Conference Highlights

The Excellence Gala: An evening to remember

Held each year in celebration of the highest achievements in the communication profession, the glamorous Excellence Gala at the IABC World Conference is the communication professional’s night of nights, filled with inspiration, delicious food, entertainment and great company.

At the Excellence Gala, IABC honors Gold Quill Award winners, as well as special awards like the Jake Wittmer Research Award, Business Issue Award and Sharon Berzok Award. The Gold Quill Awards, IABC’s premier awards program, recognizes and fosters excellence in the field of business communication, and recipients from all over the world are recognized for their achievements.

Celebrate the best

The Excellence Gala is a black-tie-optional celebration that has long been one of IABC’s most prestigious events. It’s a perfect opportunity to celebrate the hard work and accomplishments of your team or clients.

This year, the Excellence Gala will be held on Tuesday, 16 June 2020, at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.

Learn more about the Excellence Gala….

Register now!

Join the Excellence Gala or become a sponsor.

Need a business case for attending the World Conference?

Professional development support is not just a critical part of advancing your career, it’s an important investment in the organization you serve. That’s why we’ve developed a letter designed to help you make a convincing case for why you should get the time and resources to join your peers at the world’s largest annual global conference for professional communicators.

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Join #IABC20 World Conference keynote Abigail Posner, head of strategy at Google’s Brand Unit

Abigail PosnerThe world is changing rapidly. We need to innovate and get creative if we’re going to continue to capture people’s attention and deliver results. But how do we do it?

This is one of the questions we’ll answer at the 2020 IABC World Conference in Chicago next June, as we connect and learn around our theme of “Shift: #AreYouReady.” And we’ve just lined up the perfect keynote speaker to help drive the discussion and inspire the ideas required to be an effective communication professional going forward.

Abigail Posner is the head of strategy at the Brand Unit, Google’s creative think tank for agencies and brands. She’ll join us on Monday, 15 June, for the keynote session, “Cracking Creativity: Re-Engaging Our Innate Creativity for Greater Productivity and Growth.” She’s just the first of several keynotes we’ll be announcing, along with dozens of breakout sessions that will leave you energized and ready for what’s ahead.

With conference rates going up after 6 March, right now is a great time to registerbook your discounted hotel room and start planning your travel. The hotel block sold out last year, so act quickly. We look forward to seeing you in Chicago, 14–17 June, for #IABC20!

Register today!

Apply or recommend a keynote speaker for #IABC20 World Conference, 14-17 June, Chicago

The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) is considering potential keynotes for its 2020 World Conference, happening 14–17 June 2020 in Chicago. IABC is the largest global association for communication professionals, and our last annual World Conference drew more than 1,300 attendees from nearly 40 countries.

Here are the criteria we consider when selecting a keynote speaker:

  • An authentic, dynamic and effortless speaker with a commanding stage presence who is able to connect with audiences in a meaningful way.
  • Proven ability to present to large (1,000 attendees or more), global audiences at commercial business conferences.
  • Knowledgeable about international business with an understanding of future challenges and an ability to speak to the relevance and critical value of communication for organizations.
  • Prepared to offer breakthrough thinking, innovative ideas and creative solutions that will resonate with an audience of international business communicators.

Our theme is Shift: #AreYouReady? We are looking for keynotes who are in a position to help communication professionals to grow their knowledge, shift their mindset and take on new strategies to support their organizations to thrive and grow.

Past keynotes

The keynote speakers for the 2019 conference were Soledad O’Brien, Celeste Headlee, The Corporate Rebels and Peter Sheahan.

Other past keynote speakers have included Maya Angelou, Guy Kawasaki, Seth Godin, Robert Kennedy Jr., Bill McDermott and Salman Rushdie.

Selection process

Leaders of IABC’s Program Advisory Committee (PAC) will review proposals regularly through the end of this year. Submit soon for early consideration. We typically receive more than 100 recommendations, from which a shortlist of 20 will be developed and 4–5 keynotes selected. The first keynote will be announced in November. We look forward to hearing from you!

To apply or recommend a keynote, please fill out this short form.

Get the latest news in the 2019 World Conference Brief

In the latest issue of the IABC World Conference Brief, you’ll find the latest news and exclusive content related to the event.

If you’re attending the conference, the Brief gives you a sample of some of what you’ll experience. And if you can’t make it this year, you still get the benefit of content that will offer new perspectives on some of the most challenging issues facing the profession.

In this issue, you’ll find:

  • Highlights of the Tuesday keynote with the Corporate Rebels.
  • Options for pre-conference activities, from earning your certification to offsite tours of Vancouver.
  • Articles from conference speakers.
  • Details on the activity feed in the conference app.

You can also catch up on past issues on the archive page.

Interested in advertising in the IABC World Conference Brief? Check out options in the media kit.

