by Paula Bernardino
I started my day at the World Conference by attending the mindfulness meditation session by local coach Lucie-Anne Fabien. What a great way to kick off the week.
I was told to be prepared for an interesting keynote address, led by futurist Anab Jain. I was quite curious about what I was about to hear. As communicators, we always need to keep an eye on what’s next, right? I was blown away by some of the videos Anab showed and left with some key takeaways:
- The world will always be in a state of change and we need to accept it and adapt to it. We must accept the idea that we don’t know and will never know everything.
- The tools we are creating to master the world are remastering us.
- We imbue technology with ideals of the people who have created it, rather than those who use it.
I was then off to Jon Hammond’s session “Motivation as a skill,” eager to find out whether motivating and inspiring is something we are born with or if it’s a learned skill. Jon’s excellent presentation skills got everyone in attendance entertained and listening to every word he said. We can all motivate and inspire if we follow the principles Jon discussed, which come down to knowing your audience.
The afternoon speed presentations on employee engagement were fun. I really enjoyed the 10-minute format followed by questions. Kudos to Shruthi Bopaiah, who delivered a very interesting presentation about Infosys in times of disruption while experiencing technological issues in the room. Shruthi was followed Louisa Graham who showcased a case study on creating resilient employees during times of change. I then went up and presented how to engage employees through corporate responsibility. And last but not least was Subhamoy Das, who got us thinking about artificial intelligence (AI) and the impact on communication.
I ended Monday in Carol Kinsey Goman’s session on the power behind collaborative leadership. She emphasized the importance of empathetic listening and to demonstrate her point, made us do an exercise where we had to spell what we like to do to our neighbor instead of saying it. It’s a quite a challenge for the person listening but what it made us realize is that it got us to focus on what the person was saying instead of getting ready to reply. Try it!
And day one for me couldn’t end without some socializing. I attended the French Connection Happy Hour event organized by the local chapter at a hotel nearby and then joined fellow communicators from across Canada and the U.S. for Indian cuisine at Devi downtown as part of the traditional Dine-Around activity.
About the author
Paula Bernardino has more than 15 years of experience, is bilingual, and has been specializing in corporate responsibility since 2014. Paula completed a certificate in business sustainability management from Cambridge University in May 2017. She has solid expertise in strategic corporate communication and public relations acquired while working for large corporations and not-for-profit organizations. Bernardino has also received her master’s degree in communication management from the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University.
by Elizabeth Krecker
The first two sessions I attended on the opening day of the 2018 IABC World Conference snapped us out of our comfort zone and began the change in our approach to our profession as communicators that is the focus of the 2018 conference.
When IABC Chair Sharon Hunter introduced Seth Godin, the opening keynote speaker, she pointed out that the theme of our conference “communication at the crossroads,” reflects our current state as communicators: We’ve never been more challenged navigating change and yet we now have a real opportunity to make a transformative impact. The two presentations I attended built the beginnings of this transformation in my work.
Strategic Adviser Forum: Corporate snakes and ladders
Led by the entertaining British team of Stephen Welch and Casilda Malagon, the Strategic Adviser Forum was designed to enhance our ability to sit at the executive table. But this session did much more than that by launching all of us into entirely new directions.
We met our teammates at round tables covered with a colorful board game, beautifully designed cards, and a pocket of black beans. Welch and Malagon tag-teamed their presentation, leading us through a guided tour of the game interspersed with robust discussion.
But first, they opened by explaining that their goal for us was that we learn from our mistakes in this room and not at the office. As we make the leap from becoming skilled technical experts in our profession to becoming a strategic adviser to our executive team, an entirely new skill-set applies. This session was designed to combine core technical skills with consulting skills through team problem-solving of real life dilemmas.
And Welch and Malagon truly made our experience a real-life dilemma. My team did all the right things. And yet in the end we ranked barely above last place because we kept falling into the same trap. We were bold in our discussions initially, but after 10 minutes, we landed on the “educated communication professional” answer to the problem we faced. And that was always the answer that gave us the least possible points.
It’s not much consolation that none of the teams chose the highest scoring answer on the last question. The highest scoring answer was the boldest answer: The answer that propelled us all from our cozy chairs onto the exciting playing field shared by other executives.
This session demonstrated the value of being bold in our role as communicators by not sitting back and responding with tried-and-true tactics, but instead being willing to risk stepping out of our traditional role.
Opening general session: Communication in the age of distraction
Seth Godin bounded onto the stage to an audience of 1,000+ people, his gigantic smile beaming and his long arms waving. He opened with a story about his trip to Bucharest to talk about a new golf course being built in Transylvania. To illustrate his point that golf is the worst spectator sport in the world because of its quiet applause, he asked us to give him our best golf clap, then led us to gradually increase the sound of our applause until it was roaring.
