Welcome to the Publishing Smarter STC Roadshow
Thank you for your interest in the Publishing Smarter STC Roadshow Events! We’re excited to have you here.
Many of the STC communities we talk to have members without the deep pockets that a corporation may have and therefore don't always get the same chances for training and personal development. So, instead of asking the members to attend events in distant cities where they have to travel, book a hotel, and take time away from their families, we bring the event to you.
By working with your STC community we can share the risks and rewards and bring events related to technology and best practice to your location. By holding events in partnership we provide a way for you to educate your membership (for example, a formal Education Day, or as part of a conference) and to help ensure community financial stability. In many cases we even bring door prizes or some other type of sponsorship.
On this page we give you information on what we’re doing, what expectations we have, timetables, and other background info to help you make a decision about working with us (and letting us work with you) to provide educational opportunities to your membership.
What is Publishing Smarter doing?
PS is doing a series of road shows on Tech Comm topics and working to help out the tech comm community. We know training budgets are tight and there are a lot of people who may not have kept their skills up to date. Getting funding for people to go to a conference, or fly to a training class, or even stay at the hotel can be tough. So, we’re offering to bring our services to your community to help put skills into the hands of your membership and to provide value, resulting in dollars in your community bank account at minimal risk.
We're offering topics that are based on our training courses, and many are vendor-agnostic. All are well received and reviewed, and the content is generally of interest to the membership of the STC.
How much work is it to run this?
It's not too bad. Since we work with you, and we've done this with several STC communities in the past, we can help to keep you on track and organized. We're working on a complete package so that you basically get a collection of checklist items needed to run the event. The goal is to make it easy enough for a few volunteers to do the bulk of the work for the event.
What topics are available?
Look at the course offerings we have under Training. While any of the courses are available (at really good rates, usually up to 60 or 70% off the public course rates) the DITA Tools and Technology and Frame and DITA for Authors are popular.
Do the communities just get a single event?
Even that is open ended. The goal is to provide education. It's just as easy for us to also arrange a general community meeting on the same topic (or another one) while we are in town. In many cases we combine the seminar with a general meeting for your membership.
It's also nice to talk to others who have worked with the STC in the past. As a former newsletter editor, community vice president, community president, and now as a webmaster for the STC Toronto community, I have had a lot of exposure to ideas at a local, and a national level. Sharing ideas with your community, and learning from your leaders, is another benefit of this program. It's a chance for me to listen to your concerns, and for you to talk about what others are doing. Win-win.
What does vendor-agnostic mean?
Because these are not necessarily about just one software product we remain vendor agnostic. If things can be done in more than one tool, we show and tell people about them. If a tool is relevant, we provide a fast reference, or detailed hands-on opportunities, based on the audience and the topic. However, it’s never a sales pitch. If you need marketing, then we refer the audience to a website for more details.
These workshops are NOT a cleverly disguised sales pitch on a topic. We're trying to help the STC community that made us successful by providing training on technical communication topics.
Who ends up attending?
We're advertising to the general community membership and most people are from local companies. Some travel from nearby cities (within up to about 4 or 5 hours drive time). We generally recommend you advertise to the world, but realistically we settle for those we can work with together via lists, groups, social media, and our resources we can think of together. We are getting 10 -35 per seminar, based on the topic, the doorprizes, and the size of the community.
Do we promote ourselves during the seminars?
We expect you to be quick enough to see right through it. There is an introduction at the start of the seminar, including our name and contact information. We would like to think that members have no issues with a short - short - pitch about us and the services we may offer, but the core of the discussion is about them, their issues, and the way best practices and technology can help fix them.
So who makes money from these?
We all do. At least, that’s the plan. We ask that you pick up the expense of the travel, lodging and meals. We provide our time for free. We promise to show up, even if there are only 4 people. However, our hope is that we get 10, 15 or even 25 or 30 attendees that pay a reasonable, but reduced, rate for attending. Here’s why. We split the profits. So if the event costs $1200 to run (hotel for a night or two, a flight, and some food) and we only get 4 people at $249 each, then it “costs” you about $200 for the event.
If on the other hand we get 20 people at the same rate, then it’s $10,000 coming in. The event costs go up (larger space, more food, or other costs) but even if the total cost is $3000, it leaves $7000 and we split that evenly. So the local community puts $3500 into the bank for events, and we get paid. Essentially, the risks are generally minimal and we’ve done many of these, so there are good options to help keep costs down.
