Summit ’14: Talking with Leah Guren

Lean Guren entered the field of technical communication in 1980. She conducts technical communication training and consulting services for major global high-tech companies. Leah is well known for her lively and engaging presentation skills. She consistently rates as one of the top speakers at the STC Summit and other professional conferences internationally, and is a popular keynote speaker. She has trained and coached a wide variety of people in presentation skills (TCs, product managers, department heads, consultants, and more). Leah is a Fellow in STC. Conference Chair Chris Hester chatted with Leah about the upcoming Summit and her sessions.

This year we’ve added the Presentation Skills Master Class to our preconference certificate line-up.  This is a new offering for us. What can you tell us about it?

People have been asking me for years to do a course like this. I’ve done lots of training and coaching in public speaking skills, but not for STC. This is one of the most important soft skills in virtually any white-collar profession. So many people have great ideas and are passionate about their work, but don’t know how to share their ideas in a way that is compelling and effective.

Complete the sentence: “You should absolutely plan on attending this workshop if you …”

… have ever turned down the opportunity to lead a meeting or speak at your local chapter (or anything else that involved public speaking) because you were nervous or unsure of how to prepare.


… think of things you forgot to say (after a presentation), manage your presentation time poorly, or have ever faced a bored or disconnected audience. If you know that you can do better, this is for you!

After attending your workshop, what can people do to build and reinforce their skills?

Practice, practice, practice.

You’re also doing Label Editing: Great Things in Small Packages during the Summit. What was the motivation behind that session?

People tend to think of technical communicaiton deliverables as the big things (user guides, manuals, online help, etc.). But there is a lot of tiny content that can have a profound effect on the overall user experience. This topic addresses the special challenges of finding the right words for labels, signage, and other elements of product text.

In the session evaluations, we ask attendees, “What is the best idea you heard in this session that you plan to use?” What do you expect the top answer to be?

For the Presentation Skills Master Class: the hook (creating a compelling and effective intro).

For the Label Editing session: the idea that technical communicators need to get involved in this and not abdicate to the developers.

What are you looking forward to most in Phoenix?

Connecting with friends and colleagues from around the world, plus meeting some of my students in person.

More about Leah

Leah on Twitter

Leah on Lanyrd

Leah’s website