RE: know your ... who?

Subject: RE: know your ... who?
From: "McLauchlan, Kevin" <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>
To: "Lauren" <lauren -at- writeco -dot- net>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 20 Feb 2008 14:22:03 -0500

So, we're not really disagreeing. It's just a difference of emphasis or
of terminology.
Your analysis of "facts" known about the audience is my SWAG(*).
For the rest, I always assume a "neutral" voice in technical
communications for my employer. That is, I never adopt the tone of a
"For Dummies" book.
It's serious, but not grim.

(* Scientific Wild-Ass Guess)

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Lauren [mailto:lauren -at- writeco -dot- net]
> Sent: Wednesday, February 20, 2008 14:13
> To: McLauchlan, Kevin; techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> Subject: RE: know your ... who?
> When writing for a foreign audience, I find it best to keep a neutral
> voice
> for the documentation. I still need to know the general education of
> audience so that I can write at an appropriate level.
> In a mining FSR that I edited for an international audience, I knew
> the
> audience was very educated and didn't require extensive explanations,
> although I did need to adhere to industry standards that the audience
> expected. I never met my audience. For a user manual that I wrote
> the
> Hong Kong Police, I did need to appropriately explain how to use
> technology
> that was unfamiliar to the audience and I needed to use language that
> free of colloquialism and jargon. I never met that audience, either,
> I
> "knew" them.
> I frequently do not meet the audience of my documents, however, I am
> to
> paint a picture about that audience based on my assessment of the
> audience's
> language and technology skills, abilities, and preferences. Having
> written
> for many types of audiences, I feel comfortable in my ability to
> knowledge about my audience based on abstract facts that surround the
> audience. I don't need to meet them personally to know how they fit
> between
> documentation and technology. I don't make guesses or assumptions
> my
> audience, I analyze the nature of the audience according to available
> facts.
> This does become knowledge of my audience.
> SMEs provide information about how the technology is intended to be
> and
> how users should interact with the technology. There is usually a
> of some sort (Business Analyst, Sales Person, Customer Support
> Representative, whomever) who understands the user or at least has
> information about the user. My role is to bridge the gap between
> technology
> as the SME conveys it and the technology user as the liaison conveys
> person. By learning what the audience needs to know from the SMEs and
> what
> the audience does know and expects, from the liaisons, I can learn
> my
> audience and "know" them.
> Lauren
> > From: McLauchlan, Kevin
> > What I do
> > is not "knowing my customer". It's more of an educated "imagining my
> > customer". I think that's as close as many of us can
> > realistically get.
> > Oh the ignominy of it all.

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RE: know your ... who?: From: McLauchlan, Kevin

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