Fresh thinking: Insights from the IABC World Conference, San Francisco, 2015


The IABC World Conference is an annual feast for communicators. It offers a mix of exceptional and visionary keynote speakers through to small expert workshops. I was delighted to once again be invited to speak at the world conference, this year in San Francisco.

As always it was a fantastic chance to meet with leading communication experts from around the world, to pick up insights, socialize and make new friends.

With almost 2000 delegates from all over the world and many exceptional speakers the most difficult challenge was to decide what sessions to go too. Too many sessions, too little time. A good complaint.

Firstly we kicked off with Sally Hogshead’s opening session on the science of fascination. Her tests and presentation had everyone buzzing and was a conversation kicker for the welcome reception that evening. Her insights into how to capture people's attention and land that project were inspiring.

Storytelling was a recurring theme, and according to Subhamoy Das, stories are the scaffoldings of business communications, but also of life. “We all live our lives through stories. We make sense of our world and our place in it through stories!”

My personal best pick of the conference was Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP (and author of Winners Dream: A journey from corner store to corner office). An exceptional communicator he told his life story and gave some key tips for communicators:
If you want to be relevant don’t come in with questions. Don’t waste time. Come in with ideas and solutions.
Avoid long emails “All this corporate sneaky stuff has gotta go”.
Go direct, pick up the phone.
Be a catalyst for making vision and strategy come to life. Think about what matters most.

We also had a very insightful crisis communications session with some of the leading communicators who worked through the Boston Marathon Bombings. We heard from the communicator in the medical centre, who cared for the injured, the communications manager for the police department and the personal perspective of a communicator who was there as a participant at the event.

My own session was entitled 'Risk, resilience and psychology give us a new communication toolkit'. It focused on how we can use proven risk tools alongside cognitive and behavioral psychology to provide leaders and communicators with a new way of problem solving and effectively communicating.

It was an honour to speak at the event and to once again meet such cutting edge communicators.

Great company from IABC France Claudia Vaccarone and from IABC Slovenia Jasna Suhadolc 

Couldn't travel this far and not see the Golden Gate Bridge!  


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