In Blog, News

IABC Victoria Board Treasurer David Imber reflects on the importance of connection and participation to help us all become better communicators.

In a world full of words and pictures – who can make sense of it all?

We can! As communicators we’re looked on to cut through the noise, to find new and creative ways to tell stories, to find audiences and to get our message across. Whether we’re communicating within an organisation or to the world at large, we’re looked on by our employers and clients to add value, to gain results and to make their lives easier.

Yet while we’re doing stuff for others, what are we doing for ourselves? IABC members from across three regions (which is really most of the world!) met together in April to do three things we probably don’t do enough of: Connect, Create and Collaborate.

It was amazing to do that with colleagues from around the world as three IABC regions: Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East and Africa all got together and literally converged.

Using high quality conference software this wasn’t a massive Zoom meeting. Members instead logged into a virtual conference hall where you could go to plenary sessions, break out rooms, visit trade exhibitors or even hang out in the meeting space and wait for someone to say hi! It was a great opportunity to hear from global communications leaders, while also connecting with others. At a time when COVID meant international travel was off the table, even hearing and seeing people from other countries made the world feel a bit closer.

Scheduled to work in our time zone IABC Converge started from around 5pm till 8.30pm across two work nights (where it was the start of the day in London and Lagos, mid morning in Capetown, noon in Mumbai and mid afternoon in Singapore). It was easy to make time for and wasn’t all talk- there were some musical numbers from regions during the break and a mix of sessions (and of course you could take time out).

I loved hearing the first key note from Australian Dan Gregory where he invited us to ask impossible questions when looking at a problem.  He also spoke to the increasing importance of purpose in organisations and firms especially for consumers. While his examples were sometimes a little dated, i.e. Body Shop and Virgin Atlantic, he was spot on when he spoke to the power of values. Another key take-away was inviting us not to be all Simon Sinek and asking the “why”, but going personal and asking the “who”. People respond to people and personal stories-a lesson that we can’t ever underestimate the power of human connection.

Yet aside from his and all of the other key notes I found the small and intimate break out sessions really got me engaged and were safe spaces to listen and talk. I found myself one of three people in a session about gig employment run by a communications guru from Lagos, Nigeria. We discussed the pros and cons of freelance work from our different perspectives. Some of the people from that conversation (from India and South Africa), connected on LinkedIn, and we’ve since had chats to get to know each other and consider whether we could be of help to each other or even work together.

Connecting, Creating and Collaborating was the goal and I found I did all three. I took some time out to listen and learn and found the experience valuable with insights that have stayed with me and new connections I’m learning from and sharing with.

With IABC World Conference coming up, I urge you to consider taking some time out for you and registering.