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The IABC Wow! Conference, New Orleans 2016

11 Jul 2016

The IABC World Conference is a high-octane gathering that mixes big picture ideas on business and societal transformation with insights for improving business communications practice. But the real kicker is the international connections and the buzz of being in a great city like New Orleans.

Here are some of my highlights of the IABC World Conference 2016

Impossible! Why not?

Helen Marriage, the artistic director of Artichoke, delivered an inspiring opening keynote that really illustrated how communication can be a powerful force for good. Marriage highlighted some of the events she has organised themed around innovation and reconciliation that demonstrated the power of humanity. There are so many reasons that making huge events happen in a big city may seem impossible (like closing down precincts) but Marriage’s default answer to the impossible was “why not?”

In a spirited segue following the inspirational keynote we were then introduced to a brass band who led us through the streets to our welcome reception in true New Orleans style.

Transforming Organisations

Transforming organisations was another key theme of the conference and Seth Mattison urged strategic advisers to challenge how people see the world in the battle between rigid, controlling hierarchies and open, transparent networks.

One of my highlights from last year’s conference was Aaron Dignan, who sees institutions struggling with a new way of working. And with the rise of automation software, Geoff Colvin’s outstanding talk focussed on the value of empathy and collaboration and developing our human skills. He made the good point that the main difference between skills and traits is that skills get better – through deliberate practice! If you’d like to test yours, go to

Mind your mind

Another highlight – evidenced by one I keep thinking about and applying to work – was the point made by Andy Gibson of Mind Apples who said that the performance of business depends on the minds of all staff. He talked about the mind’s three systems but said that without emotions we struggle to take action – and that a decision is when we STOP thinking and take action!

Tips on working smarter were so relevant, and he reminded us to take a break before making an important decision (and don’t appear in court after lunch when the judges are likely tired!).

There was so much to the conference with too many concurrent sessions to take it all in. But we will see reports through IABC, as well as our colleagues who also attended. Save the date (and your budget) for the next World Conference in Washington DC 11–14 June 2017.

Leanne Joyce






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