RE: Most Impt. Skill to Learn in Tech Comm Program?

Subject: RE: Most Impt. Skill to Learn in Tech Comm Program?
From: "John David Hickey" <jdhickey -at- sympatico -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2001 11:45:02 -0700


> What's the most important skill an undergrad tech comm student
> should learn before graduating?

Just one? We only get to pick one?

The most obvious skill would be writing, but I'm assuming that if you don't
have writing skills before you start your undergrad education, you wouldn't
be able to qualify for the program. So let's assume that you've got decent
writing skills.

I would say that having a honed analytical mind would be important for any
techwriter. You've got to be able to analyse the product you're writing
about, distill it to its most basic form, and extract the topics you need to
write about. The same hold true for the specs you read, the previous guides
that exist, and the gobblegook double-speak you'll be subjected to as you
interview the SMEs.

Other skills would include being able to structure topics in a way that
flows naturally, smoothly, and cleanly. Topics that just seem to jump from
one to another in an unrelated way can only confuse the reader.

And lastly, I would say that a techwriter needs to be a charming politician
(to extract info from difficult people), have a thick skin (to be able to
rise above the pettiness of some people), and be persistant and stubborn!
You'll need the last two qualities in a reasonable amount to allow you to
pursue the truth (a la Mulder, 'cause it really is out there).

Oh wait... I had to pick one, right? Harumph... so much for my analytical
mind. <G>
Be seeing you,

John David Hickey
Grand Poohbah of Documentation

Montreal Techwriter Forum Moderator
Personal page:

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Most Impt. Skill to Learn in Tech Comm Program?: From: Hart, Geoff

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