STC Summit—Highlights from Sunday and Monday

by Sherri Henkin on May 17, 2016

I climbed the Summit and am enjoying the view! The speakers at #STC16 have shared insightful and detailed information. Here are some tips I’ve picked up so far:

Sunday Night Opening Keynote

David Rose, shared his view of Internet of Things. David focused on the scenario of Enchanted Objects: ordinary things that function the way we expect yet have a little extra functionality. The concept came from fairy tales; think ruby shoes that helped Dorothy return home to Kansas or a magic carpet. In the lab, David and his team prototype objects that connect to the internet to assist with daily functions. One example: internet-connected prescription bottle caps that remind people to take their medications. The person receives notifications, and if the medication isn’t taken, a loved one receives and email and the application notifies the physician.

Monday’s Sessions

The conflicting/competing session issue resolved itself. I either intuitively figured out what to attend or spoke with a colleague for ideas. Knowing that some of the sessions are recorded and available at Summit Playback also helped me decide: I can listen to some of the workshops I could not attend and still learn from the speakers.

Your Secret Weapon: The Documentation Handbook, Kate Schneider (MadCap Software). Key points:

  • Documentation Handbook is a central repository of procedures and work instructions for writing documentation.
  • Main subjects: welcome topic; how-to instructions (example: how you use the authoring tool), and style guides.
  • Primary uses: training; reference tool, and sandbox.

Technical Editing Progression

What’s a Progression Session? A 45-minute session where participants can hear two of the several speakers. Each speaker sits at a round table, presents their topic, and encourages discussion.

I was one of over 130 participants in this Progression session…it was SRO (until we got more chairs)!

Using Checklists for More Efficient Editing, Kelly Schrank (Med Communications)

  • A checklist keeps your edit process consistent, helps the team/lone editor stay on task, and presents a systematic way to review documents.
  • You might have a different checklist for each type of document.
  • The added benefit: a checklist documents clearly the types of edits you did.

Improving the Review Cycle: Concurrent Editing, Mike Sawyer (Control4)

  • In concurrent/parallel reviews, many people work on the document simultaneously.
  • The process saves time, only if the document is in a tool that allows concurrent access, such as Google docs.
  • Mike’s best practices include using a tracking tool for accountability.


Rethinking Help in a Mobile World, Sharon Sherry (Google) (part of Strategy and Trends Progression Session)

  • Terminology is different between mobile and desktop worlds (click v. swipe); this impacts the use of single-sourcing.
  • Some of the best practices for mobile help: keep it short; be present only when needed, and don’t get in the way of using the app.

From Fred Flintstone to George Jetson: Creating Tension in Training Increases Adoption, Viqui Dill (American Woodmark Corporation). The scenario was a new software roll-out. Key lessons learned from this successful roll-out:

  • All the prep led to an empty “war room” during go-live; no support calls.
  • Build a big team.
  • Use training methods that appeal to all senses: visual; auditory; written, and kinesthetic.
  • Eliminate the term post-mortem; have a party!

The Client Said Yes: Now What? Teresa Stover (Stover Writing Services) (part of Independent Consulting Progression Session)

  • Develop a worksheet that states the project goal, audience, tools used, deadlines, scope, rate, and other project details.
  • Create a proposal based on the worksheet: this is what I will do and not do, and rate.
  • Contract/agreement for services: include the proposal; applicable law for your state; contractor status; confidentiality and non-disclosure agreement, and what the client will supply (examples: SMEs and raw data).


Once I synthesize the information, I’ll post about Tuesday’s sessions, Honors Reception, and Wednesdays sessions/closing keynote.

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