The Convention: A Personal View

Article excerpt

HAVING ARRIVED AT THE ABC European Convention in Helsinki, 20-22 May 1999, I was overwhelmed by the whole arrangement and the many interesting people and papers appearing in the programme. There were five plenary talks and six parallel tracks, all hosted by Tuija Nikko and Hilkka Yli-Jokipii within an excellent arrangement at the Helsinki School of Economics. This did not make my task as a commentator at the closing session an easy one. How should I set about it? It was impossible to do justice to everybody and everything. Discussing this problem with some of the conference participants, it was suggested to me that I should look at the arrangement as the table we were sitting around, happily chatting over a drink. After second thoughts I bought the idea.

We were actually sitting in a bar at a round table with three iron legs planted solidly on the ground. This seemed a fair image of the European Region of the Association for Business Communication, now firmly established. People were sitting round the table in a circle belonging together as a family, and a round table has always room for one more--a good image, I found, for our desire to see the Association growing. So a round table, and around it a steadily growing body of friends. But what was on the table? Were there drinks? Was there food? And how was it? With no less than five plenaries and six different tracks to choose from, it was impossible to do justice to all our excellent presenters. So I decided to pick only a few to represent the diversity of a very inspiring and fruitful convention. I decided to leave out the plenaries as they had already been commented on.

Now quantity alone does not make it; we go for quality, for delicious food. And the first talk I went to was indeed very interesting and very well presented. It was a talk by Jaap de Jong on "Stylistic Techniques in the Exordium of Modem Speeches," which gave an overview of rhetorical strategies used in forty speeches by Dutch professionals. These speeches were compared to an ideal model, which they did not match, so a pedagogical task still remained.

My second experience was in the track on International and Intercultural Aspects of Business Communication. This area can often seem a bit vague, though interesting to explore, but Carson Varner from Illinois State University quickly made very clear the number of problems we are confronted with when dealing with copyright protection. An interesting observation was that it is forbidden to copy articles at length to small groups of people, whereas it is allowed to project the same information to hundreds of people on a screen.

The next paper to be commented on is Paul Gillaert's paper on "Corporate Image Brochures in Flanders--Analysis of Genre." I point to this paper as a prototypical example of a successful conference presentation. …