Re: "It Ain't Literature, Y'know" (#740579)

Subject: Re: "It Ain't Literature, Y'know" (#740579)
From: Shmuel Ben-Artzi <sba -at- NETMEDIA -dot- NET -dot- IL>
Date: Thu, 8 Aug 1996 20:37:00 +0200

Glanbrok, Slayer of Bluntskulls wrote:

>1. In person, you can use gestures, intonations, repetition, rephrasing, =
>and eye contact to convey meaning and get feedback.

>2. A written manual must be able to stand on its own (or at least be =
>part of a set of written docs), which requires careful phrasing, =
>unambiguous wording, correct diction, clear syntax, and all the other =
>aspects that tech writers are supposed to have mastered.


Wrong. Well, right, but....

What you just described are the hallmarks of a good oral presentation.
Having admittedly had considerably more experience with the oral side of the
communications spectrum than on the written, I will make the following
statement emphatically and without the slightest reservation.

If I make a speech, give a lecture or present a seminar using
less-than-careful phrasing, ambiguous wording, incorrect diction, unclear
syntax or any of a number of other closely-related sins, THEN I HAVE FAILED
IN MY TASK. If at least most of the individuals who make up my audience (not
an amorphous blob of humanity, but a collection of real people) cannot state
within two or three sentences the essence of what I presented, THEN I HAVE

Sure I can use audience feedback to let me know when I'm not making my point
as clearly or as concisely as I might. But my real task in *developing* the
presentation must be to see that this does not happen in the first place.

Now, does that not sound somewhat like the test of a well-written technical
document? So I will stand by my original statement. While the tools and, to
a certain extent, the techniques used may differ, the basic principles of
communication apply to *both* forms of communication: verbal and non-verbal.

Shmuel Ben-Artzi
Netanya, Israel
sba -at- netmedia -dot- net -dot- il

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