Sponsor Insights: Employee communication—An action plan for success

Back when I ran an employee communication group at Verizon, little did I know the position was setting me up to one day run an agency of my own. My whole 20+ year career seemed to be focused on either marketing or employee communication. And more often than not, both. The two actually go hand in hand but, I dare say, employee communication is a tad bit harder. Why? Because you have to fight for every yard gained with little to no budget while, in contrast, marketing budgets are rich and assumed necessary to the success of the business. Let that sink in.

Employee communicators are usually a ragtag bunch, made up of professionals from customer service, operations, IT, HR and the like. With little to no budget you become a pseudo-expert at everything (Photoshop, Illustrator, video, audio—you name it). You take pride in some of the communication that go out and, due to the volume of incoming content, you admittedly tick the box on the others. That all changed for me with one visit to Southwest Airlines Headquarters at Love Field.

What I thought I knew about employee communication changed in a single day while being guided around their facility. From the moment I walked into the SWA headquarters I noticed everything was branded appropriately. There were no one-off logos, there were no special projects with a separate theme, there were no off brand colors; it was as if the marketing team took over employee communication and blended it with the external brand…it all became seamlessly Southwest. The most astounding moment of the day was when the employee communication manager stopped a pilot at random in the hallway and asked him, “What are our three financial goals for this quarter and where are we at with each?” He gave us the complete answer without missing a beat then politely walked off. I was stunned.

The light bulb went off and I made this action plan right then and there:

  • Partner with marketing to get source files of external ads from the agency. This simple act allowed me to create internal communications about the products/services with the same look and feel that our customers and employees were seeing externally.
  • Use freelancers to help create larger projects (i.e. sales incentives, CS initiatives, and overall employee campaigns). The projects MUST align with the brand. Later, I replaced the individual freelancers with an agency once I was able to grow my budget.
  • Align employee communication with sales. After all, what is the sole purpose of employee communication (or any department for that matter) if not to facilitate the success of sales?
  • Ask for more money, and do not accept “no” for an answer. It’s a simple fact. In order to have influence in the corporate world, you need a budget. In order to build a budget, you must show a need for one. That’s where partnering with sales comes in handy. You will need to invest the time and do the research to prove that if you communicate to sales more effectively, sales will achieve “x” lift and it will cost “y.” Then you need to deliver. If you cannot provide a revenue lift number (i.e. sales generator) you are a cost center. We all know how cost centers are viewed.
  • Lastly, it’s all about the brand. The look and feel of the communication should be in alignment with the brand. No more department logos, no more special logos, no more sales meetings with whatever theme the production company thinks up. No more one-off projects. It all must not only be aligned with the brand, but also must provide value to the end user. There is a lot of useless content floating around corporate America, and without a plan to fully address the dissemination of content you will be forever spinning your wheels.

It’s really all about alignment but be prepared to work hard and face resistance along the way. However, the end result will be a more efficient, effective and streamlined way of communicating to all employees. The goal, as I see it, is to have every employee saying exactly the same thing when asked a question. I often think of that pilot’s answer; that is employee communication at its best.

Sponsor of the Excellence Gala & Closing Keynote / Balihoo Productions, has one mission—bringing employee communication to life. Think of them as the creative partner you have always wanted to handle corporate events, media & animation, employee engagement and videos.

The Balihoo Network is comprised of top-notch creative and production experts, copywriters and artists. They put only those specialists on projects who are skilled at the particular delivery methodology each project requires, no apprentices, junior associates, or people who want to “learn on the job.” Whatever the project or professional dilemma is, Balihoo has a solution. Just as important as who is viewing the creative is who is behind it—don’t settle when it comes to communication projects.

Author / Michael Bly is the creative director for Balihoo Productions, an employee communication agency.  He has worked in the global marketing and employee communication fields for well over 20+ years with corporations such as Verizon, Level 3 and AT&T. Bly holds an MBA in global marketing from ASU—Thunderbird.

Sponsor Insights: Leadership engagement made easy using Yammer (or enterprise social)

We live in an age of digital disruption. Effective, resilient organizations—the ones that will survive and thrive—will be organizations that are inherently creative and innovative. And that creativity and innovation will be driven by an engaged workforce and a new culture of work. We encourage leaders of organizations to be social, mobile and transparent, yet many leaders didn’t get to where they are today by being those things.

Companies with higher engagement report higher profits, as well as improvements across the scorecard such as better employee retention, customer satisfaction, and sales metrics. Sadly, employee engagement is low worldwide, despite many leaders recognizing that they must transform the way their teams connect to foster open communications and engage everyone, from the executive suite to Firstline workers.

There’s opportunity for leaders everywhere, regardless of their relative place in the org chart, to connect and engage their workforce by creating an executive communication plan and sharing that plan at scale. To do so requires a comprehensive game plan that includes a mix of events, blogs, video, news, and resources—all promoted across intranet sites and social enterprise channels. Luckily, you can do this all with Yammer.

Create a CEO connection group

Leaders need to inspire, guide, and align a workforce to the mission and core purposes of their business. If your organization doesn’t already have a dedicated space for the CEO and their team to connect with the broader employee base, start by creating a CEO Connection group. This encourages ongoing two-way dialog between employees and leaders and gains trust that leadership is interested in feedback and improving the employee experience.

