Monthly Archive November 2015

ByMichael Ambjorn

November IABC Leadership Forum

The third IABC Leadership Forum was pulled together from across two continents: Carlos was in Philadelphia, Dianne in Charlotte, and I was in London – and Melissa helped with the Q&A from San Francisco.

Here’s the replay:

Be sure to tune in for the next one.

When & Where
Wednesday 16 December: 1pm PST / 4pm EST / 9pm London / 8am Sydney (Thur). Click here for time zone conversions in your part of the world. Full details here.

ByMichael Ambjorn

Who does what

This week’s Venn is an excerpt from the latest quarterly report for the International Association of Business Communicators.

It is snapshot of the work put in to advancing the comms profession done by 1000+ leaders across the world.

You can download the PDF here.

Learn more about IABC at – and be sure to follow @IABC.

If you want to do a deep-dive, you may also want to check out some of the other posts on this blog. Here are the key categories and what you can find within them:

#IABCieb Notes & Queries

Notes from every board meeting

IABC Leadership Forum

Q&A and more from the monthly Leadership Forum.

Annual General Meeting

Notes from the 2015 Annual General Meeting – including  a look ahead.

Field Notes

A range of reflections – some examples: What communicators can learn from start-ups: paper folding segmentationWhat connects these three leaders?An extreme reading / listening listMaking global communications work3 insights from the #sharingeconomy road from Frankfurt to Florence

Guest posts

Does exactly what is says on the tin. We always need more of these.

The Weekly Venn

It is all about the intersect…

Let’s #createconnection like never before.

Michael Ambjorn

P.S. Want to share this week’s Venn? Go on. You know you want to.

ByMichael Ambjorn

11 conference ideas from #SLUSH15

This week I’ve been at #SLUSH15 in Helsinki – a start-up focused event that has grown from a few hundred people to 15,000 in less than seven years.

So whoever tells you that people no longer go to conferences are wrong. People are just expecting a different format than they used to – and here are a few ideas I took away from this monster-one:

People come because of people

1: Because they can meet likeminded people. Not just the fancy keynotes and all that.

SLUSH gets it – they’ve put the whole shebang in one hangar-sized space: 15,000 people milling, talking, connecting – all at once.

2: They’ve also dispensed with the bright lights – making an airport-sized experience feel intimate. Oh and they have lasers. And smoke machines. But I digress.

A good conference is a marketplace for connection

Not just content.

3: SLUSH have a great space set aside for connecting – where people can meet, discuss and kick off new collaborations. Because innovation is all about cross-pollination of ideas.

4: Also, speakers such as Google’s Sarah Drinkwater (Head of their London Campus) offer to spend time with people 1:1 to share advice. Adds a nice peer-to-peer touch – making everybody behave in a more accessible manner.

5: Many come to events to find a new gig. SLUSH have grabbed this challenge by the horns: they have a whole area dedicated to recruiters. Example? Exhibitor TransferWise is looking for all of these: CopywriterDigital Content ProducerEuropean Community ManagerPaid Social Marketing ManagerVideo ProducerHead Of Government RelationsHead Of PR – APACHead Of PR – Europe, Head Of PR – UKInternal Communications Manager, PR Intern (Paid, Immediate Start)Press Officer (Europe)

Technology accelerates the experience

6: Yet the experience is still human. A set of apps help play a part: the main SLUSH one providing the agenda etc. + clever real-time help via the folk at Ninchat.

7: Then there’s the swipe-right-left networking-app GRIP – which promises to work long after the event is over. Let’s see.

8: For those using Twitter (and at #SLUSH15 that is a lot of people) it always helps when slides have hashtags and handles so information can easily be tagged on the fly.

A few Old School things still worth the while

9: The humble business card is definitively not dead. I get mine from Moo.

10: Nor are name tags with nice big, clear and legible lettering. Font size 30+ or bigger. Some of us wear glasses.

11: Decent coffee helps. A lot. Thanks

If this might be useful to somebody organising a conference near you, feel free to share it.

