RE: Technically Speaking

Subject: RE: Technically Speaking
From: "John Fleming" <johntwrl -at- hotmail -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 16 Aug 2002 04:56:27 +0000

From: jgarison -at- ide -dot- com
To: johntwrl -at- hotmail -dot- com, techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Subject: RE: Technically Speaking
Date: Thu, 15 Aug 2002 11:42:01 -0400


>>Now the questions.
>>Has anybody here made presentations to groups of technical
>>writers on this
>>or related subjects? If yes, what topics did they tend to find most
>>interesting? What areas do they find least interesting? Are
>>there areas in
>>speech making they already have some background in just by
>>virtue of working
>>as technical writers?

MANY tech writers (and people in general) find the very thought of standing
up in front of a group of people heart-stoppingly terrifying. Most of the
information that I give to people on doing stand-up presentations is to know
your material, talk normally, don't read a script or slides. Being a writer
generally means you know how to organize your information (a biggie!). But
it also means people tend to script everything and then just read the script
(a bad idea).

Fear of public speaking is one of the reasons many people join Toastmasters.

Drawing on my own public speaking backround, to add to one of your points, another reason for not going with a script is it lets you tailor your talk to the audience at hand.

Each audience has characteristics that make that audience unique.

One of the ideas I am thinking of presenting in my discussion are some of the differences between the written environment and the spoken environment.

The spoken environment is much more here and now.

Unlike the written environment, the person listening to a talk can't grab a dictionary to look up a word, so there is more importance on using language the members of the audience understand.

Also, in the spoken environment, even if the audience isn't asking questions, the communication is much more two way. The audience's body language gives the speaker some feedback on how the audience is responding to the message.

Sticking to a script also means the message can't be adapted to respond to the signals the audience is sending back to the speaker.

>>If you do presentations as a technical writer, in general
>>terms, what kinds
>>of talks do you do most often? Briefings to supervisors and
>>Presentations to customers and clients? Presentations to
>>fellow staff?

All of the above, and then some. I present all sorts of stuff to company
executives, fellow workers, fellow tech writers. Who ever needs it and will
sit still through it all!

Thanks, John. That information is invaluable.

>>If you use visual aids in your talks, what kinds do you use
>>most often?
>>PowerPoint presentations? overheads? models?

Whatever is appropriate. PowerPoint slides primarily, with screen shots,
etc. as needed.

>>If you've seen other technical writers do presentations, are
>>there areas
>>that stand out in your mind as being particular weaknesses?

They don't violate more of the good speaking guidelines than the general
public do ... Things to remember:

Speak loudly enough
Don't trail off at the end of sentences
Speak slowly
Maintain eye contact
Animate your voice
Be enthusiastic
Have fun!

Thanks agian.

John Fleming
Technical Writer and SAS Programmer
Edmonton, Canada

Please respond to the group. My address is set to reject e-mail from senders not in my address book.

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