Note: The following wrap up of the 2022 IABC World Conference recently appeared in Catalyst, the official publication of IABC. We wanted to share the piece as it offers several helpful comms insights. 

By: IABC Staff, Featuring IABC Members

After an inspiring four days in New York City attending educational sessions and connecting with colleagues from all over the globe, IABC World Conference 2022 attendees have a plethora of words to fill in the blanks of “Communication can…”

With so many sessions and opportunities for relationship-building, communication professionals added a wealth of knowledge to their toolboxes and new connections to their LinkedIn feeds. Here’s a glimpse of key takeaways from conference participants:

We’ll Meet You in the Metaverse

The metaverse was a key topic of interest at #IABC22. How will it impact the future of the communication profession? How do you even define the metaverse?

Megan Thomas also found inspiration in these immersive technology-related sessions. “While the robots aren’t quite coming to get us yet, with the metaverse potentially creating a $13 trillion economy over next three years, we need to prepare for another change in technology,” Thomas says. 

“Business models will evolve as organizations seek to create ‘digital twins’ in the metaverse.”

Still, Thomas sees the use of augmented reality, virtual reality and immersive technologies as a prime opportunity for communication professionals. “In 10 years’ time we’ll still be asking, ‘How can communication be used to achieve an objective?’ And connecting humans will still be at the core of the communication profession,” Thomas says.

Mic-Drop Moments

Get hundreds of communication professionals in one convention center, and you’re sure to witness several mic-drop moments. Joe Bobbey shares his favorite with Catalyst.

“One mic-drop moment was when Zora Artis, chair of the IABC 2022 World Conference, rallied attendees to stop calling ourselves communicators: ‘We are communication professionals,’” Bobbey says. “Many speakers provided inspiration for us to demonstrate our value and our elevated role in advancing our organization’s value. Closing keynote speaker Lisa Osborne Ross brought it to a crescendo saying ‘This is our time.’ We have a seat at the table we didn’t have before. She urged us to keep solving problems, taking action and making change.”

Jill Vitiello found similar inspiration in opening keynote speaker Frank Shaw’s presentation. “[Shaw] made a point that stuck with me. He noted that communication professionals need to ‘speak out, connect and negotiate,’” Vitiello says. “These leadership skills are our focus for enriching the employee experience in our organizations.”

Accessibility Is Key

Accessibility is a recurring theme at the IABC World Conference. How are you ensuring your communications are accessible to all?

Donna Itzoe found Matisse Hamel-Nelis’s presentation to be immediately applicable. “One significant learning I can put into practice today is ensuring that all our linked documents and social graphics require the same accessibility diligence as our web content,” Itzoe says. “I’ve already shared this with our content, social and web teams.”  

Communication Can … Influence Culture

Communication professionals create culture, and there was no shortage of organizational culture discussion at the conference.  

“Organizational culture and who takes responsibility for it is such a key topic for our current, turbulent times,” Monique Zytnik says. “Shane Hatton’s session ‘Let’s Talk Culture’ was fast paced and filled with insights based on his research. My favorite discussion was with Shane and Megan Thomas on an early morning run in Central Park. I applied his insights in an article I wrote today.”

During culture-focused sessions, Catherine Fisette was reminded that culture and communication drive each other, “especially at times of unprecedented crisis,” which communicators are all too familiar with recently.

Vitiello shares that by making a personal commitment to practice allyship in the workplace, communicators can weave DEI practices into the fabric of their cultures. “One of the best ways to get started is to craft your own story about your journey as an ally,” she says.

How is ESG making its mark on organizations? In a standing room only session, Bobbey found inspiration in how the ESG era is impacting climate, health, safety and ethical standards.

Putting the ‘I’ in IABC

IABC prides itself on connecting communication professionals from all corners of the globe. And with the celebration of the first in-person conference since 2019, IABC members were full of energy.

“The international aspect of IABC was put into exciting and sharp relief with this in-person event,” Kari McLean says. “The variety of accents, the variety of locations that attendees were from … It was so exciting to go from the middle of Ohio where I live, to talking with Takeshi Tsukiji, president of the Japan chapter, at the Dine Around. I attended Maria Jesus Villagran Cabanne’s session ‘When Culture Shapes Communication: Uruguay and the Pandemic, a Story of Success.’ I was entertained and enlightened by ‘The Behaviour Report’ presentation by my Aussie colleagues, and those incredible one-on-one conversations with people I think of as the global rock stars of IABC.”

“I’d heard about how inspiring the IABC World Conference is but never fully realized the energy, inspiration and sheer number of communication experts who gather for the event,” Zytnik says.  

Vitiello says that the conference was a “keen reminder of the global scope of our wonderful network of business communication professionals.” Being part of this community, Vitiello explains, creates the opportunity to connect with thought leaders from all parts of the globe.  

McLean likely speaks for many communication professionals in attendance, saying, “Being able to connect and share ideas with people from all over was energizing and kind of like drinking from a firehose. I’m glad to be able to spend time over the next weeks and months letting what I learned and observed become a part of how I approach my work going forward.”