Re: Technically Speaking

Subject: Re: Technically Speaking
From: "Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher5 -at- cox -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 16 Aug 2002 11:17:06 -0700

Please excuse me if this is a duplicate post. I just
got a message from the listserv that it was rejected
because I used the same first line twice. <sigh>
Then another rejection because I forgot to delete
the footer. <sigh> <aside>So much rejection! Where's the
number for my therapist?????</aside>


Continuing the conversation *again*...
I said...

While tech writers should have the basic "Speech 101"
knowledge -- the communication process including noise,
how to structure a persuasive argument, etc., most of
them (I've found) either don't have the background or
have forgotten all about it.

then John Fleming wrote:

We do have the knowledge and ability to present material in a way that has a structure and a flow to it.
Me again:
Yabbut, and the point of all this too..., tech writing and
public speaking are two different animals. The classic
structure of the two different communication techniques
are different.

Open up your speech text book. You see very specific
structures for persuasive presentations, informative
presentations, etc. Just as in a tech writing text book
you see structures for reports, technical manuals,
proposals, etc. We tend to forget that what works for
one does not necessarily work for the other.

And a writer who is unfamiliar with the classic patterns
of informative speaking often writes a mini technical
manual to present on stage -- then forgets that the TOC
should be an integral part of the document. So the classic
speaking pattern of "tell 'em what you're gonna tell 'em,
tell 'em, then tell 'em what you told 'em" goes out the
window. How many times have you walked into a conference
session and 20 minutes in you finally figure out that what
is being said isn't at all what you expected and it's
something that you're not interested in hearing. A good
speech introduction should clear that up in the first
five minutes.

And I'm not saying that the two communication techniques
don't have a lot in common or that there are not a lot
of parallels, just that there are significant differences
that we frequently overlook. And I'm not sure whether it's
the arrogance of the TW species ("I *know* how to communicate.
I need learn nothing new.") or whether the problem is just
more typical of people who don't do a lot of public speaking
in general. But I go to a lot of conference sessions and I've
seen a lot of tech writers fumble around as if they'd never
taken a speech class in their lives.

...just my observations.
-Sue Gallagher

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