Spectrum Conference Review

Tricia Spayer attended the Spectrum conference this year and also made a presentation, Enjoy reading her answers to the questions asked.

What was your favorite part of the Spectrum conference in Rochester?

My favorite part of the conference was seeing STC Rochester members, whom I’ve had the pleasure of hanging out with at previous Spectrum conferences.

My favorite part of the presentations was hearing about other technical communicators’ plans and predictions for future content. There was an introductory Symposium session, which was held Sunday September 11 and featured 20-minute TED-like talks.

During the Symposium, Amanda Patterson presented: Doc Design Futures: Docs as AR, VR, and the Like. I appreciated hearing her vision of consumer documentation for the future, where you could point your phone at a product, get an overview of all the components, and click to get more information about a specific part. That technology exists, although it may not currently be in the mainstream of documentation at this time.

Also, Rob Hanna presented: Enabling AI Through Concise Intent-Based Writing. It is not out of our realm of possbility to keep chunking information down to small, independent pieces, where chatbots and other technologies can serve up the information to users.

Rob ended both of his forward-thinking sessions (he also presented the Keynote on Monday September 12) with the statement/question: “Robots are coming. Do you speak robot?” It’s something we should all be thinking about.

I also attended Lou Prosperi’s session about applying an Imagineering process to our documentation process, Kim Chmielewicz’s presentation about thinking of our documentation process as a drama, and Katie Becker’s Unexpected Journey into IT Communications. I enjoyed all these sessions, and found them to have a unique twist on how we can approach our documentation. I liked all these sessions, and am grateful that the remainder of the presentations were recorded, so that I can catch them later.

We can all take ideas from forward-thinkers like these, and ask ourselves how we can continue to improve the customer experience.

What was your presentation about?

My presentation was titled: Mind Mapping Your Way to Organized Success. I got to share how the technique of Mind Mapping can help you deal with an overwhelming amount of information, either with a manual, website, or presentation, and be able to see it all in a big picture. In my session, participants learned what Mind Maps are, and what they are not.

Participants learned the principles of Mind Mapping, and how to begin their own Mind Maps. I was thrilled to see several great first attempts from participants, including someone who mapped out her next steps as she moves into retirement, another participant who mapped her activity where she leads people to become aware and awake, and someone who began mapping Chapter 5 of her dissertation!


How did this conference compare to other Spectrum conferences you have attended?

This Spectrum was virtual, as opposed to previous in-person events. That was the biggest difference. As happened in other virtual conferences that I have attended the last couple years, attendance was down. This is unfortunate, that non-participants are missing out on connecting with one another, learning from each other, and continuously learning.