Conference Highlights

See these new sessions and plan your IABC World Conference schedule

Just announced! Nearly 50 breakout sessions for the 2019 IABC World Conference are now online. You can browse the list, search by keyword, sort by track, click on any session for details and start planning your personal conference schedule in advance.

Don’t forget to book your room early too, as the conference hotels tend to fill up quickly. There are discounted room blocks available at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver and Hyatt Regency Vancouver while supplies last. Breakout sessions and most meals will happen at the Hyatt and we’ll have special events and general sessions at the Fairmont. The hotels are directly across the street from each other, so it will be easy to go back and forth.

If you missed our previous keynote announcements, award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien will give the opening talk on the state of the media, Corporate Rebels continue their mission to make work fun and, in the coming weeks, we’ll announce two more keynote speakers and additional breakout sessions.

It’s the can’t-miss conference for business communicators and it’s less than five months away! Register now if you haven’t already and we’ll see you 9–12 June in Vancouver for the 2019 IABC World Conference.

Register today!

Book your discounted hotel room while supplies last.

#IABC19 Corporate Rebels: They’ll change what you think you know

The Corporate Rebels are on a mission to make work more fun. They quit their frustrating, corporate jobs and set out to visit the world’s most inspiring organizations, from well-known examples such as Spotify, Google and Patagonia to lesser-known companies that organize work in radically different ways.

Based in The Netherlands, the Corporate Rebels’ blog is read in more than 100 countries and they’ve been featured in the New York Times, Forbes, The Huffington Post, The Guardian, and the BBC. They join a 2019 IABC World Conference keynote lineup that already features award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien, with even more speaker and breakout session announcements on the way. Keep an eye on your inbox, the World Conference website and the #IABC19 hashtag.

Register now and join us for the can’t-miss conference of the year for business communicators. We’ll see you 9–12 June in Vancouver for the 2019 IABC World Conference!

Learn more about the Corporate Rebels

This session sponsored by:


Opening IABC World Conference keynote Soledad O’Brien to speak on the state of the media

When IABC signed with other organizations to support the freedom of the press, we showed our deep commitment for this global value. With award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien as our opening keynote speaker, we’ll carry that commitment forward at the 2019 IABC World Conference.

Fitting with this year’s theme, “Think Forward,” we’ll look at major changes affecting the communication landscape, including the freedom of the press and its relation to the global business community. We’ll consider how changes to technology and the media are affecting our ability to stay true to the ideals of ethics, truth and transparency.

Soledad O’Brien will draw from her experiences to discuss the challenges and transformations to the global media. Even as the media is under assault (e.g., disappearance of journalists, government distrust), the world is relying on it more than ever for the voices, facts and revelations it brings forward.

Make your career a priority and join us for the can’t-miss conference of the year for business communicators. Register now and take four days to learn, grow and discover at the 2019 IABC World Conference, happening 9–12 June in Vancouver.

Learn more about Soledad O’Brien.

This session is sponsored by: 




Register today!

How can you make a conference reach around the world?

2018 IABC World Conference in Montréal

Actionable strategic insights from #IABC18—for participants—and event and conference organizers…

This year IABC’s World Conference got its mojo back. In-person participation was at a five-year high and a new record was set for virtual participation. Well done Team IABC.

Now what might we learn from this that can be used to help you make your next event or conference reach around the world? This brief article breaks down the numbers, and shares strategic actionable insights – and good practice ideas from a range of global voices.

It’ll help your hard work reach further, create more connection and help set you up for deeper post-event insights and results. And it’ll also help you invite more diverse voices to participate – both in and beyond the room.

“Develop diversity and inclusion as a core strength. We know that diverse companies are more profitable and deliver stronger business results…”  – Ginger D Homan, IABC Chair

Read More

IABC World Conference is coming to Vancouver in 2019!

Breathtakingly beautiful, with a mild climate, and heralded as one of most uniquely diverse cities in Canada, Vancouver is the chosen location for the IABC World Conference! Join us for IABC’s premier annual conference designed for the communication professional.

Save the dates

The World Conference will take place Sunday, 9 June, through Wednesday, 12 June, at two hotels: Hyatt Vancouver and Fairmont Vancouver.

If you attended the 2018 conference in Montréal, then you know that you’re in store for an incredible experience. You’ll get the latest trends, solutions and answers to critical questions facing the communication profession. Along the way, you’ll make valuable connections that will support you and your career for years to come.

Pre-registration discount

Throughout August, IABC members will be able to take advantage of a big discount for the 2019 World Conference by pre-registering. If you’re not an IABC member, it’s one more great reason to join!


Join us in Vancouver!


Apply to join the World Conference Program Advisory Committee

Help shape the 2019 IABC World Conference! You can help advance the communication profession, meet thought leaders and new colleagues, and learn about new trends in the field by volunteering for the IABC Program Advisory Committee (PAC).

This opportunity is a great fit for people with tighter schedules who cannot make a huge time commitment but want to make big impact. We are searching for a diversity of disciplines within the communication industry and geographic representation.

One of the biggest tasks of the PAC is evaluating speakers for break-out sessions, recommending keynotes and amplifying the marketing promotions via social media.

Interested? Fill out this form and we’ll be in touch.

