The Final Day of Confab 2021 – Creating Change Through Content

May 7th, 2021 by Robyn Hannah
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Day 1 and 2 of Confab 2021 had been action packed with keynote speeches from the likes of John Paz, Vidhika Bansal and more. Having already learned so much about content strategy, creating inclusive and diverse spaces, the environment and more we were looking forward to the final day of the conference.

Fostering relationships between the writer, developer and user

Eileen Web kicked off day 3’s keynote speeches with her presentation: ‘What if…relationships?’ No matter how much planning goes into a new project via user personas, style guides, content templates and the likes, there is bound to be miscommunication at one step along the way.

Eileen discussed how to bridge the gap between the writer, developer, user and other team members to see projects from each other’s point of view and develop working relationships built on genuine care and respect.

Eileen made the compelling case that projects will always be better when we have good relationships with our colleagues, partners and clients. Not only will they be more enjoyable, but they will ultimately be more productive because we will have a better understand of each others motivations, needs and values.

Seeing as building lasting relationships with our clients is one of our key values here at Serps, we would have to agree with her.

Nurturing Creativity: How to come up with new ideas

Anthony Brandt drew on his co-authored book, The Runaway Species: How Humans Remake the World to explore the biological and social underpinnings of creativity and how we can use that to develop a framework for new content ideas.

If you’ve felt uninspired this past year, you wouldn’t be the only one, and in fact it makes a lot of sense as to why. Anthony explained how creativity works in our brains.

Biologically speaking, we get our creativity from our brain’s ability to predict scenarios that haven’t happened yet. Putting these imaginary scenarios into practice is creativity in action.

However, we also need relationships because humans are social creatures. In many ways our creativity stems from our lived experiences, who we know; where we’re from and how we were raised. Having said that, we also need new experiences to inspire us. Bringing the two together helps to foster new ideas and thus inspire creativity.

Therefore, at a basic level every human being has the ability to be creative. Putting it into practice is what will make our creations a success.

In an encouraging summation, Anthony gave us some key takeaways to use when trying to develop new content:

  • Create what you love
  • Don’t be afraid to have to try different ideas (and save all your drafts!)
  • Give yourself time
  • Choose who you want to share your work with, not everything needs to be shared with the world

Creating change with content strategies

Today’s panel was hosted by Malaika Carpenter and friends; Martina Smith, Clifton Simmons and Sarah Fathallah. Discussing how content strategy and UX design can work to drive social change – whether it be changing the ways we work or allowing the users we centre in our work to change us.

Looking at Martina’s contribution in developing anti racist language guidelines, Clifton’s involvement in an inclusive internship programme and Sarah’s work in independent participatory research and design, the panel discussed content strategy for change.

Mutually agreeing that our relationships with our audiences should be at the centre of strategy and design, the panel demonstrated how we can create an impact that pushes for social changes for not only those audiences, but also our own teams by reflecting and changing our own ethics and practices.

Key tasks for content strategists

Kristina Halvorson returned for a final time to interview Gerry McGovern, Founder and CEO of Customer Carewords, and discuss his ‘top tasks’ methodology for content strategists looking to priorities their content.

Gerry explained that ‘top tasks’ refers to crucial content topics. Using his work with the WHO last year as an example, Gerry demonstrated how he used the ‘top task’ methodology to identify what questions people had about the vaccine and determine what content would answer those questions.

On the flip side, he explained what he refers to as ‘tiny tasks’: content that is designed purely to push current agendas or play to trends. This type of content ultimately has a shelf life which is not only bad for business strategy in the long run, but it really bad for the environment as well.

In a passionate speech, Gerry explained the vast amount of digital data waste that this creates. Giving us some serious food for thought on how to confront the environmental impact of producing never-ending masses of content, and how we can help combat this by developing more medium to long term content strategies.

Content that pushes for change

Erika Hall closed up Confab with an inspiring closing keynote speech on how to take the lessons we had learned over the 3 day event back to work and challenge the business culture for change. Because it’s all well and good having learned all this new information, but what use is it if we do not have the confidence to bring these professional and social changes back to our organisations?

Erika argued that it is fear that holds us all back from change. Fear to challenge ideas, fear to present our own ideas and fear to work with each other to overcome them. Ultimately, this holds us back from creating good content design for the user, as we do not challenge the status quo.

If you’re truly in a collaborative environment, asking questions and challenging each other’s ideas will feel supportive, not undermining.

Erika Hall

Erika argued that we need to look inward at these fears and confront the issues by researching, making time for reflection, listening and collaborating to create that change.

Leaving us with her top tips for influence:

  • Say what you want and need
  • Identify what you don’t know
  • Ask questions and listen
  • Clarify goals and progress
  • Reject dogma

That’s a wrap on Confab 2021!

This year was an amazing conference full of inspiring content strategists who are pushing for change both within the industry and within larger society.

Whilst we’re sure many may have been disappointed that Covid forced this year’s Confab to be held online for the second year in a row, we’re pretty pleased because it allowed us to enjoy the event from all the way over in Scotland.

Plus, the team done an amazing job keeping the conference interactive with Slack chats, pet shows, watch parties and more! To find out about the other 2 days at the conference, make sure you check out our round ups of Day 1 and Day 2 at Confab 2021.

It’s safe to say we’re leaving feeling pretty inspired and looking forward to seeing what the next year will bring for the world of content strategy!

Photo Credit: Josh Hoehne


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