REALLY L-O-N-G Response to Tech Writers As Trainers -

Subject: REALLY L-O-N-G Response to Tech Writers As Trainers -
From: Julie Tholen <julie_tholen -at- CNT -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 22 Aug 1997 15:43:46 -0500

I want to respond to Kathy Marshall's post; I hope that don't
step on any toes.

Kathy wrote:

> So when I am approached about writing these training materials, I want
> to also suggest I assist with the training.
Swell! The profession can always use more committed people. But
consider the following things:
Do you have a background in any of the following areas (if not
would you be willing to get some training)?
Stand up presentation
Class direction and control
Effective listening techniques
General presentation skills/tools
Adult Learning Theory/learning styles
Instructional design and development
Instructional strategies
Any classroom instruction experience such as Open U, dance
class, religious ed classes, etc.
Public speaking
Customer service

> Is this so unusual?
I started out doing documentation and moved into training during
my grad program. I had done informal training - coaching, mentoring
and formal classroom work before I started my program; a ton
during my program. Upon graduation I did technical training for a
software house for almost two years. At present I am doing
full-time technical writing

> To me, it makes so much sense. Next to the programmers, I know our
> software inside and out.
> Heck, I've written about it and know where to find everything in the
> manuals!
That maybe so, but training is an art and science all rolled
into one with a huge dose of diplomacy and fire-walking thrown in for
good measure. If your learners zone out on you; if they are
defensive; if you have a mixed classrooms (techies/endusers); if your
product has bugs
(gasp!) - the variables and dynamics are endless and you as the
training get to deal with them
all while trying to impart knowledge and encouraging skill

> Can you believe some of our trainers didn't even know we had online
> help? Not surprising. How do you develop the products? Are trainers
> included on the development teams? At what point are they
brought into the process?

> Another was assisting a client with a tech support problem, and didn't
> realize the solution was clearly covered in a troubleshooting section
> of the manual. (No one ever reads the manuals!!...ah, story of
> my life.)
It has always amazed me that some writers undervalue trainers,
and visa versa. While they hold some skills in common, each profession
has its own unique skill set. It takes some work to learn the
appropriate skills but it can be done. It does make a nice change of
pace to walk (or run) on the other track. It can be beneficial for each
set of deliverables.

Establishing a liaison with the training group by assisting with
the materials is a good way to start moving into that field. It would
give you a chance to see what their job is really like. Sit in on some
classes ( if you don't already) - see what the classroom
atmosphere and dynamics are like at your shop (they can vary a great

Most of all be truthful with yourself. Take a look at what your
comfort level is; your work style; are you an introvert or an extrovert.
Training for most professionals is an extremely high energy job (even if
they look laid back, their adrenaline is pumping). There are some fun
tools that can help you do that.

Anyhow, if you decide that it is the path for you, good
luck-have fun-and check your ego at the door.


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