Will the Administrative Council get anything from it?
Nope. Our goal is to provide a service to the membership. We can probably get one or two members of your council, or some volunteers into the seminar for free. That’s what we’ve done with other communities and it works well. About 1 volunteer per 10 attendees (round up, so with 12 attendees bring two volunteers) and they attend for free. The free attendance is nice to reward people who take the time to deal with registrations, pick up the food and drink for the mornings, and generally do the heavy lifting surrounding the event dates.
Does anyone record these seminars?
No recording are allowed. This provides a greater incentive to people to attend their local event, rather than simply go online to watch and learn. By working locally we can keep funds in the community, and we can work together to build up a good network.
What equipment/facilities does your community need?
If you have access to a classroom facility (one of your members may work for a company that has a corporate training room) that has some computers, great. If not, then people may bring laptops, or share them, and we can even run it at a hotel in a meeting room.
You should have access to a projector and a screen, and a whiteboard or flipchart. Aside from that we are pretty low maintenance.
What if people have questions during the seminar?
We invite them. Having a smaller group provides a great way to work with people in a more direct fashion. The questions are one of the many benefits of this type of an event. People can interact and hold a discussion to actively offer each other support or suggestions. The presenter is there in a professional capacity and can provide detailed answers when needed as well. We also ensure that one person doesn’t take over the entire session with their questions as we work though topics.
If someone asks questions that we cannot answer, they are typically asked to follow up via email and we track down answers from vendors or other partners.
What is the timing like to run this?
We suggest the following as a general guideline:
Two months in advance of your event:
- Contact us to request a workshop (look at our courses for ideas) by emailing email@example.com and include a phone number for follow up.
- Find a location for the event that is local to your members.
- Consider asking a local company to host it, especially if you have a larger organization (think colleges, or Fortune 500 companies, or even municipal offices) available (you can always offer them a one or two free seats in trade for the facilities)
- Prepare an initial budget to cover the basic costs such as location, airfare, and hotel.
- Identify pricing for members and for non-members or students if applicable.
- We've often suggested pricing events at about US$150/day for members and adding at least $100/day for non-members. Make membership count. For students, consider having them attend for half the price that members pay.
6 weeks in advance of your event:
- Identify the maximum number of attendees you want to have based on the space available to you, and the suggested maximum numbers based on our discussions.
- Promote the event to your membership by direct emails, blogs, newsletters, phone calls if possible and ask them to promote the event to others in their networks.
- Ensure you have at least one or two people volunteer to organize the event to take registrations, payments, answer questions, put together directions to the event, and work with us if needed to address questions.
4 weeks in advance of your event:
- Confirm early registrations (don't panic, as we find most registrations come in the last two weeks).
- Arrange with partners (we can help get software partners for you and have door prizes such as shirts, backpacks, pens, services, and other goodies to draw for).
- Ensure that flight and hotel information is available to book the tickets (actually, that's our job, but you should be in the loop).
2 weeks in advance of your event:
- Ensure that all facility plans are in place.
- Send a reminder email to the membership to let them know seats are filling up quickly.
- Confirm with us that everything is proceeding as planned.
Software Saturday beats laundry, chores and carpool any day!
Lori Neuman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Senior STC Member, North East Ohio Chapter, STC, Rockwell Automation
Saturday morning. Early. I got up, got dressed like I was going to work, grabbed my coffee, and headed back to college. I left behind my sleeping family, and a laundry list of the usual Saturday chores. I was off to Tri-C to create in XML!
Bernard Aschwanden was better than I could have imagined. In addition to his vast knowledge, he provided the sort of witty repartee I don’t always get to indulge in my daily life. He was quick with the one-liners and sardonic humor as he dished out perhaps the clearest explanation of DITA and XML authoring I have ever heard. (more reviews)
Rob Hanna, Past Director, STC
Bernard is one of the brightest lights in our profession as technical communicators. His reputation as a leader and innovator is well deserved. In 2005, Bernard accepted my invitation to serve as my vice-president at the STC Toronto chapter during my term as chapter president. He has proven himself to be a tireless, dedicated, and dynamic team player. (more reviews)
Michael Priestley, DITA Architect, IBM
Bernard is an excellent and entertaining presenter and trainer with a firm focus on pragmatics. He focuses in on the details that are needed by a particular audience and makes the information stick. (more reviews)