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tech comm – elearning – information experience


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Tech Comm conferences on a shoestring

May and June are big months for conferences and events ahead of the summer lull and before things get going again in September. The ISTC calendar has a taste of what’s on offer in the UK and internationally. Whether you are self-funding or persuading your company to part with funds, if the budget has evaporated and you don’t want to miss out, read on.

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Early bird and last minute deals

Like booking budget flights, timing is everything. Conference and event fees often come out of training budgets agreed at the start of the financial year. If you are super keen to go to a particular event, ask early to get the cost included in a budget, have a compelling business case ready, and go for the cheapest early-bird rate.

Alternatively, take the last-minute approach. Unspent budget can reappear towards the end of the financial year. If there’s an event on close to the end of your company’s financial year, wait it out, state your business case, and go for it.

Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking..

Submitting a proposal and speaking usually earns a waiver of the conference fee at least. It’s unlikely to be the sole driver if you’ve never tried it before, I include myself here, but I’ve also seen colleagues go for it and never look back. Power to them.

Creative travel planning

Depending on the host country and city, taking the conference hotel price out of the equation may just drop the price under your budget signer’s pain threshold. Before the meteoric rise of Airbnb, there were, and still are, other options for immersing yourself in your host city on a budget. I stayed in a youth hostel in Scandinavia, within walking distance of the conference venue, for a significant saving. I made my own bed and emptied my trash at the end of my stay, felt pretty good about it and the Wifi was free and superior to many corporate hotels I’ve stayed in. Check out YHA.org.uk for UK and international bookings.

Free, new and smaller events

Time and travel expenses may be easier to find than training budget. There is a blossoming of free events and meet ups, and conferences with a wide range of price tags. They cover a great breadth of interests: User Experience (UX), coding, content strategy, information architecture and of course tech comm. Find the groups and professional bodies, start following them on social media, or start your own group. The dynamic and collaborative nature of these groups means you can also have a bigger influence on what gets on the agenda.

I went to the 2-day soap! conference in Krakow last year for under GBP 100 plus a low-cost airline flight. It had big-name key note speakers such as Rahel Anne Bailie (@rahelab), workshops and a fresh vibe.

World IA Day is on my list for 2016.

Online events

As technology and bandwidth improves, live or recorded streaming of selected sessions can be free of charge or cheaper than going in person. STC Summit 2015 is offering a virtual track this year. Vendors such as Adobe offer a whole range of live and recorded events.

You’re worth it

Regardless of the cost, the starting point is you. What type of event is going to be of maximum benefit to you, your professional development, and will help you to deliver greater value to your customers and  users? Then go after it, use some of the thrifty tips above, and have a great learning and networking year!