“Just like that applause, your job is to find small threads of interest and weave them together in a way that makes them louder and more important,” said Godin. As though to hammer in my lessons learned in the morning’s session, he followed with this: “You may have signed up to be communicators, but the world has changed, and now you’re leaders.”
Godin illustrated through imagery that leadership is not the same as management; leadership is voluntary and involves no authority whatsoever. It means doing a thing that we’re not sure will work and getting other people to do it with us.
He talked about our modern culture: It’s all about “more.” But, “more” means we need “everyone” and “everyone” means average. Average is the very definition of appealing to everyone. And now, the marketing problem compounds.
Henry Ford introduced us to the idea of scale when he invented the assembly line to build cars in the early 1900s. This concept has spread all over the world and caused us to start yelling at people through our advertising to accomplish our mission. No thanks to us, the communicators, the average person on the internet has the attention span of a goldfish.
“We need to figure out how to talk to people in a way they’re going to listen,” said Godin. “This model of finding poor schmoes and yelling at them isn’t working anymore.”
In 1969, after Apollo 11 touched down and Neil Armstrong became the first human to leave his footprint on the moon, Buzz Aldrin became the second. Godin wrapped this session with his story of meeting Aldrin. While Godin and Aldrin were talking, the moon rose, Aldrin pointed to it and said simply, “I’ve been there.”
Godin closed by repeating his goal for us to understand that we as communicators are more than communicators: We are leaders and we are in a position to make change. Images of Aldrin walking on the moon next to Godin’s thoughts about leadership will be close to my heart as I walk through this conference.
About the author
Elizabeth Krecker serves as principal of Krecker & Company, a marketing agency based in Phoenix, Arizona. She provides marketing, branding, public relations, web development, and project management services for: Dignity Health, Make A Wish Foundation, and MCMC, an integrated marketing communication firm. Prior to starting Krecker & Company, she served as director of marketing and public relations for Health Choice, a health insurance firm specializing in Medicaid and Medicare with health plans in Arizona, Utah, and Florida. Krecker began her career as an advertising art director and created award-winning campaigns for the Arizona Lottery and Arizona Biltmore.
Not sure what to make of the invite to the Open Space session coming up at World Conference? It can be hard to imagine what it might be like if you haven’t been to one before. If you haven’t ‘tasted the format so to speak.
Well, to that end, here’s ‘one we prepared earlier’. It is a term you might be familiar with if you’ve ever watched a cooking show, but it’ll hopefully work here too. We’ll look at both the recipe for a good Open Space event, and what can come out of one.
The recipe (in its simplest form)
- An open space
- Some paper and some markers
- A few basic ground rules
For a closer look at this in action – and more about the ground rules (which may be very different than you expect) see this brief thread):
— Michael Ambjorn (@michaelambjorn) May 27, 2018
Cooking up fresh ideas using Open Space
Let’s take a practical look at what can come out of an Open Space session—by looking at one we prepared earlier.
From the panoply of topics to choose from, a subset of the attendees opted for a focused conversation exploring:
How to make conferences more ‘Talk With than Talk At‘
What follows are from the shared notes from participants Mette, Lee, Jo, Mirjam, Maria, Jesper, Alistair + (hosts Martin, and me, Michael) – big thanks to all who contributed:
What did we learn through the discussion?
- What makes a great (and participative) conference.
- Barriers and how to overcome them.
We also set out an action plan will help us make more conferences Talk-With rather than Talk-At. And we discussed who else might get involved over time, beyond the Open Space discussion: those who participate in – or plan conferences.
We also agreed some next steps and a call to action
- This is a Creative-Commons based project based on sharing insights to achieve change—including through this article. This means others can reuse/remix the output.
- If you find it useful, share it. If you have a different topic that you’re passionate about—turn up at the Open Space at World Conference and explore it with others! Or build on this one…be sure to let us know.
How did the group arrive at the above?
We used a format called Focused Conversation (or ORID amongst friends) to help the conversation flow – asking Objective, then Reflective, then Interpretive and finally Decisional questions. Et enabled us to cover a lot of territory in a very short time.
To warm up we shared experiences of conferences we’d been to, including critical elements that had help drive participation.
We then dug deeper—discussion both opportunities and barriers to participation in more detail.
Conference experiences – what’s good for participation / what is difficult?
- Active listening
- The use of multiple dynamics / approaches
- Marketplaces for ideas / concepts allowing movement – and immersion
- Technology (Slido and Mentimeter can work well)
- Panels sometimes = sequential monologues.
