Bright ideas are attractive. Conferences, such as the 2011 STC Philadelphia Metro Chapter-sponsored Mid-Atlantic Technical Communication Conference, are designed to inform and spark new ideas. I was recently inspired to learn and contribute as a conference speaker. We all have knowledge and experiences that can inspire others. In our conversations with coworkers, friends in the industry, and fellow professionals, we learn from listening, observing, and doing. My secret for learning at the highest level is to volunteer to speak about a topic. The goal of presenting is met when I achieve the following goals:
- Help our audience to understand something
- Motivate our audience to take action to do something
- Give our audience something to think about
First, discover what you have a passion for. Do you see a pattern in the requests you receive for help on a specific topic? Do your friends, coworkers, and industry peers send you email messages with requests for help or clarification on a particular subject? A good way to generate and capture ideas is to start an idea journal. I use a Google document so that I can access my journal notes from any computer.
Second, from your idea journal, select a topic that interests you and inspires you. Start a slide deck and begin outlining your discussion points. You do not need Microsoft Office to make a slide deck. You can use free software such as Google Presentation, Lotus Symphony Presentations, or OpenOffice Impress. Use the web, use your professional skills, and definitely use your anecdotal experiences. Add these learned bits of wisdom to your slide deck or to your idea journal.
Third, give yourself a deadline to complete your slide deck. The next time that you see a call for proposals, consider participating. Every event has specific proposal and presentation guidelines and a proposal deadline. Plan to complete your proposal well in advance of the deadline. You might be required to get the proposal accepted by your company management, so plan for the approval cycle as appropriate.
The conference is not the only opportunity to present information; STC and other organizations have many opportunities for you to share your bright ideas. Consider presenting at a chapter meeting or consider presenting a workshop in your area of expertise. Do the work and have fun with your topic.