Apply to serve on the 2019 World Conference Program Advisory Committee

2018 World Conference recap, day three: Making leaders great communicators

Photo credit: Sabrina Belzil

by Charmane Russell

On day three of the 2018 IABC World Conference, the theme of the communication crossroads continued to dominate presentations and conversations, particularly as this applies at a leadership level.

General session: CEO panel

The opening general session, a panel moderated by Hugues Mousseau, vice president and partner with Syrus Reputation, introduced three CEOs: Luc Sabbatini, of PBSC Urban Solutions; Eugène Lapierre, of the Rogers Cup; and Ralph Hosker, of Belron Canada. Central to the discussion was whether and how communication can make a demonstrable contribution to business success and whether business communicators are positioned to be the next chief strategy officers.

On whether there has been an evolution in the role of communicators in business, the panelists agreed that there has been a rapid transformation, rather than a slow evolution. Lapierre cited an example: The discourse related to narrative did not exist 10 years ago—today it is central to the C-suite.

What can communicators do more of to become more relevent? “We want advice,” said Lapierre, “so we are a couple of steps ahead of the game.” Said Sabbatini, “Communication is a long-term investment. We need to be innovative—find new ways of doing things.”

“Employee engagement is a company’s best defense [in reputation management],” said Hosker. “Be connected to the organization you are working with,” he added. “Give me feedback on what people are thinking and feeling, honestly and clearly, and in a constructive way, with ideas of how to take things forward.”

As part of the discussion, Moisseau released initial results of the Syrus’ 2018 CEO Reputation survey, which included:

  • 84% of CEOs surveyed said they couldn’t do without their business communicators.
  • 92% felt that communications is ROI-positive, rather than a cost center.
  • The main obstacles to good communication were: (1) budget/financial resources; (2) team expertise and experience, (3) organizational culture, (4) business acumen and (5) understanding company objectives.
  • Most valuable areas of contribution: (1) generating goodwill (reputation); (2) protecting reputation; and (3) employee engagement.
  • 77% of CEOs felt that communication has become more important over the past five years.

And, will communicators shape strategy in the future? According to Sabbatini, it’s team work, and part of the ethos and culture of the company, so not down to one role. Yes, said Hosker, you could. But, you need to be good at strategy, because communication and strategy are not one and the same thing.

Making leaders great communicators

Colin Hatfield’s afternoon breakout session was a really useful follow-up to the CEO session: He pointed out that while communication lies at the heart of leadership, leaders are often ill-prepared for specific communication challenges. What’s more, they are often under-served by the communication professionals who support them.

He asked the question: “Do businesses tolerate financially illiterate leaders?” By extension then, why would we accept mediocrity in leadership communication? He notes that we have the opportunity to amplify leadership through communication, and presented a three-part manifesto for leadership communication.

Practical communication

A presentation by Lisa Hartenberger, director of global communications at Tenneco, and Kate Bushnell, president of the Grossman Group, in a presentation on a best-in-class plant communication, demonstrated in very practical terms the role of communication in improving engagement and, as a consequence, improving production and safety.

An interesting part of their approach was to ensure focus, adopting a process of triage, so that the most effort went into addressing the plants that had the poorest engagement scores. There were two other determinants of the selection process—critical mass and a readiness for change.

They spoke about the need to “speak the language of leaders,” the need to adopt a servant-leadership approach, and the need to get early wins to ensure that the plant leaders themselves bought into the process—all themes that recurred throughout the day.


As a post-script, the organizers of this year’s conference added some innovative engagement processes under the banner of Unconference. These included game changer sessions, an Open Space session to explore those topics that had not been covered elsewhere, group mentoring for newcomers to the profession, as well as off-site experiences. And, of course, the evening closed with the annual Excellence Gala honoring the winners of the 2018 Gold Quill Awards for communication excellence.

About the author

Charmane Russell founded R&A Strategic Communications in 1999. The agency offers strategic counsel and implementation support on reputation management, communication and reporting strategies and human rights. R&A is niched in the natural resources sector with more than 35 clients in South Africa and abroad. Russell is the spokesperson for the South Africa Chamber of Mines. Previously, she headed up corporate communication for Anglo American, before she moved to AngloGold Limited when that company listed as a separate entity.

World Conference recap Monday: Inspire, connect, engage, collaborate

Keynote Anab Jain, photo credit: Sabrina Belzil

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.


2018 World Conference recap day one: Changing how we think about our profession

Opening general session, photo credit: Sabrina Belzil

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, photo credit: Sabrina Belzil

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.


Cooking up fresh ideas using #OpenSpace at #IABC18

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)

You’ll need:

  • People
  • 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):

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.

Specifically one of the many conversations that took place during the Open Space at #Eurocomm18, organised by the IABC EMENA Region—and expertly convened by Ian Andersen and Mike Klein.   

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.
[These insights are summarised and listed further down].

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.

2018 #Eurocomm18 Open Space Discussion - Making conference more Talk With than Talk At

Table: Some of the examples from the #Eurocomm18 Open Space Discussion – Making conference more Talk With than Talk At.

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.

Ask an open ended question in advance

Survey the audience in advance

Give participants home work / advance work

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!

It is hosted by Michael Nord and Mike Klein. You’ll be in good hands.

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.