- Too heavily stacked programmes.
- Conferences driven by status rather than exchange.
- Technology (death by PowerPoint and assorted tech SNAFUs).
Having mapped that out we started discussing what might be done…
Practical ideas for people who want to make conferences more Talk With than Talk At
We shared lots of ideas, here are the ones most relevant to those attending #IABC18—ideas you can run with for your own conference or event.
For now though you can show your support of Talk With approaches by RTing/liking—because we want to make this post interactive too.
1) Provocation can work well—looking at a topic in new way fires up the crowd for the break, sparking new conversations
A good keynote does that. Look out for these.
Don’t miss keynote speeches by best-selling author Seth Godin, futurist @AnabJain, and culture guru @RyanMcCarty at #IABC18. It’s not too late to register! Get the details and secure your spot today: https://t.co/Ht6rtEkxf5 pic.twitter.com/aPZcgso9d5
— IABC (@IABC) 29 May 2018
Ask an open ended question in advance
At #IABC18, I’m leading a panel called “99 problems but an app ain’t one” and I need your help. Tweet your biggest #internalcomms problem using the hashtag #99ICProblems to be included in the presentation and discussion pic.twitter.com/4auLG6IDX9
— Chuck Gose (@chuckgose) May 9, 2018
Survey the audience in advance
Here’s @StephenWelch11 in 7 of 11 capturing what’s different about #bushcraft4c – see you at #IABC18 in Montreal or check out the web site https://t.co/f8HIJvnK1f or take the survey https://t.co/zTX4hhzp1y https://t.co/saTY0qxGqL
— Mike Pounsford (@mikepounsford) 17 May 2018
Give participants home work / advance work
If you are attending the Strategic Forum @iabc #IABC18 , get ready for the pre-reading : out next week. In the meantime, here is an article by co-presenter @StephenWelch11 that talks about influencing skills, which we will be discussing with @casilda1https://t.co/GFbQHY96ip pic.twitter.com/O4YlH3uiot
— Carmen Spinoza (@CarmenSpinoza11) May 17, 2018
Foster cross-pollination / benign collision
Participate in the Open Space session – and don’t forget to sign up for Dine Around!
And whilst it is not officially on the World Conference programme, you could pick up on this idea from Jesper Andersen. All you need are the group of new friends you’ll meet in Montréal:
Host a #FAIL celebration
“At MeasureCamp in Copenhagen in 2017, we had a session called “Analytics Therapy”. In it, we sat in a circle and everyone had a beer (if they wanted one). We then went around the room and every person had to say something analytics-related they struggled with (maybe a client or a technical issue. If others shared that pain, they had to raise their beer and toast the speaker.
It was a lot of fun because it was very visible to everyone that the problems each of us thought we were alone with were actually very common problems – and that led to talk about how to fix them. Plus, we got to drink a lot of beer at the end of a long conference day :-)” – @startsnakken
Now you’ve seen what can happen when a group of people get together in an impromtu way. And had some fun too! Others from the group will undoubtedly share more of the ideas in the future through more articles and blogs, but for now: do you have a topic you’d like to explore? Come along to the Open Space session at #IABC18!
I wish I could be there. Be sure to let me know how you get on. I’m @michaelambjorn and I am grateful to Mette, Lee, Jo, Mirjam, Maria, Jesper, Alistair and Martin without whom this article could not have been written.
About the author / Michael Ambjorn (@michaelambjorn) is a committed espresso drinker, #OpenSpace aficionado and an SCMP. He provides 1:1 advice to Chairs, Chief Execs and senior leaders on strategy, change and turnarounds. He is particularly interested in how strategic alignment can focus people – enabling renewal and growth. With his colleagues at AlignYour.Org, he facilitates strategy for organisations that want to enable all their people to put a shoulder to the wheel. Through courses and 1:1 coaching and mentoring they also work to develop the next generation of leaders.
For the morning general session on Tuesday, 5 June, at the IABC World Conference, we’ll hold a discussion with several top CEOs on their vision and ideas for how communication can make a demonstrable contribution to business success.
Moderated by Hugues Mousseau, vice president and partner with Syrus Reputation, the panel will also unveil the results of Syrus Reputation’s 2018 Global CEO survey, providing a unique look into the contribution of business communicators to the achievement of corporate successes.
The session will explore the question of whether business communicators are positioned to be the next chief strategy officers. It will also look at the idea that most successful CEOs are not only prolific at mastering corporate finance, operations, strategy, sales or human resources, they also display superior leadership abilities. Additionally, CEOs must also aspire to become expert communicators, while promoting and protecting their company’s reputation. In that capacity, they are surrounded by trusted business communicators acting as trusted advisers, whose role expands beyond the articulation of the CEO’s vision and objectives, and increasingly toward shaping corporate strategy.
