Re: Help w/TW skills

Subject: Re: Help w/TW skills
From: "John P. Brinegar" <johnbri -at- PRIMENET -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 30 Jan 1996 19:48:12 -0700


> In the fall semester I'll be teaching technical writing
> in a computer lab for the first time. The students will
> be mostly undergraduates wanting to become professional
> writers and editors. Their writing skills vary greatly,
> from some who are great writers to some who can't recognize
> a sentence fragment from a graphic. As professionals,
> what would you all say are the top skills I should push in
> this class?

I am concerned that many would-be and actual tech communicators are more
concerned with writing skills than actually meeting the primary objective
of our profession. That objective is to promote the on-the-job performance
of the users of our work.

This requires many more and more important skills than just clear writing
(not that clear writing isn't important). Among these other skills are:

--Understanding the users' world of work
--Providing the right assistance and information at the right time and place
--Communicating visually
--Thinking as the users think-having strong empathy for the users
--Choosing the right media (great masses of text on paper are seldom the
right medium)
--Developing in multiple media (text, graphics, animation, video, audio,
(smell-a-vision, feel-a-vision?)
--Delivering in multiple media
--Acquiring information and expertise from appropriate sources (these are
not always the development engineers)
--Interviewing users and sources of information and expertise
--Working in a cross-functional-team environment (marketers, tech support,
users, trainers, and other tech commuicators)

John P. Brinegar,
Consulting and development
-Performance support systems
-Technical communications

Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.A.
(602) 278-7398
johnbri -at- primenet -dot- com

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