Spectrum STC Rochester Conference—an Awesome Experience

As a first-time attendee to the Spectrum Conference, I was curious and excited to make the four-hour road trip to Rochester, NY. Hosted by the STC Rochester chapter, this conference—and its host members—are of the highest caliber. The event is well-organized with outstanding learning and networking opportunities. I strongly encourage NEO STC members to attend and promote this experience, which will be celebrating its 60th year in 2019.

Spectrum offers one full day of conference sessions, an optional half day of leadership sessions, and post-conference workshops. I attended the leadership sessions on Sunday, followed by a wonderful speaker and awards dinner, and the full day conference on Monday. During this time, I was privileged to make many new professional contacts, including STC international leaders: Jane Wilson, incoming president, and Ben Woelk, incoming vice president. I was also happy to be in the company of NEO STC member and STC associate fellow, Tricia Spayer, who served as a speaker at two conference sessions.

While it’s difficult to summarize such a full, enriching experience, here are some takeaways I want to share:

• It’s about energy management, not time management. Cindy Currie taught us that there’s a better than way grinding away at our tasks. She also energized the room by passing out artisanal chocolates (made by a master chocolatier), teaching us that chocolate can boost energy. I can personally attest to that!

• Talk to strangers! We learn from those around us. Roxy Greninger challenged us toward personal and professional growth through exposure to new, mentally stimulating activities. Push yourself, challenge assumptions, and meet new people. And don’t forget to share your own unique gifts and passions with others. We all have a chance to improve our wellbeing and that of others.

• Hack into your flow—this was the conference theme kicked off by Judy Glick-Smith, Ph.D. The concept of flow state comes from the field of positive psychology. When we are in a flow state, we are in an optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best. With proper training and experience, you can apply flow state characteristics to decision making, leadership models, groups, and organizations. I found this concept fascinating and was impressed how many of the conference sessions supported ways of finding your flow.

• Agile—it’s not just for software anymore. This was the title of Jane Wilson’s session. Jane manages technical publications at Tesla where she uses Agile practices to improve the efficiency of her team’s publication projects. We can all apply these five principles to any type of work: 1) Define the workflow. 2) Break the work down into management tasks. 3) Fail fast and iterate. 4) Visualize the work. 5) Identify where work slows down. 6) Embrace transparency.

• Continuous, partial attention lowers productivity and dilutes the brain. Blogger and author Mark Baker spoke about the dangers of multi-tasking. He showed how modern processes and tools for content development and publishing introduce unnecessary complexity and distraction that damage the tasks we try to perform and deplete our mental resources. Solutions to this problem include limiting unnecessary distractions, planning ahead, and keeping processes and tools structured.

• You can overcome your fear of public speaking. Tricia Spayer can vouch for this fact. In this spotlight talk, Tricia shared from her personal experience tips and tricks we can all use to overcome the common fear of public speaking. My favorite tips that Tricia shared are be passionate about your subject, practice well in advance, and visualize success.

By Carrie Cianciola

Photo By Tricia Spayer