Toronto Photo Walk
Sunday morning was gray and drizzly, but the Toronto Photo Walk was a go. With the help of Suzanne Salvo, Chris Salvo and Keith Philpott, we learned to shun our “usual” photos and try something different. I regret that I left my “good” hydrophobic Sony camera in the room because of the weather, but I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the snaps I took with my iPhone. You can see some of our efforts on Flickr.
Opening general session
The tone for the conference was set by Drum Café (pictured below), an amazing group that managed to get all of us communicators banging out the same beat. Note to self: sign up for drumming lessons.
This was the first year that the IABC world conference featured an “unconference,” which is an unstructured event where anyone can speak. Bryan Person, Jeremy Schultz, Christopher Swan and Linda Johannesson did an impressive job running this event. I didn’t stay for the whole three hours, but I did experience very meaningful discussions (about executive blogging and live-event social media, among other things) in a few of the groups before I had to leave. I hope this type of session is repeated next year.
Les Potter on strategic communication planning and management
I must confess that I originally planned to sit in on Les Potter's session for a few minutes before running off to something else (often my tactic at conferences). But Les grabbed my attention and I stayed for the whole thing. In one hour, he did a masterful job of explaining the value of strategic communication and the skills we need to make it happen, while citing many useful tactics in the communicator’s toolkit. This session would have been essential for newbies, and a great refresher for veterans. (Les is pictured below with Diane Degan Robinson, ABC (left) and Sue Horner. Yes, he is always surrounded by women.)
Although most of us go to these conferences for the workshops (right?), there’s no denying the value of a fun party. This year’s opening bash at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) was no exception: fabulous food, conversation and beverages in a regal setting. (I was also fortunate to attend the speakers’ and leaders’ reception on the Saturday night. What lovely views from the Panorama room at the Manulife Centre. When you live in a city, it’s easy to forget how beautiful it is.)
Katie Paine truly is the queen of social media measurement. I had heard Shel Holtz’s recording of Katie’s talk at New Comm Forum on this topic, but this session was still very valuable and fresh. See Shel’s post, which includes audio and a link to Katie’s slides, which are packed with info.
Lessons for leading change in international organizations
This was another of those sessions where I thought: “OK, I’ll check it out for a few minutes,” and then stayed until the end. Veronica Hope Hailey discussed her research into employee engagement with great humour and even charisma – not an easy task.
General session with Craig Kielburger
The co-founder of Free the Children and Me to We is justifiably famous in Canada. Having seen him in the media countless times over the years, I wasn’t sure how well his story would play at an IABC conference. And yet, he captivated us, charmed us and convinced us to find a purpose in work and in life. This was one of the best general sessions I’ve seen at IABC.
Toronto Dine Around
A tradition at the world conference is the Dine Around, where you join a group of people you haven’t met before and eat dinner together at a local restaurant. While I was a little disappointed with the fare at Mezes (although I’d eaten there before), I had a fabulous time with the group at our table. Thanks/efkharisto to organizer Amalia Kyriacou, who still owes me a Greek lesson! (Just kidding.)
Shel Holtz on the gold in your employees’ social graphs
I always learn something new from Shel, whether he’s speaking at a conference or on his podcast, For Immediate Release: The Hobson and Holtz Report. At this session, he expanded on the theme of Stopblocking.org, his initiative to get employers to understand the business value of their employees’ presence on social media sites. Amazingly, about half the corporate communicators I meet tell me that they can’t even access YouTube at work.
Guy Kawasaki’s closing general session on the art of innovation
I enjoyed seeing Kawasaki, a large-than-life personality on the Web and in the tech world. His speech was entertaining and well delivered, but didn’t really offer anything new content-wise. Still, the audience seemed to like his positive comments about hockey and the Canadian healthcare system.
My first world conference speaking experience
I was excited when the conference organizers invited me to speak this year within the PR track, and even more delighted to be introduced by Warren Bickford, ABC, an IABC rock star. (I have to say that speakers are treated very well; even the audio technician in the room was a dream.)
Those who attended my talk on “integrating multimedia into your social media campaign” didn’t exit the room in droves, so perhaps it was OK. You can see the slides here, but honestly, they are very visual, so I’m not sure the content will make much sense detached from my talk! (Here are some stats I mentioned in my remarks.)
As chair of the Professional Independent Communicators, a subgroup of the Toronto chapter of IABC, I tried to meet as many independents as I could at the conference, and even recorded a short podcast with some, about why they attend the world conference. IABC members can listen here; others can listen here. And for the third year in a row, I roomed at the conference with my friend and fellow independent Sue Horner. What happens at the conference stays at the conference!
A special thanks to all the organizers and volunteers, especially the Toronto Hospitality crew!
*By the way, ABC means Accredited Business Communicator, a professional designation from IABC.
**MC is Master Communicator, the highest distinction bestowed by IABC Canada.