DailyAfirmation (dailyafirmation) wrote,

SpeedCon 2012: An unconference on communication

~Saturday~  I had a fun day today, attending the 2nd annual SpeedCon conference, SpeedCon 2012, put on by NC State's student chapter of SIGDOC (Special Interest Group for the Design of Communication).

I was a "gold" level sponsor of this conference, which means I donated $100 in cash to help put it on. I also donated a brand new Kindle to be given away as one of the door prizes. Sadly, I didn't win it.

Full disclosure about my sponsorship: Attribution for my donation was given to "The John Martin Foundation." This was in jest! I do not have my own foundation, although my financial advisor and I have discussed the possibility of one day setting one up, and the idea does appeal to me on some level.

This conference was actually an "unconference," which means folks who wanted to present had a half-a-minute or so at the beginning of the day to "pitch" what their talk/presentation/discussion/session was going to be about.

The pitch I gave for my presentation was:

Imagine for a moment that you've been called down to the Raleigh Police Department as a "person of interest" in a crime. A detective asks you, "What did you do last Monday? Morning? Afternoon? And evening?"

On and off, I find myself having to answer that question, not because I'm on and off a person of interest in a crime, but for reasons that I'll divulge during my presentation called Digital Sources that Inform the Reconstruction of my Days.

If you're interested in learning how and why I do that, or want to see if you might be able to reconstruct your own days if you wanted to, or had to, consider coming to my presentation today.

My presentation is available on slideshare.net.

This is what the schedule ended up looking like for the day, with the ones in green being the sessions I attended.

Caldwell Lounge: Opening Keynote, Dr. Brad Mehlenbacher

Caldwell G109: Digital Sources that Inform the Reconstruction of my Days, John Martin
Caldwell G110: Wonder Drugs from Nature, David Kroll

Caldwell G109: How to Make an Infographic, Jen Riehle
Caldwell G110: Framing and Rhetoric for Amendment One, John Strange

12:30-1:15pm: Lunch, Caldwell Lounge

Caldwell G109: How to Present Technical Information, Douglas Johnston
Caldwell G110: Flip Your Meetings, Dr. Barbi Honeycutt

2:10-2:40pm – Lightning Sessions!
Caldwell G109:
- Accessibility & Usability, Neal Timpe and Michelle Tompkins
- Job Hunting, Desiree Burns

Caldwell G110:
- Non-verbal Communication, Sarah Egan Warren and Jen Riehle
- WordPress Multisites, Jen Riehle

Caldwell G109: Active Presentations, Sarah Glova
Caldwell G110: Online Education discussion, Sarah Egan Warren

Caldwell Lounge: Closing Keynote, Dr. Wade Newhouse

Caldwell Lounge: Door Prizes and Closing Remarks

Here are some thoughts on the presentations I attended:

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs): Entrepreneurial Instruction of the Death of Traditional Education

Dr. (but more importantly, my friend) Brad Mehlenbacher always delivers an ethos-packed presentation, and this opening keynote session was no exception. And by ethos-packed, I mean intellectually cogent and heavily cited. :-)

I've read a fair amount about MOOCs, but probably the most interesting thing that I learned during this session was the wide and varied interpretation, and disagreement, about a thing as basic as what the MOOC acronym stands for. See slide 5 in his presentation.

Unfortunately, I had to miss the last five or so minutes of Brad's presentation, as being the nervous-wreck-of-a-presenter that I am, I had to go down to the room I was presenting in, to make sure everything was just so. The first two presentations started at 11:15, and mine was one of them.

Digital Sources that Inform the Reconstruction of my Days

This was my presentation, and as I always am, I was nervous presenting, albeit less so with every passing moment into it. Perhaps because it's one fewer moment left in it.

Things I'd do differently, if I were to have a "do-over," include that I would have read my two Facebook check-ins (for the bus and for the gym), as I'm pretty sure they were unreadable from the back of the room.

I was very surprised, and most pleased, that as soon as I finished and the lights were turned on for questions, there were five hands raised, and there ended up being more questions after those were addressed. I'm grateful for the interest.

