Category Archives: LavaCon

Portland Landmark Sign

Guide to Attending LavaCon 2014

Hi everyone–I wanted to drop a note before I head to Portland, Oregon to say that I’ll be at LavaCon 2014! If you have any questions, feel free to ask me! If you are missing LavaCon this year, you can register for the online track that you can attend from home or work.

If you need me to help troubleshoot technology issues (WiFi, laptops, tablets, smart phones) or general directions around Downtown Portland, find me on Twitter at @RogerRenteria or call/text me at 505-750-1057.

Look forward to seeing you soon! Below is my quick guide to attending LavaCon!

Portland Landmark Sign

Portland Landmark Sign

Before we begin next week, I’ve reworked my conference guides from past years for this one. The following guide will help you navigate LavaCon as well as get yourself up to speed with general conference tips.



  • Spend about 20 minutes planning which sessions you want to attend. Read the Conference Program provided to you in your conference bag. Also, use the Lanyrd Conference Website to help you decide!
  • Select primary and secondary sessions for each hour, some session material may be available for preview on SlideShare.
  • Determine within the first 5 minutes if a session excites you; if not, go to your secondary session (it’s not rude–you are attending a conference for professional development!)
  • Ask questions at the end of the session.
    • Be persistent! As a presenter, I love when people ask me questions. So, do it!
  • Complete post-session speaker evaluation(s).
  • Look for presentation slides after the sessions from presenters on SlideShare.


Socializing and Networking

Socializing and Networking

  • Spend about $30 for business cards from VistaPrint if you have none. Remember to pack them.
  • Hand out business cards to anyone you meet.
  • Write a note on the back of each person’s business card to remind you how you met them.

Break Times

Portland Food Carts

Portland Food Carts

  • Offer and/or accept invitations to dine with attendees. We don’t bite.
  • Visit the vendors and check out the bookstore.
  • Attend evening events with attendees.
    • Tweet Up
    • Karaoke
    • Culinary Tour
    • Food Cart and Microbrewery Pub Tour
  • Share your professional experiences.

After the Conference

  • Continue networking via Twitter, LinkedIn, and e-mail.
  • Plan for next year, and convince your company to pay for it!
  • Look for a for Call for Speakers via e-mail; maybe you can present next year.
  • Keep up with current trends—check TechWhirl for LavaCon coverage.

It’s your conference experience and make the most of it! Also, find me during the conference!

Reflections from the LavaCon Workshop

I had a great time at the LavaCon Workshop on Unified Content Strategy in New Orleans. Thank you, Jack Molisani, for putting together the best of the best speakers together for this workshop. I deeply enjoy LavaCon because the conference and workshops are just the right size with a mix amazing professionals in the fields of technical communication, management, and marketing. Also, going to New Orleans was quite fun!

New Orleans Market at Night

New Orleans Market at Night

Here’s my reflection on attending LavaCon.

Learn from others

What fascinates me the most is learning how other people work with others and to hear their experiences. At a conference, I may hear a few case studies, yet at a workshop, there is more to learn beyond case studies. For example, I really enjoyed the three exercises that built upon team work, management, and communication–each integral aspects of Content Strategy.

Actively participate

Actively Participating at LavaCon

Actively Participating at LavaCon

Some technical writers are shy. One of my best and trusted colleagues is shy. I know I fall into the realm of being shy and social and it depends on the situation and who I’m with. For the most part, I actively listen and learn from what others say. I noticed that even adding a comment and engaging with the speaker was definitely worth it. Since the workshop has a hands-on element, if you participate–you will get more out of it than you first realize.

Ask questions

There was never a shortage of questions. I wish I asked more questions during the sessions. Part of being extremely new to the field is that I haven’t encountered the A-Z list of scenarios at the workplace. In addition, I have experienced some interesting workplace dynamics which I’ve learned how to manage and recover from. At the next conference, I will make it a priority to ask more questions in the future.

Keep an open mind

The reason why we attend workshops is to learn. Because we come from a variety of different backgrounds, such as marketing, management, computer science, writing, editing, and communication, we have different interpretations for how we understand Content Strategy. Each interpretation of Content Strategy may differ from one another, but we can add them together to build a better definition. I definitely have expanded my definition of Content Strategy after the last two conferences.

Build your network

Connect online with LavaCon attendees

Connect online with LavaCon attendees

Lastly, I will hit the networking game on Twitter and LinkedIn and to connect with everyone I met. I love how we have common interests and the social channels are available to professionally network. After LavaCon, I’m always happy to expand my network and include wonderful professionals which I will later meet at other conferences throughout the year. The advantage of connecting professionally with colleagues is you will open up new career opportunities for the future.


Later this month, I will write another post about the LavaCon Workshop group activities and what I observed. In the meantime, see more about what happened at LavaCon, check out the #LavaCon Twitter Feed and Andrea Ames’ SlideShare Slides. Also, learn more about the LavaCon 2013 Conference  and I look forward to seeing you in Portland, OR in October.

LavaCon 2012 Recap

Having returned from LavaCon Conference on Content Strategies and Digital Media, I feel much more confident within the field of technical communication. I have a list of colleagues I need to connect with after the conference and reconnect with others I saw too!

It is always a pleasure to meet up with conference attendees and this was the second time attending LavaCon. I have met most of my colleagues from previous STC Summits and it’s awesome that I get to see them twice a year.

Keep Calm and Back Up

Keep Calm and Back Up Slide – Photo by David Caruso

At this conference, I presented during the lightning talk session along with Kit Brown-Hoekstra, Brenda Huettner, and David Caruso. We each presented on a variety of inspirational topics about our field. Usually during a lightning talk, we each speak for 10 minutes with 20 slides that auto-advance every 30 seconds. We had enough time in our session to add a “ninja talk,” which follows the same format, except the presenter does not have access to the slides in advance to prepare for their talk. David Caruso was the lucky presenter to speak about “The Art of the Lightning Talk,” which Rachel Houghton recorded the presentation.

In addition to the conference, I enjoyed Adobe Day as well as the pre-conference workshop session on change management. Many thanks go out to my colleagues who I met at LavaCon. I greatly appreciate the help and advice they provided while socializing with them between sessions.

I also want to thank Jack Molisani, the Executive Director of the LavaCon Conference for opening up new opportunities in the technical communication field. The experience at LavaCon is rather unique due to his awesome conference hotel location choice; amazing food options and entertainment; and fantastic selection of professionals he invites to present during this conference.

Among my adventures in Portland, here are some numbers

  • Stayed in Portland for 5 days
  • Ate 3 Voodoo Doughnuts (yum!)
  • Visited Powell’s City of Books, which contain over 1 million volumes
  • Spent $10 to enjoy the Internet access for about 5 hours on Southwest Airlines (you have no idea how awesome internet is on a plane).
  • Walked over 10 miles in one day

Be sure to read coverage of LavaCon on TechWhirl Online Magazine for Tech Writers, follow #LavaCon as well as @LavaCon, and attend LavaCon next year!