Attending a professional conference is a fun and engaging way to energize your career, discover new opportunities, expand your network, and build professional relationships that will last for years to come.
A great conference will provide you with practical tools and knowledge, teach you about the successes and failures of leaders in your field, and help you discover trends and technologies that are moving your industry forward.
Since content departments are rarely overflowing with budget, you’ll want to choose a conference that provides the most bang for your buck – whether because of its focus, format, size or location.
Unfortunately, the Coronvairus pandemic has led to widespread travel restrictions and the need for caution. Most conferences have had to reschedule, shift online, or cancel altogether.
Fortunately, most of the events on our list are proceeding in good fashion. So although the date may have changed or you won’t be able to take that trip abroad, you can still build relationships and skills in this time of uncertainty and change.
So without further ado, here are the top 13 conferences to attend in 2020 if you work in the creation, strategy, implementation or management of technical communications.
- Technical Communication Summit (May 17-20, virtual event)
- Confab (May 18-20, virtual event)
- Omnichannel X (June 8-11, virtual event)
- ContentTECH Summit (August 10-12, virtual event)
- ConVEx (September 21-23, virtual event)
- LavaCon (October 25-28, New Orleans)
- tcworld conference (November 3-5, Stuttgart and online)
- CIDM Best Practices (November 16-18, Baltimore)
- Digital Experience Conference (Postponed, Washington, DC)
- CCMS Link (Postponed, Montreal)
- AIIP Annual Conference (Canceled)
Technical Communication Summit
Date: May 17-20, 2020 (new date)
Location: Virtual event
Attracting over 600 attendees and 40 exhibitors, this is considered one of the premier conferences for education and networking among technical communicators. This year’s theme is “Career Vision 20/20”, with the goal of helping people at every stage of their tech comm careers.
Sessions at the Technical Communication Summit are offered in a variety of tracks and presentation types, and you can personalize your itinerary based on your specific interests. The following areas will be covered:
- Content Design and Delivery
- Tools and Technologies
- Training Development and Delivery
- Project Management
- Leadership and Career Development.
Meanwhile, in the expo hall, companies will be demonstrating new and exciting products, services, and technologies for the world of technical communication.
The conference is hosted by the Society for Technical Communicators, the world’s largest and oldest professional association dedicated to the advancement of the field of technical communication. Discounted registration rates are available for STC members, students and retirees.
UPDATE: Originally to be held in Bellevue, Washington, this conference has moved fully online. Registration still includes access to all education and keynote sessions, virtual receptions and social events, the Expo Hall, and a variety of engaging virtual networking opportunities. Nicely done!
Date: May 18-20, 2020
Location: Virtual event
Confab is for people who plan, design, build, or manage content – not just technical communicators, but also content strategists, UX designers, content marketers, writers, editors, content managers, and more. The conference aims to help these professionals make their content better for their users and organizations.
Organized by Brain Traffic, this leading content strategy conference draws attendees from more than 30 countries and every state in the US, including professionals from Fortune 500 brands, retailers, nonprofits, government institutions, and agencies of every size.
The program spans several areas related to content strategy, such as:
- Analytics and performance
- User experience design
- Workflows and stakeholders
- Content design for AI and bots
- Editorial assignments and calendars
- Hiring and staff management
Discounts are available for people working in nonprofits, government, and higher education institutions, and people who have recently lost their job or are marginalized or impoverished can apply for free registration. Since time and budget don’t come easy, they’ve also created this nifty guide to help you convince your boss to send you to the conference.
UPDATE: Originally to be held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, this event has turned into an online conference. It includes: a live broadcast connecting you with content strategists all over the world, Q&A sessions, small group networking opportunities, and an on-demand library of all conference content for a full year.
Date: June 8-11, 2020
Location: Virtual event
Omnichannel X is uniquely dedicated to helping organizations build strong personal relationships with their audience. It brings together managers and teams across the four key disciplines needed for omnichannel success: content, design, governance and systems.
Organized by Urbina Consulting and Kunverj, this conference features speakers and brands who will share their success stories, their failures, and techniques they’ve used to orchestrate and personalize content across multiple touchpoints. Topics will range from content strategy to service design, content marketing and UX.
Discounts are available are now available, and there are also discounts for students and groups of three or more.
UPDATE: Sorry, folks… no Amsterdam this year. This is now a online conference. Registration is being offered at 60% off the price of the physical event. It will include half-workshops, multiple live tracks, live networking sessions, and one year’s access to all session recordings, transcripts and presentation slides. If you’ve lost your job or contracts due to the Coronavirus pandemic, they are making the main conference free of charge to help you get back to work with upgraded skills and new inspiration.
Date: August 10-12, 2020 (new date)
Location: Virtual event
Unlike most of the other conferences on this list, ContentTECH Summit is geared towards professionals at the intersection of content, technology and strategy – including directors, VPs and executives in marketing, innovation, demand generation, customer experience and ecommerce.
Attendees will learn from experts in content strategy and marketing strategy, who will show how the use of new technologies and better processes can help you create, manage, deliver and scale your enterprise content and provide customers with better digital experiences.
UPDATE: The summit is organized by Informa and was originally to be held in San Diego this April, but has been changed to a 100% virtual event. This handy FAQ includes information about cost, group discounts and more.
Date: September 21-23, 2020
Location: virtual event
This all-in-one conference has been created as a replacement for DITA North America, Journeys and DITA Europe. CIDM is presenting it as an immersive experience designed to share ideas and information that enable content developers to define and execute a comprehensive content strategy.
