tekom - Europe

5 days, 5 live streams, over 160 lectures and 1810 conference participants: a review of the first virtual tcworld conference 2020

Kiriaki Kampouridou

The tcworld conference has also remained true to its concept as a virtual format: as usual, a wide range of topics and a high level of knowledge transfer. Online discussions were also lively, with active networking taking place at the tekom fair via the event app.

After months of excitement and an intensely creative period, the tcworld conference opened its virtual gates on November 2, 2020. This year, participants were again able to immerse themselves deeply in the diverse program and receive further training in technical communication: With five simultaneous streams, over 160 lectures, tutorials and meetups, as well as the parallel tekom trade fair on the event app, they were able to draw from the full range of options. On average, around 4,000 seats were occupied daily in specialist lectures, tutorials and meetups.

Favorites among the lectures

Besides the German-language streams, a place was also reserved for the international satellite conferences. Certainly, when it comes to the popularity of topics and lectures, some tendencies over the years can be observed. A comparison with the English-language favorites is also interesting here.
For example, one of the most popular lectures was "Current Legal Developments" by Jens-Uwe Heuer-James with an audience of almost 500, which dealt with the major political topics of COVID-19 and Brexit as well as legal practice using concrete examples.
The inspiring keynote by Steffi Burkhardt, Human Capital Evangelist, "Millennials – Drivers for Cultural Change in Organizations" was also well attended. As the mouthpiece of Generation Y, she provided interesting insights into the thoughts and actions of young people and the change they can bring about in the world. The English keynote “Unveiling the Free, Flexible World of Knowledge”, delivered by Cruce Saunders on day 4, was also highly appreciated by the audience, the participants finding it very inspiring and informative.
For example, one of the winners among the English-language presentations on day 3, with 203 participants, was the presentation "Technical Writers Creating Storyboards" by Anu Granroth. The favorite for the day among the German-language presentations, with 356 listeners, was Dieter Gust’s "Information Molecules, Topics and Microdocs – or Farewell to the Document". One of the best-attended English-language presentations during the conference week was "How to Rapidly Create Documentation within an Agile Process" by Matt Reiner.

There was also a lively exchange of ideas in the presentation chats available afterwards, which saw intensive engagement by participants.

Graphic recordings: technical communication as art

Some of the lectures were "traced" live following the "graphic recording" procedure. More creations can be found on this page.

Interactive participation also at the tekom fair

It goes without saying that the interpersonal exchange in a live trade fair, including the hustle and bustle and the babble of voices, cannot be reproduced virtually. Nevertheless, most of the offerings were still available via the event app.
80 exhibitors also presented 400 different services and innovative products and held consultation meetings with visitors via video calls. More than 2,100 visitors used the event app to visit the trade fair. In addition, visitors were able to get information on over 80 job offers on the job market.
More than 100 tool presentations were also a magnet for visitors, called up over 17,000 times. Up to and including Friday, a total of 10,797 contacts were made and 27,288 messages sent!

Café tekom

Café tekom offered visitors a place for spontaneous meetings and topic-related exchange. Numerous technical communication experts sat at the expert tables. The regional groups as well as the country organizations of tekom Europe were also pleased to have interested guests at their tables. Positive feedback was also received here: One of the participants, for example, thanked the others for the fact that “in the café one could talk to previously unfamiliar people in an unbiased manner” – despite the lockdown!

Social events with a difference

Live communication ran over a Twitter wall, thus enabling our community to hold a small but excellent lottery: Under the motto "We're all in the same boat", the participants were asked to fold a paper boat and let their individual design sail into the open sea via social media. The winner received a free ticket to the tekom Frühjahrstagung in April 2021.
The popular raffle at the end of each tcworld conference remained part of the event and thus, high-quality prizes were also raffled off among the conference participants during the closing event.

Knowledge bits to take away

The experts shared valuable knowledge in their lectures and tutorials. We have compiled some key quotes for you here:

Kirk St.Amant:

"Interaction is learned behavior that becomes a reflex."

Axel Luther:

“Up to 80% of the effect of videos is caused by the sound (in both the positive and negative sense) – it is therefore very important to make the sound of a video (music and speech) as professional as possible.”

Stine Jensen:

“Terminology should be collaborative because it improves quality (as long as it is maintained). Like in any human relation, talking together is always a good idea.”

Leah Guren:

“Documenting medical devices is a challenging but rewarding TechComm career niche."

Anu Granroth:

“To avoid pitfalls and wasting your time when creating visual user guides and graphics, start planning the storyboard early on in the process.”

Jonatan Lundin:

“Avoid writing conceptual information for beginners. As beginners lack relevant domain knowledge, they are likely to face challenges in finding and understanding conceptual information. Conceptual information is relevant for advanced users who want to learn some detail, or refresh their knowledge.”

Matt Reiner:

“Many teams and organizations are talking about ‘being more agile’ but it's hard to know what that actually means. This talk explores how agile teams can rapidly develop and deliver documentation alongside their product.”

Florian Kadelbach / Roland Schmeling:

“Text and language in instructional videos are didactically worthwhile. Our current usability tests confirm this.”