Not all CEOs value the strategic contribution of business communication to the achievement of business objectives in the same magnitude. Come meet three successful CEOs prepared to share their thoughts and experience in working with business communicators. Are we contributing to the success of the business as much as we believe? Can we do more? What can we do to see our strategic contribution be better valued? We’ll tackle all of these issues and more.
If you are familiar with a CEO with a major organization, please help us by forwarding the Global CEO survey to them. It will only take five minutes of their time to fill out the survey and it will make a big different to our collective knowledge about how communication can support CEOs, as they work to elevate their organizations.
Chief Executive Officer, PBSC Urban Solutions
Luc Sabbatini is CEO of PBSC, a leading global provider of sustainable mobility solutions for smart cities. Deeply passionate about innovation, design, technology, and urban planning, each of Luc’s professional endeavors has destined him to hold his current role at PBSC. He namely spearheaded the media activities of one of the world’s largest telecommunications providers, while serving as a corporate director for some of the fastest growing players in the areas of marine logistics, environmental services, architecture and interactive gaming.
As an entrepreneur and venture capitalist, Luc strives to shape a world where every person can fulfill their purpose by taking advantage of the most affordable, sustainable and efficient mobility solutions possible. Over the past couple of years, Luc has propelled the growth of PBSC, taking it from the local success story that is the BIXI scheme in Montréal, Canada, to a world-renowned reference in the development, deployment and operation of bike sharing technologies.
Having graduated from the prestigious schools of HEC Montréal and Harvard University, Luc continues to invest both time and resources to further important social, academic and entrepreneurial initiatives that are close to his heart. A highly solicited speaker, he regularly shares his views on urban tech and mobility-as-a-service at conferences and industry events such as the World Cities Summit and the Ferrovial Mobility Executive Forum, in addition to being profiled in global publications such as Monocle, and featured in the prestigious Top 40 Under 40 list, recognizing excellence in business leaders across Canada.
Tournament Director, Rogers Cup presented by National Bank, and Senior Vice-President, Professional Tennis – Québec, Tennis Canada
Eugène Lapierre is Tournament Director of the Rogers Cup presented by National Bank, an ATP WorldTour Masters 1000 and WTA Premier tournament, since 2001. He is also the Senior Vice-President, Québec at Tennis Canada.
Prior to his current role, Eugène held various leadership responsibilities among tennis development programs across Québec. Due to his unique vision for the development of sports infrastructure across the country and the creation, in Montréal, of a new National Training Centre, he is often credited as one of the main architects of the emergence of Montréal as central hub of tennis in Canada. Under his leadership, the Rogers Cup is recognized globally as one of the most successful tennis tournaments after the Grand Slams with yearly record attendance.
Founded in 1890, Tennis Canada is a non-profit, national sport association with a mission to lead the growth of tennis in Canada and a vision to become a world-leading tennis nation. All the profits generated from the Rogers Cup events in Montréal and Toronto are reinvested annually in the development of tennis across the country. Tennis Canada prides itself as promoting values of teamwork, passion, integrity, innovation and excellence.
President and CEO, Belron Canada
Ralph Hosker is President of Belron Canada since June 2009. In this capacity, he oversees the activities of some 350 corporate and franchised service centres, as well as 40 warehouses or distribution centres across Canada – operated by a team of over 1800 employees.
He joined the ranks at Belron in 2000 as Director of supply chain management and international supply management. Prior to working at Belron, Ralph held various logistics and supply chain roles namely at United Biscuits, and also spent five years as a logistics consultant for Coopers and Lybrand.
Ralph obtained a combined French and German degree at Durham University, England. He lives in Montréal, Canada, with his wife and kids.
Moderator Hugues Mousseau holds over 15 years of experience in corporate affairs and communications in the public, parapublic and private sectors.
In addition to having led teams in charge of the entire spectrum of corporate affairs and communications, he also headed communication for several mergers and acquisitions processes. Additionally, Hugues held management or consultant positions in the media, telecommunications, automotive, retail, aerospace, food, environment, pharmaceutical and health services sectors.
Solicited equally for his corporate strategy expertise than for his experience as speechwriter, media spokesperson and financial communicator, Hugues holds university degrees in political science, business administration and public law.
This year, we’re offering special breakout sessions from some of our most exceptional 2018 Gold Quill Award winners. You’ll get the benefit of learning about how top communication professionals applied high-level strategy and planning to create communication programs that will make a lasting difference for their organizations.
