Musings from ICC 2014: It’s Not a Sprint, It’s a Marathon

fitness-shoes-bottleICC_Blue_Globe_Logo_125x125-01Conference attendance is very much like running a marathon—it requires planning, preparation, and physical and mental endurance. When you decide to attend a conference like Intelligent Content Conference, jam packed with learning and networking, you’d best have your running shoes on, and all your water stops planned out in advance.

The Warm-Up

Scott Abel and Ann Rockley, the energy and the brains behind ICC, do an amazing job in finding outstanding pre-conference workshops. The topics ran the gamut of technical communication and content strategy, and provided some heads down opportunities to learn and apply basic theory, and discuss more trendy and advanced ideas, in a full-day format that gets you ready for what’s to come.

The Start

Joe Pulizzi’s keynote and the panel discussion moderated by Ann Rockley set the tone and themes that prevailed throughout the conference. I found it refreshing to hear about content strategy and user-focused communications from the marketer’s point-of-view, especially Joe’s down-to-earth approach and sense of humor. Coming out of the starting sessions, you could sense that “finally” marketing and tech comm had something constructive to talk about.

The Intelligent Content Conference 2014 is a marathon of learning, demos, and networking.

The Intelligent Content Conference 2014 is a marathon of learning, demos, and networking.

Mile Markers and Water Stops

Yes, given the opportunity I will take an analogy to the furthest sensible point and well beyond.  ICC features a huge assortment of short sessions on topics that ranged from metrics to gotchas, especially useful for newcomers to either side of the content strategy universe.  The Content Strategy sessions I attended seemed geared towards providing the tools and technology foundations to move content strategy forward in an organization… just as useful as refreshers for experienced content strategists as newbies.

As a representative for a “media partner” for the conference, I also spent lots of time wandering the exhibit area, and found more evidence of the convergence of tech comm, content strategy and marketing in the variety of vendors. Tools to manage the editorial process and social media engagement may seem more relevant to marketers, but take it from me, having these tools in place when publishing technical content can ease a lot of the pain most TWs I know suffer with.

The social aspects of ICC are incredibly important to the whole experience… yummy breakfasts, recharging lunches, happy hour socials, pulling together folks for a group dinner… they all add to the feeling of being a part of something unique.

The Finish Line

So maybe you’ve already heard about the closing session for 2014, if not, go take a look at the video. Mr. Doubletalk had most of the crowd doubled over with laughter.  Those that got pranked took it all with good humor, and it was memorable to say the least. And it actually did underscore the most important theme you could take away from ICC—clear, comprehensible and engaging content is the common goal between all content disciplines, so breaking down those barriers is a must.

So now that it’s over, my feet have stopped hurting, and I no longer have any excuses for carbo loading. Well except that I have to get into training for ICC 2015.  I can hardly wait.

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