Meanwhile, I hope to see you in Sydney later this month, Los Angeles in February, Rotterdam in April and New Orleans in June 2016 – or somewhere in-between.

Let’s #createconnection like never before.

Michael Ambjorn


ByMichael Ambjorn

What communicators can learn from start-ups: paper folding segmentation

This week I’ve been at #SLUSH15 – an event that brings together 15,000 people interested in start-ups: entrepreneurs, investors, academics and of course the raw talent who power it all.

Here’s one of the things I took away – advice given to start-ups, but just as applicable to communicators operating at the strategic advisor level:

Paper folding segmentation

‘Impossible is nothing’ said Muhammad Ali – and whilst that is true, he did take a rather meticulous approach.

The same goes for start-ups (and communicators) who succeed: they don’t try their luck across all the weight classes.

They pick their fights carefully.

The first step? Segmentation.

Kim Väisänen

Kim Väisänen

Kim Väisänen brilliantly brought this to life with a visual shorthand: and no, I’m not talking about boxing gloves. Rather, something you’ll most likely have to hand: a plain sheet of paper.

From Wikipedia: A size chart illustrating the ISO A series and a comparison with American letter and legal formats

From Wikipedia: A size chart illustrating the ISO A series and a comparison with American letter and legal formats

Now just imagine that piece of paper is the whole world.

Tempting, yet hopefully obvious that you can’t address all of it.

Kim’s advice? Keep folding until you have enough specificity to make it meaningful – but also realise that you can’t fold infinitely.

The average piece of paper can only be folded 7-8 times.

If you want to geek out on more on start-up advice – including Rachleff’s Law of Start-up Success, then there’s a useful write-up here. For those just starting out, this simple ‘business plan basics’ Prezi which I’ve taken on the road in the past may also be useful.

Or, if you simply want to prove that you’re a world class communicator who knows how to target what you do… the time is now to enter the 2015 Gold Quills.


2015 Gold Quill - IMAGINE

Share your good practice: let’s #createconnection like never before.

Michael Ambjorn


ByMichael Ambjorn

November ’15 Board Meeting

The IABC International Executive Board – aka #IABCieb – recently held its sixth board meeting of this term and here’s a quick recap of what was on the table in addition to the usual reports from the Chair; Vice Chair Dianne Chase (with a specific focus on the work of the Council of Regions (#IABCcor)); Financials from Treasurer Ginger Homan ABC and last definitively but not least, the report from our Executive Director, Carlos Fulcher MBA CAE:

Portfolio Review & Organisational Alignment

Cindy Schmieg

Cindy Schmieg

Our on-going work to ensure a strong and sustainable future for the association – one where the sum is greater than its parts – continues.

At this board meeting Cindy Schmieg ABC reported on the work of the Awards Alignment Task Force which has been looking at how the recognition programmes at the different levels of IABC can better work in synch.

Meanwhile, do help promote this year’s Gold Quill

Katie Macaulay
Katie Macaulay
Melissa Dark

Melissa Dark

One of the cornerstones of the current three-year strategy is increased reputation in the profession and better brand positioning – and one of the routes to achieving this is by stepping up our own practice of communication. Katie Macaulay and our Director of Global Communications, Melissa Dark ABC, joined the board meeting for a generative discussion to further advance this work. They will bring back a practical strategy for review in December.

Last but not least on this front, the board reviewed the results from the annual board evaluation.

Member Month Results & Technology Update

Carlos Fulcher MBA CAE
Carlos Fulcher

The board discussed the latest membership figures and Carlos Fulcher MBA CAE reported on the latest work on the website.

Moving IABC’s technology infrastructure into the 21st century after ten years of underinvestment continues to be hard work, but progress is being made. I continue to be in awe of the effort being put in by our hard-working HQ staff – and our leaders in the field – to serve members around the world. Thankyou!

Also: the member marketing toolkit page has now been updated with new social media posts and images.

Claudia Vaccarone

Claudia Vaccarone

Linked to this Claudia Vaccarone shared an update from the Membership Task Force. One of the early recommendations to come out of that group is a call for additional investment in updating IABC’s technology infrastructure.