Use this dedicated channel for leaders to post what is top-of-mind, address any current issues, share strategy for product launches, and discuss highlights and learnings from customer visits. Prompt leaders to share photos, videos, and updates from their mobile devices while they travel or provide more detailed messages from their desks at the home office and reach their entire employee base to build and reinforce a sense of culture and shared initiative. To see how this works in the real world, check out this interview with two executive leaders and what their personal thoughts and insights are to using Yammer.

Use the Yammer conversation as part of your next all-hands

Additionally, leaders can work with corporate comms to host Q&As—either live-streamed using Live Events in Yammer or virtually using YamJams or an AMA style event for real time engagement—both of which are accessible from any device. Employees can learn from leaders, share feedback and ideas, and ask questions. The leadership team can respond and provide their point of view, directly addressing what’s most important for employees.

This type of engagement removes the distance between remote and geographically dispersed employees and leadership while co-creating culture and taking steps towards reaching the company’s human and business goals. Afterwards, the conversation and learnings continue beyond the event timeframe. This unlocks the event for employees in different time zones, offering the ability to watch and participate via recordings, translation services, mobile viewing, search, and even transcription, all of which are now possible with Live Events in Yammer.

Encourage leaders to ask big, open questions

Tools like Yammer democratize opportunity to contribute. Everyone is given the power to share, ask, and learn—meaning that crowdsourcing, ideating, driving innovation, and taking the pulse of the employee base becomes natural. To help get the wheels in motion, encourage leadership teams ask big, open ended questions and promote these events throughout all levels of the organization.

Asking questions regarding process or product improvement, servicing ideas, solutions to assist customers, or new innovations that haven’t been addressed can spark feedback from all corners of the organization. Employees can post and reply and provide ideas from their own experiences and daily work expertise, creating the opportunity for unexpected innovations and solutions that could ultimately change the course of the company and the bottom line. Additional strategies, conversation starters, and tactics to spur engagement can be found in the Leadership Connection Deep Dive.

Reply and react to conversations

At Microsoft, we’ve seen success when leaders move beyond simply broadcasting top-down messages and begin to directly engage in conversations. While this can look different at different levels, research shows that adoption increases when executives engage directly in conversations.

In order to achieve this, you, as communication professionals, may need to curate conversations that require attention from your leader and help with messaging. As a rule of thumb, we suggest that for every post the leader initiates, they also give two replies and three “likes.” We’ve seen these simple actions of liking and replying elevate the level of conversation in the group.

Not every post in Yammer warrants a response from the CEO, but a simple “like” can go a long way. The notion that the leaders are reading and liking messages sends a message of empowerment, a nod of encouragement, and conveys that leadership is tuned into the conversations happening around them. These can easily be done through the mobile app while the leaders are on the road. Additionally, we suggest 3-5 posts beyond the CEO Connection group to improve the online presence of the leader across the larger network.


Premium World Conference Sponsor/ Microsoft, is the leading platform and productivity company for the mobile-first, cloud-first world, and its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Everyday, customers across the globe engage and communicate with people across their organizations using the power of Yammer and Office 365.  

Introducing the 2019 World Conference Brief

IABC is excited to announce that we have partnered with B2B publisher MultiView to produce the official e-newsletter for the 2019 World Conference event, the IABC World Conference Brief.

With this customized conference publication, we’ll offer a curated selection of both World Conference news and insights on critical communication issues. If you’re attending the event, you’ll have a head start on the some of the learning you’ll experience at the event. And if you can’t make it this year, you’ll still get the benefit of content that will offer new perspectives on some of the most challenging issues facing the profession. The IABC World Conference Brief will keep you connected to the experience before, during and after the event, from keynote highlights to event photos to insights from speakers.

Look for the IABC World Conference Brief in your inbox every other Wednesday (the next issue will come out on 8 May) and each day of the conference. We’ll also have a couple of post-event issues that will recap key takeaways from this year’s event. And you can check out past issues on the archive page.

For more information about advertising in the IABC World Conference Brief, check out the media kit

Spice up your 2019 World Conference experience with offsite tours!

Come a bit early to the World Conference and you’ll have the chance to experience Vancouver for the first time or like never before. If you’re a foodie, a cyclist, enjoy a great walk or love exploring the world from the sky, you are in luck!

We have something for everyone. Take a plane ride with a stop for a lovely lunch, tour the city on a bike, discover hidden treasures as you walk through town or experience the best food and libations Vancouver has to offer.

This is your chance to connect with your team, meet new people and fill your cup with enjoyment before the start of the event. It’s important to relax and get refreshed before you plunge into some in-depth learning. Don’t miss this opportunity!

These experiences happen on the afternoon of Sunday, 9 June, so be sure you arrive in time. Spots are limited, so don’t wait to sign up.


Learn more…

Add offsite tours to your registration!