IT Expo Wrap-Up

(Apologies for not blogging last week — travelling back from IT Expo and handling the backlog of work which seems to accumulate whenever I’m away from the studio necessitated a brief break — I’m back this week with a re-cap of the always amazing IT Expo!)

Miami's Sunshine and Art-Deco Pastels by day get replaced by heart-stopping neon...

Every year, people flock to Miami — for those situated in cold climes like myself, it’s an opportunity to finally get warm and enjoy sublime cuban cuisine — but for those who work in the area of Internet Telephony, IT Expo in Miami  is a set item on their yearly business  travel agenda — IT Expo is the event with an educational program that teaches resellers, enterprises, SMBs, and Government Agencies how to select IP-based voice, video, fax, and unified communications to purchase or resell. Even this year’s harsh winter temperatures and tricky airline travel didn’t put too much of a glitch on this year’s conference — although I lost count of how many people told me they were on literally the last plane out of their local airport!

I, of course, attend IT Expo to meet with (and sometimes introduce myself to) contacts I’ve already worked for — and also to mine the rich opportunity of companies who may be in need of a professional voice talent to voice their platforms and who might have been at a loss as how to outsource that. Without fail, every year I attend (and this is my fourth IT Expo) I make significant contacts.

There were a couple of aspects to IT Expo this year which made this year an extra special year to attend:

My Talk at Digium Asterisk World

Gah! I'm actually on the Big Poster of Speakers!

I was invited by Bryan Johns, Asterisk Community Director at Digium, to speak at their pavilion, Digium Asterisk World — an opportunity which I jumped at, as it becomes clearer and clearer to me all the time that there is very little content out there about the mechanics of how to write effective IVR prompts — a topic which I’ve evangelized on repeatedly in this blog, and one which I looked forward to making the topic of my presentation: “IVR Mistakes and How To Avoid Them”.

I came to the conclusion that the biggest fear of the public speaker *isn’t* crowds —  it’s the *lack* of crowds. As speakers transitioned and left the podium for the new speaker to get ready for their talk, crowds had a way of dissipating between speakers. The fleeting thought of speaking to empty chairs crossed my mind as the Digium staff set up my laptop and outfitted me with a mic — but as soon as the talk got underway, seats starting to fill again. I touched on the common pitfalls of IVR scripts which personally drive me crazy: too lengthy opening greetings, too many mailbox options given, the urgent and critical information being left inexplicably til the *bottom* of the phone tree — all really basic common sense aspects which make sense when they’re pointed out — but ones which all too many people seem to be eager to replicate again and again. Explaining ultimately that I’m not a technical writer or even an expert on IVR — but my day-to-day voicing of prompts gives me a good idea of the common traits exhibited by effective IVR writers — and those less effective systems which needlessly take up customer’s time and contribute to frustration also exhibit some common traits as well. Gone during  this presentation was my nervousness which I used encounter regularly when speaking — I credit my new-found career coach for a much-needed tune-up (more about her in upcoming blogs), but also, there’s some advantage to talking about a topic which you’re passionate about — and a certain level of calm which comes along with that.

The Women In VoIP Breakfast

Whenever I told men at IT Expo that I had attended the first annual Women in VoIP Breakfast — knowing what they know about the ratio of women to men attending technology conventions –they presume it must have been myself and one other woman sharing an Egg McMuffin. There were actually close to a dozen of us (including someone  joining us via Skype)  — the breakfast was organized by Suzanne Bowen of DID Xchange, possibly one of the most personable and well-connected women in telephony today. I was honored to be a part of this group of motivated women consultants, marketing gurus, PR agents, directors of sales — and with myself, as the only professional voice talent attending, we made a very interesting group coming from far and wide (one of the attendees from Germany is even starting her own Women in VoIP gatherings in Frankfurt!) Truly an amazing occasion to connect with great women who — I’m happy to say — are more and more visible in the industry with every passing year.

With fascinating keynotes (I’m sorry — I’m biased — but Digium’s Danny Windham shows everyone how public speaking is done to perfection), better and more diverse exhibitors than ever — and the opportunity to freak out Conference Chair Rich Tehrani with my “telephone voice” — IT expo was and always will be one of the few never-miss Telephony conferences of the year.

Join me here next week, where I will delve into the mystifying, intriguing, and often comical world of Speech Recognition! (“I think you said…..SCREECH RETRIBUTION…!”)

You’re great for reading. Feel free to leave a comment!

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8 Comments »

  1. […] Continue reading here: IT Expo Wrap-Up « Voicegal's Blog […]

  2. Thomas Said:

    You write: (one of the attendees from Germany is even starting her own Women in VoIP gatherings in Frankfurt!)
    Out of couriosity: Who’s that woman? Maybe i know her.

    • voicegal Said:

      Thomas — her name is Lydia Schroeder-Strub anfd she works for a company called Ancotel in Frankfurt. Fabulous lady!l

  3. You mixed humor, knowledge, collaborative skill, and experience so well here as you always do, Allison. I think second to an empty audience while speaking is … when everyone sits in the back, and you can’t leave the front. I always wish at least a $1 bill would suddenly appear under each seat in the front, and I could say, “You’ll be richer if you sit in the front seats.”

    • voicegal Said:

      Thanks, Suzanne! Did any of the photos turn out from the breakfast? It’s not too late for me add one into the article…

  4. Allison,
    A great summary – thank you so much! I thoroughly enjoyed meeting you at the Women in VoIP breakfast and I too am honored to be part of a growing group of professionals. I look forward to staying in touch – thank you for being such a terrific role model for women!

    Best,
    Ilissa Miller
    Managing Partner
    Jaymie Scotto & Associates

    • voicegal Said:

      Role model! Gosh…I loved meeting everyone and was delighted how well everyone “clicked”! We need to make a yearly thing!

  5. […] here blog post, Allison explains how she got to ITEXPO, what it was like to speak there at the demo theater and she gives her review […]


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