This groups is also doing an analysis of the wider competitive/collaborative arena that IABC is playing in. If you have a contribution to make here, do get in touch with Claudia.

A look ahead to the 2016 Leadership Institute

Leaders go to Leadership Institutes to build their leadership skills.

They happen around the world: Minneapolis, Johannesburg, Basel, Denver, Calgary and Baltimore earlier in the year – and I am excited about attending the APAC LI in Sydney in November.

Dianne Chase
Dianne Chase

Leaders also go to Leadership Institutes. To build their leadership skills.

Once a year we bring IABC’s top international leaders together. IABC Vice Chair Dianne Chase shared an update on the preparations for this with help from the Council of Regions and Micayla Felicion on staff.

Registration for the 2016 Leadership Institute is now open. We are looking forward to an energetic event at the Hotel Maya in Long Beach, CA from 4-6 February 2016. The program for the Leadership Institute will offer leadership training, professional development, and networking for IABC chapter leaders coming from around the world. Additional information about LI can be found here. We look forward to seeing you in Long Beach!

Don’t forget to submit your Chapter Management Award entries by 1 December 2015. The CMA winners will be presented at LI.

Progress towards the 2016 World Conference

Stacy Wilson

Stacy Wilson

Stacy Wilson ABC shared an update on the progress her Program Advisory Committee is making in preparation for the 2016 World Conference which will be help 5–8 June in
New Orleans.

The team is working on reviewing the many submissions for sessions – as well as selecting keynote speakers.

Registration is open – please help spread the word using #IABC16.

Forward Look

At the December meeting, in addition to the Comms Committee returning, we will review progress from Audit & Risk, Policy Review, Academy and the Global Communication Certification Council. That’s in addition to reviewing the 2016 budget for IABC which will go to the Finance Committee first.

Meanwhile, please do join the next IABC Leadership Forum online: details here.

Meanwhile, thanks for all you do.

Let’s #createconnection like never before.

Michael Ambjorn

ByMichael Ambjorn

Board Evaluation & Effectiveness

This week is #trusteesweek here in the UK where I am based. It is an opportunity to take stock of the opportunities available to leaders looking to impact the non-profit sector.

For the IABC International Executive Board – who also serve as Trustees of the IABC Foundation – it is also an opportunity to step back and reflect. Why? The annual board evaluation is coming up at today’s board meeting.

We’ve committed to doing this annually in line with good board practice for non-profits – and in fact, it is good practice for all types of boards. Whether public, commercial or charitable as messrs. Cameron & Archer outline here . Do also see the Venn they’ve kindly lent me for this purpose (used as the header for this post). A sober change from the usually more colourful Venns). It sets out the three elements of board effectiveness.

Kirsten Peterson

Kirsten Peterson

I’ll go into a bit more detail about the framework we have used (with expert assistance from our Governance Coordinator, Kirsten Peterson) once we have had the discussion. You’ll be able to find that filed under #IABCieb Notes & Queries in the next week or so.

Before that, I want to emphasise that whether you serve on a full-fledged board – or indeed as part of any group doing oversight- at the simplest level, it is about self-reflection. The group can’t perform if the individuals don’t.

The National Council of Nonprofits has this compiled this set of evergreen questions may also want to reflect on (I’ve picked out the most relevant):

  1. Do I understand and support the mission of the organization?
  2. Am I knowledgeable about the organization’s programs and services?
  3. Do I follow trends and important developments related to this organization?
  4. Do I read and understand the organization’s financial statements?
  5. Do I have a good working relationship with the chief executive?
  6. Do I recommend individuals for service to this board?
  7. Do I prepare for and participate in board meetings and committee meetings?
  8. Do I act as a good-will ambassador to the organization?
  9. Do I find serving on the board to be a satisfying and rewarding experience?

Should your answer be no to any of the above – then it is time to reach out to the person leading your group… because life is too short to not be aligned.

Let’s #createconnection like never before.

Michael Ambjorn