by Tom Droege, IABC/Tulsa VP of Finance
When I signed up for the 2011 IABC Leadership Institute, I already knew what to expect. I envisioned a sea of beleaguered business communicators wearing giant lanyards, chugging gallons of coffee to stay awake as a series of speakers struggled to get their Power Point presentations to display properly. You know, one Dilbert moment after another.
Turns out I was wrong, except for the lanyards and coffee. I had no idea of the scope of IABC until I went to the seminar in Nashville in February and met people from all over the world. By noon on the first day I had chatted with professional communicators from Cisco Systems in California, Verizon in New York and a major law firm in Colorado.
I later met people who practice our line of work in such far-flung places as Johannesburg, South Africa and Newfoundland, Canada. The “I” in IABC became obvious at the conference in Nashville as the foreign accents clashed with the southern drawl of more local folks. It was a good sample of the some 15,000 people from more than 80 countries that belong to IABC.
Then there were the break-out sessions. Unless break-dancing is involved, that term usually conjures images of uptight people in a circle of chairs watching the session leader carefully write on a white board. Not in Nashville. Get people out of the cubicle farm for a day or two and it’s like business communicators gone wild! The afternoon sessions were refreshingly fun and useful as we shared ideas for common challenges like chapter board succession plans, member recruitment and finances. I even walked away with a Music City guitar pick.
By cocktail time, we were all brothers and sisters in communication. IABC/Tulsa President Steve Higgins and I missed out on the Southern Region Reception and crashed the Canadian happy hour. We later regretted that when we saw our fellow Southern Region members wearing purple and gold Mardi Gras beads as they expounded about the free Hurricanes. Turns out the 2011 IABC Southern Region Conference will be held in New Orleans from Oct. 12-14. Who’s in?