STC Chicago's Bill Leavitt is a long-time member of STC Chicago, a past chapter president, a past international president, and an STC Fellow and has attended many STC conferences. During these last couple weeks before the Summit, Bill has some advice to help you make the most out of your visit.
As you plan your trip, go to www.stc.org and familiarize yourself with the hotel details, the program, and other activities at the Summit.
What to Pack
The most common regret of first-time attendees is running out of business cards. You'll be surprised at how many people you meet that you'll want to remain in contact with. There will be around 800 people at the Summit, and don't be surprised if you give out 100 business cards. It's better to bring some home with you than to run short.
Regarding dress, generally business casual is good for everything at the Summit. However, most people dress a little more formally for the Honors Banquet (i.e., business suit or sport coat, cocktail dress, etc.). The Communities Reception is usually business casual; however, the Music Jam immediately follows the Communities Reception, so you might want to dress more for dancing and partying that night.
Many attendees dress pretty casually during the daytime--shorts if it's warm, jeans and a knit shirt if it's cool. Then I dress up a little for evening. Casual or business casual, you'll be in good company.
You'll want to spend some time selecting which technical session you want to attend before you come to the Summit. Many of the speakers are well known and very popular. However, if you're a first-timer, you should select the sessions you want to attend based on the content descriptions. With experience, you'll become more selective with your choices.
Note that the sessions of more popular speakers will be full. Try to arrive as early as possible to assure getting in. Also, have a second choice for each session in case its full.
Be careful to avoid overbooking your schedule. Many of the sessions are intense in terms of the information you'll receive, and you don't want to burn yourself out.
In addition, there are other activities for you to attend. Some are useful for networking with fellow technical communicators. Some are educational. Some will help you to develop your leadership skills. And some are just plain fun.
Sunday Registration and Kick Off
As soon as you arrive at the Summit hotel and check into your room, go down to the STC registration area and get your credentials, the Summit program, and other related materials. Most areas of the Summit are off-limits to those who aren't registered.
The highlight of Sunday evening is the Welcome Reception in the exhibit hall. This is actually a reception to introduce attendees to the many interesting exhibitors. It's a must-attend activity. It's also a great networking event.
The most well-attended event of the Summit is the keynote address on Sunday evening just before the Welcome Reception. The keynote speaker this year is Scott Berkun. The Summit program will tell you more about who he is. The keynote address is also kicked off by the STC president.
Monday evening is the STC annual Business Meeting at 5:00 pm. If you're an aspiring leader or want to know what's going on in STC, this event is for you.
The Communities Reception on Monday night (6:30 pm) is an opportunity to learn more about and possibly join special-interest groups of professional interest to you. It's also a fun networking event with food. Among other things, it includes a prize drawing.
Tuesday HighlightsBesides a full day of technical sessions on Tuesday, Tuesday night is a recognition night. You'll want to dress your best and attend the Honors Reception and Banquet. You'll be able to celebrate STC's new Fellows, Associate Fellows and most successful chapters as they're honored at this gala event. Note that the Banquet is not included in your registration fee; also, you must arrange who will be at your table at the registration desk if you have friends at the Summit.
Your Last Day
After a few hours of sleep, Wednesday has more technical sessions and the closing luncheon (where you'll learn about next year's Summit).
Visit the Chicago chapter hospitality table in the STC registration area for information about Chicago, tourist activities, the hotel, and STC souvenirs. Visit the 2013 Host Chapter booth in the exhibit hall area to learn more about next year's Summit.
Remember that STC Chicago is your host, and we're always happy to answer any questions you have.
Submitted by Mary Whalen.