Matisse stands next to a projection screen with the title slide for her presentation, Putting the A in IDEA.

Achievement Unlocked: IABC World Conference

Since I realized that public relations and communications were my career path, I created a bucket list of professional goals I wanted to achieve:

Matisse’s hand holds her IABC World Conference badge with her name, pronouns, company and location. Attached to the badge are four colourful ribbons. From top to bottom, they read: Speaker, IABC member, My ribbon is better than yours, and My pronouns are She/Her.
Check out all the ribbons. Not bad for my first in-person IABC World Conference. I can’t wait to see how next year’s ribbon collection looks like.
  • Graduate as the Highest Ranking Graduate from my program – I achieved this honour at my convocation in October 2015.
  • Secure a placement at an agency – I made this happen in 2015 when I secured my placement at Energi PR and was hired full-time while still a student.
  • Win an award for my work in PR/communications – This happened in 2018 when I was named the Public Relations Professional of the Year: Non-Profit/Association by PR in Canada. It was the first of many.
  • Become more involved with IABC/Toronto – With the pandemic, I found myself trying to get more involved with the professional communications community. IABC/Toronto gave me an opportunity to give back and share my knowledge about what I was passionate about – accessible communications.
  • Get a degree in communications – A work in progress, but it’s happening.
  • Earn my master’s in communications – This will come in time.
  • Speak at the CPRS National Conference – While I wish I was able to be there in person, I was fortunate enough to present a session virtually this June at the 2022 conference.
  • Speak, in person, at the IABC World Conference – This. This is the big one! I got to present and advocate for accessible communications IN PERSON in New York City at the 2022 IABC World Conference.
  • Win an IABC Gold Quill award – This will come in time too.
  • Win a Cannes PR Lions – This is a dream goal, but so far, my dreams have come true!

Live from New York, it’s me!

Let me set the stage for you. It’s the last day of an incredibly inspiring conference. I may have found myself constantly stirring the pot by asking questions about how other professional communicators incorporate accessibility into their practices. Unfortunately, it was a rarity that anyone actually did. But, I digress.

Matisse stands next to a projection screen with the title slide for her presentation, Putting the A in IDEA.
As excited as I look in this photo, I was even more excited in reality!

So, back to the last day of the conference. I won’t lie, I feared no one would come to my session. Maybe it’s the whole imposter syndrome thing, but I was definitely terrified of speaking in an empty room.

Well, the room filled up! And that meant I had to actually present my session, hahaha. I took a deep breath and dove into my content. Something I was very proud of was that I tried to make my presentation as inclusive and accessible as possible, which included enabling live captions in PowerPoint.

Now, I only had 30 minutes to get through my presentation and I may have gone over that time slightly. But there was a moment at the end of my session when an attendee shared that she was hard of hearing and her hearing aid batteries died the day before. She was thankful that I had turned on captions so she could still follow along with my presentation.

This. This is why I’m so passionate about accessibility in all things communications. This attendee doesn’t know it, or I hope I didn’t give it away, but I almost cried when she shared that.

My hope was that those who attended learned at least one thing they could start implementing right away.

“This was one of my favourite sessions”

Following my session, my anxiety started to drop and I was able to process what I had just done. I checked something off my professional bucket list, and I did a good job!

Others from IABC/Toronto came up to tell me that they had heard attendees of my session praising how great it was. I had a few even come up to me and say my session was one of their favourites of the entire conference. Not only that, my session and accessible communications were also featured in the Catalyst as one of the highlights of the conference!

It takes a lot for me to say these next words about myself, but…I’m proud of myself and what I accomplished! I made my dreams come true and I did a good job.

See you in Toronto next year, IABC!

So, with that, my first in-person IABC World Conference appearance is complete. At the end of the conference, it was announced that next year’s conference will be held in Toronto! I can’t wait to submit my proposal for a master class session and network more in my neighbourhood.

Thank you, IABC, for such an incredible week. Here’s to 2023!

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