Sessions that inform and inspire
Don’t miss the opportunity to get a debrief on inspirational real-life case studies that exemplify best practices in organizational communication. Gold Quill sessions are scheduled alongside the regular breakout sessions.
Join the sparkling Excellence Gala
And don’t forget the celebratory part of the Gold Quill Awards program, the elegant Excellence Gala, where you’ll get the chance to raise your glass to the best communication professionals in the industry. Plus, you’ll enjoy a sumptuous meal, outstanding entertainment, topped off with music and dancing.
Never attended the IABC World Conference before? Wondering how to get the most out of it? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Join IABC leaders on the first full day of programming for a short session where we’ll explain the ins and outs of the program, background on the different events and top tips on getting the best out of your conference experience.
The Meet and Greet session starts at 8:15 am on Monday, 4 June. Just grab a coffee and breakfast at the Hub exhibit hall and head over to the gathering in room 518 ABC at the Palais des congrès de Montréal. This event is included with a standard/full or Monday day pass registration.
If you can’t make it to the Meet and Greet, we still want you to feel welcome! As you register, we’ll provide you with a “First Time” ribbon. IABC leaders will be looking out for those ribbons so that they can support your conference experience and answer any questions you may have. And, you can stop by IABC Central in the exhibit hall on Monday and Tuesday where IABC staff will be there to welcome you and to talk through any questions you may have.
The Staffbase customer panel presentation, “Reaching Non-Desk Workers: Real-Life Lessons from SAK Construction and US AutoLogistics,” will be on Tuesday, 5 June, 8–8:45 a.m.
Communication with a non-desk workforce is an ongoing struggle for many organizations. Scott Linke, Marketing Manager for SAK Construction, and Troy Griggsby, Communications & Brand Manager for US AutoLogistics, discuss their challenges in reaching non-desk workers and how they combine traditional and digital channels to make their communication efforts successful. The panel is completed by Staffbase co-founder Frank Wolf who shares typical questions and answers about popular mobile channels like employee apps. Participants can expect to get hands-on advice and authentic stories on how to reach them all!
As we prepare for the IABC World Conference, we invite you to ask the CEOs in your network to take part in a survey that will be featured at the event. The survey is short and will take only 3–4 minutes to complete.
The survey will measure a CEO’s assessment of the strategic contribution of business communicators to the achievement of their organization’s business objectives. Moderated by Hugues Mousseau, vice president and partner with Syrus Reputation, the results of Syrus Reputation’s 2018 Global CEO Survey will be presented during the CEO panel discussion at the World Conference on 5 June under the theme “Are business communicators the next chief strategy officers?”
Thank you for your help with getting CEO responses from across jurisdictions, industries, organization types and sizes. If you have questions, please contact the World Conference Program Advisory Chair, Neil Griffiths.
Montréal is the perfect place to be hungry! Lauded as a foodie haven, Montréal has cultivated a modern haute food culture. Blend in the Old World charm and you have the perfect ingredients for an evening of fun, food, and fantastic conversation!
What is Dine-Around?
Dine-Around is a long-time IABC tradition where you can take an evening to explore the city via a wide array of cuisines with small groups of 8 to 10 of your fellow communicators.
When is Dine-Around?
Day: Monday, 4 June 2018
Time: Dine-Around group hosts will meet at 6:30 p.m. at the Palais de congrès de Montréal. Participants, please arrive by 6:45 as we will depart from the Palais des congrès de Montréal at 7 p.m. Restaurant reservations are at 7:45 p.m.
How do we pay for Dine-Around?
Each diner is responsible for his or her own check. We have arranged for separate checks with each restaurant for your convenience. If you choose to split a menu item, please designate whose check will cover it and arrange privately to reimburse that person for your share.
Where is Dine-Around?
The Dine-Around is taking place at 23 restaurants around Montréal. Most are within walking distance of the Palais des congrès de Montréal. Others will require a short taxi ride. Low-cost and mid-range options are available, as are opportunities to experience high-end cuisine prepared by world-renowned chefs.
The Montréal chapter of the IABC is delighted to invite the entire Québec business communications and public relations industry to join us for a very special event that happens only once in a decade. Organized by the Montréal chapter, in collaboration with the Alliance des cabinets de relations publiques du Québec (ACRPQ) and in association with the Société québécoise des professionnels en relations publiques du Québec (SQPRP), this Happy Hour will be a rare occasion to:
- Meet communication and public relations professionals from around the world who will be gathered in Montréal for the IABC World Conference.
- Network with peers from major professional associations in Québec, such as IABC, ACRPQ, SQPRP, RPSF and student associations.