Written by Taylor Covington

With summer at an end, our thoughts begin to turn toward colder days, festive parties, and time spent with family. It’s also an excellent opportunity to reflect upon all that we’ve accomplished this year, and what we’d like to consider for the future. What do you want to hone within your toolbox? What goals do you want to accomplish? And often, the question is what do we want next year to look like?

Visuals shape our daily lives, our memories, our goals, and our communication. Get Smart 2017 will teach you how to create content that tells your story and fulfills your audience’s visual needs.

Here’s five things to be on the look-out for on Oct. 27…

1. The new role of language

As communicators, we are trained to get our message across in the most succinct and effective way possible. But what if you can’t say anything at all? It’s the worst game of charades ever! And it’s certainly no way to keep and maintain an audience. Yvonne Tocquigny of Yvonne Tocquigny Branding Group discusses the value of both verbal and visual cues in a world where text alone is no longer effective as it once was. Keep your pens at the ready as Yvonne Tocquigny walks you through the role of language in an environment where we don’t really need words.

2. The best methods to get your message out with the visual tools at your disposal

It seems that every day, a new app promises to engage your audience in ways that sends all other forms of messaging back into the Dark Ages. As larger brands begin to realize the use and necessity of video branding, features like Facebook Live will become more prevalent. Kelly Shores, co-founder and CEO of Sparksight, discusses the best tips, tools, and to-dos to help us get our (or our client’s) marketing message out, whether it be with video, live stream, animation, or even . . . the dreaded (but misunderstood) drone.

3. The best use of UX to grab and keep your audience’s attention

Even the best content can be lost in the flurry of emails, texts and tweets (now, with an extra 140 characters!). But hey, you know that. But did you know that a strong UX might be even more of a deal-breaker between losing or gaining a customer? And did you know that UX stands for ‘user experience’? If you didn’t, fear not! Brenda Miele, the UX and Creative Director of Charity Dynamics, does and she’ll show you how to blend UX methodologies to better develop your content, images and video for the web. As marketers we’d like to throw web-design into another bucket for someone else’s skill set, but as content, branding, and the internet becomes more intertwined, even a basic understanding is highly valuable.

4. The ins-and-outs of Facebook Live

Remember when Facebook Live came up earlier in this post? Well, it’s not going away here, or as part of a communicators tool set. Facebook is doing everything in its power to make Facebook Live the premier livestream resource for personal and professional use — ahead of YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Whatsapp. Kim Barnes, as the owner of Barnes Team Media, will provide a 360-look at Facebook Live and discuss why it’s something we all need to pay attention to. As Kim so brilliantly puts it, “If you’ve been hoping Facebook Live is just another app in a long line of apps that will go away, think again.”

5. The future for digital and print communicators is a visual revolution

The world of streaming and viral videos might have lessened the effect of spoken words, but there’s nothing we love more than a good panel. Freelance Austin has presented us with four creative women to discuss how the expanding role of images has affected what we as digital and print communicators do and how they communicate with their audience. Stephanie Carls (founder of My Savvy Life), Jane Ko (the blogger behind A Taste of Koko), and Sonja Sommerfeld (current photo editor of Texas Parks & Wildlife) with moderator Leah Fisher Nyfeler as Programs Chair for Freelance Austin will address all past, current and future fears of what exactly this new visual world might mean for traditional communicators.

Of course, there’s a lot more to learn from this group of truly talented women. What we talked about here is just the tip of the iceberg. As keynote speaker, Yvonne Tocquigny summarized: “The strongest brands come from the expression of an idea, and you don’t get ideas with just pictures.”