And, as is also the case after most of my presentations, there's a sense of melancholy that all that energy spent—both creating it, and the internal turmoil I go through rehearsing and presenting it—was a "one time deal," and it will now be relegated to the digital closet somewhere.

Okay. Enough about me, me, me!

Framing and Rhetoric for Amendment One

Note: For my non-North Carolinian readers, Amendment One was an amendment passed in NC in September of 2011 to add to our state's constitution that marriage is defined as being between one man and one woman.

There were a couple of interesting things about this presentation to me:

  1. It was presented by a former fellow grad school student who was in the Master's in Tech Comm program when I was, who is Catholic, and who is straight.

  2. John, the speaker, posited that both sides (and trust me, it was a derisive campaign) were actually basing their arguments, for or against, using the same three frames, one of them being "family." The people in favor of same sex-marriage argued that they needed to be a family, because being part of a family is so important to their children and in our society. And the people opposed to same-sex marriage argued that we should not allow same-sex marriage to protect the family that's so important to society.

Flip Your Meetings

This was an interesting session, particularly after the one I attended before it, as it was essentially about "re-framing" meetings from passive to active in nature.

This session was the one that I could most practically use some information from on my job. We already have a "staff" meeting and a "working team" meeting each week, of which I'd classify the working team meeting as a "flipped" meeting.

What I'll probably present at our next staff meeting will be that we re-frame the "agendas" of our working team meeting, to further strengthen their "flipped" nature.

Non-verbal Communication

This "lightning session" was perhaps the most fun, fun, fun session I attended, and it was facilitated by two of my close friends, Jen and Sarah!

After a short few sentences about the genesis of doing this session—which was extra interesting to me, since I was at the conference in Seattle in October when the idea was born—Sarah and Jen gave a few examples of the non-verbal gestures they'd used in talking with a fellow conference member from another country.

The rest of the session was spent soliciting more of them from the participants, and there was no shortage of them.

I contributed at least two: drumming fingers on a table or desk to indicate "waiting," and using "air quotes" when saying something like, Oh, you're "working from home" today, are you?

Active Presentations

The last presentation I attended today was my friend Sarah Glova's, and it was about practical things you can do to make your presentations more active, and interactive, by looking at several ways to engage your audience in the course of your presentation.

One of the things I most admire about Sarah—other than always appearing (probably because she is) cool, calm and collected in front of an audience— is her interest and initiative in learning new tools.

I thought for sure that her presentation today would be in Prezi (which I first heard about when she used it in the defense of her capstone project for her Master's degree), but nope, today it was in yet another tool I've never heard of until I saw her use it today, called Wix.

The Closing Keynote

This was far and away the session I enjoyed the most today. Oh. My. God. I laughed. I cried. It became a part of me.

Okay, that's hyperbole to some extent. I actually became a part of it.

But, it was more than the fact that the topic was "self"—a favorite topic of mine itself, and it was more than the fact that my presentation was referenced several times in it, although I will say at one point I thought about the speaker in these terms:

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ― Maya Angelou

I left there feeling a happy, well-documented self.

One of the things that really struck me about this speaker was his "self"—or more accurately a caparison of two of his "selfs"—that I observed during the day there.

Having never met Dr. Newhouse before, I only engaged with him for a very brief period, at lunch time, and my initial thought was that his was a quiet-serious-introverted self.

So, of course I was blown away when his gregarious-animated-engaging self blossomed in front of the group's collective eyes for the closing keynote address!

I remember thinking of his "selfs" in a similar way that I thought of Michael Jackson's "selfs" during his life. Not the dangling-a-baby-over-the-balcony Michael Jackson self, but about how shy and reserved he was off stage, but on stage so mesmerizing that I couldn't keep my eyes off him.

I found Dr. Newhouse's talk very intellectually engaging, while being so funny at times as to take me to just this side of pig-snorting, all while slowly realizing just how much he'd been paying attention, and how much of his whole self he'd put into his day at SpeedCon.

Dr. Newhouse, I appreciate you.

In summary, it was a great day!

I am so grateful to the people who put on the event, and to the people who attended and engaged with their hearts and minds throughout the day.
Tags: conference, friends, sigdoc, speedcon

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