certainly wasn’t a reflection of the quality of the presentations at all.

Since leaving the Summit, I’ve already seen several social media posts about having “Summit hangover”, and I can easily say that I’ve fallen victim to it. I find that when I’m attending the Summit—or any tech comm event, there’s a certain “high” that comes with being among peers who speak tech comm language as well or better than you do. There is a unique camaraderie which technical communicators have that I haven’t seen elsewhere before, one that demonstrates a true kinship and show of support within the community. It’s never more felt than at the STC Summit. It didn’t matter if the person I was talking to was from Canada, Germany, India, or somewhere else in the world. We all had the same deeply felt passion for technical communication. I always feel like I am at my best and have the strongest support when I’m at a tech comm event, including this Summit. For this reason, I didn’t want to go home, but rather I wanted to stay and bask in the glow of the positive vibes shared among my peers.

Due to scheduling issues, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make it to next year’s STC Summit in Columbus. I will say this—the STC Summit is now something that I look forward to each year, and will look forward to attending as often as possible in years to come.

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