The original plan was for DITA North America to be held in conjunction with CIDM’s new Journeys conference in Phoenix, and for DITA Europe to be held in Budapest. However, due to COVID-inspired circumstances, they are being combined into a single online “extravaganza of industry best practices and networking”. DITA North America and DITA Europe are traditionally tailored to information developers at all stages of DITA implementation, whereas Journeys was intended to bring together content developers from all areas of business – from marketing to support to training to documentation.
The website for this new event will be up soon, but in the meantime, here’s what it will have to offer:
- 38 hours of live programming across 3 days and 8 time zones
- 12 months’ access to the entire library of over 100 recorded presentations, including the majority of the announced sessions for DITA North America and Journeys 2020
- Live interactions with speakers
- Slack-channel networking, continuing for 12 months after the event
- Virtual Exhibit Hall, with opportunities to win some great prizes
- Social activities such as coffee breaks, happy hours, a trivia contest, and a virtual escape room
CIDM (Center for Information Development Management) is a member organization that brings together managers in the field of information development to share information about current trends and best practices.
Discounts are available for CIDM members and organizations bringing more than five people, and you can use the coupon code Zoomin-2020 to get $100 off any full-priced registration.
Date: October 25-28, 2020
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana (new location)
With a name inspired by its Hawaiian roots, the LavaCon content strategy conference helps senior content professionals stay ahead of authoring and publishing technologies. This year’s conference will be hosted in New Orleans, with a focus on unifying content from silos across the enterprise, leveraging new immersive technologies, and creating stellar content experiences.
LavaCon features dozens of industry professionals who share best practices, case studies and unique strategies, and is known as a great opportunity to network with industry peers. There is also an exhibit hall and several fun activities to attend.
Tuition discounts are available, and the first 100 registrants will enjoy Buy One, Get One Free.
UPDATE: This conference is going on as planned. If you register and decide later on not to attend because of COVID-19, they will refund your tuition, apply it to next year’s conference, or convert it into a site license so your whole department can attend virtually. LavaCon has been producing a successful virtual experience for years, so if necessary, the whole conference can be produced virtually.
Date: November 3-5, 2020
Location: Stuttgart, Germany and online
tcworld conference is the largest international event in the field of technical communication, catering to both beginners and experienced professionals in the field. It will play host to about 4,500 experts in the field, and feature lectures, exhibitors, workshops, tutorials and meetups covering topics such as:
- Content strategy
- Content design, organization and standardization
- Information products
- Developing and applying terminology
- Optimizing production processes
- Visual design
- Translation and localization
- Quality assurance
- Information logistics
This conference is held in conjunction with the tekom fair, which features more than 160 international exhibitors serving the creation, management and quality of structured information products.
UPDATE: This conference is going on as planned. Tickets can be canceled free of charge up to four weeks prior to the conference, and if canceled at a later date, you can get a partial refund or convert it into a live-stream ticket.
CIDM Best Practices
Date: November 16-18, 2020 (new date)
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Best Practices is the premier annual conference for managers and senior leaders in information development from across the US and internationally. Another long-standing event organized by CIDM, it’s a great opportunity to build relationships with other professionals and collaborate on industry best practices.
This year’s theme hasn’t been announced yet, but if you’re interested in registering for the conference, they’re offering a special hotel rate until October 26 or until the block of rooms is sold out. There are discounts for students, CIDM members and organizations bringing 4 or more associates – or you can use the coupon code Zoomin-2020 to get $100 off any full-priced registration.
UPDATE: Thankfully, the organizers have been able to preserve this as a physical event by rescheduling it from late September to late October.
Digital Experience Conference
Location: Washington, DC
The Digital Experience Conference (formerly known as Gilbane’s Digital Experience Conference) brings together over 750 professionals responsible for top-level digital and customer experiences.
Although technical communication isn’t the focus of this conference, you can meet with and learn from digital experience experts in the fields of technology, marketing and business. It’s hosted by EContent, a leading authority on digital publishing, media and marketing.
Over 25 leading practitioners and executives will speak about how you can provide engaging digital experiences through the creation and management of high-quality content, measurement and analysis of customer interactions, building of consistent user interfaces across channels, and integration with enterprise systems.
In addition, more than 30 top technologies and solutions will be on display in the Customer Solutions Expo. The conference is co-located with three additional conferences – Smart Customer Service, CRM Evolution and SpeechTEK – which “All Access” passholders can attend to learn even more about the tools and technologies available to create great customer experiences.
UPDATE: This conference has been postponed, and the organizers are currently evaluating all available options to hold it later this year. There should be some news in a few weeks, and until then, you can check out the FAQ.
Location: Montreal, Quebec
CCMS Link is an opportunity to get up-close and personal with the people behind the popular IXIASOFT CCMS (component content management system). Attendees can network with the IXIASOFT community as they learn from case studies, workshops and presentations by experts
UPDATE: Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, this conference has been postponed to a later date. In the meantime, you can take a peek at last year’s agenda to see what it’s all about.
AIIP Annual Conference
Location: Denver, Colorado
The AIIP 2020 Annual Conference is a top choice for information professionals who are running their own business. It’s a great opportunity to meet other business owners in the field, learn from dynamic speakers, and collaborate with like-minded peers who may become professional collaborators
The program focuses on four main themes: business development, professional development, tools of the trade, and personal enrichment. It includes a range of interesting sessions and workshops, with topics ranging from business-planning techniques to opportunities in emerging industries to working in a gig economy.
It’s organized by the Association of Independent Information Professionals, an international network of independent business owners running info-centric business. They provide a variety of services that equip AIIP members for ongoing business success.
UPDATE: Now that this event has regrettably been canceled, you can find information about about refunds and other logistics here.
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Last updated: May 19, 2020