Book cover for The Canadian Press Caps & Spelling bookAmid the shiny new digital tools discussed at a recent session with IABC/Toronto’s Professional Independent Communicators (PIC) was an old standby: The Canadian Press Caps and Spelling book. I use it often for its Plain Words section, and I wasn’t the only word nerd with a copy in easy grabbing distance.

But the Tools of the Trade event delivered on its promise to crowdsource a range of helpful tools, with books just a small part. We shared tips for creative support; AI tools; professional services; and business operations. In the discussions in each area, we had a chance to ask for suggestions or explain why we use a particular app or service.

Here is a small sample of the recommendations

We jumped right into a (new-to-me) Miro virtual whiteboard, which teams can use to plan, diagram and map ideas. Participants shared Post-It-like notes naming favorite apps and cool tools. Miro itself made the list of collaboration tools, along with the more familiar Google Docs, Zoom and others.

We learned that among various transcription services, can be “a gamechanger.” PIC members use it to record and transcribe Zoom interviews and to have as backup when taking notes. If something in the transcript isn’t clear, you can hit “play” and it will pull up the recording. As with all AI, it seems, remember to go through and clean up the results.

With a number of writers in the group, we had plenty of suggestions for writing tools, including the well-known Grammarly, Hemingway Editor (one of my faves, as you know) and what else but ChatGPT.

With all those new accounts you’re going to have, how will you manage passwords? One PIC member uses a paid LastPass account to manage multiple clients, but says the free version is perfectly fine. She also recommends the free AODA Colour Contrast Checker app to check websites for compliance with content accessibility.

When it comes to learning, we look to IABC and PIC, of course. LinkedIn Learning also has a range of courses, and you get free access through your Toronto Public Library card or membership in the Canadian Freelance Guild.

We left the session buzzing, with PIC members commenting that it was time well spent. Always great to learn from other in the field!

This event recap first appeared in the PIC newsletter, The Buzz.