The Society for Technical Communication held its 54th annual conference, the STC Summit, in Minneapolis last week. I was a member of the conference program committee, so I bore some responsibility for reviewing proposals in my area (Producing and Publishing Information) and choosing presenters to fill the program.
Overall, I think the conference committee and the STC staff did a great job. Past STC conferences had developed a reputation for serving the beginning to intermediate writer, while ignoring the needs of more advanced technical communicators. This year, the sessions were of much higher average quality than in past years, by predominantly well-known speakers in technical communication and related fields. The Summit included several new features, including topic-specific Institutes, certificate programs, and special vendor-sponsored sessions. For a look at some of the content presented at the Summit, session materials have been made available on the STC Web site.
The conference committee and STC staff took risks. In order to attract higher-quality speakers, registration fees were waived for full presenters. Conference registration fees were raised substantially. However, STC membership voted with their registration forms — the conference drew more than 1400 people, at least 200 more than the organizers expected. Vendors also supported the conference in record numbers, by selling out the exhibit hall.
I think the STC did very well with its 2007 annual conference. The conference committee is already preparing for further improvements in the STC’s 2008 Summit in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Look for the Call for Proposals on the STC Web site later this year.