RE: Tape Recording End Users & SMEs

Subject: RE: Tape Recording End Users & SMEs
From: Lief Erickson <lerickson -at- mqsoftware -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 13 Sep 1999 09:38:19 -0500

Anthony Markatos recently inquired:

>1.) Do you tape record your interviews with end users and/or SMEs? If so,
>why? If not, why?

Lief Erickson's response:

I have started to record my SMEs for the same reason that you seem to -
there is a lot of information that they give you in the half-hour or hour
meeting that you have with them. My pen can be quick, but what seems simple
and logical in the meeting is often forgotten by the time I leave the
meeting. If I didn't write it down (because it was too simple and logical)
or didn't write enough information down, then I must stop by the SMEs desk,
write an e-mail or pester them again about something that they have already
covered. Besides, I only have so much brownie mix at home for SME
consumption. :)

I am a lone writer and project priorities often shift around here, so having
the old meeting tapes allows me to go back a previous project smoothly.

While it can be time consuming to listen to the tapes again, I would rather
have the tapes to refer back to, if I need them.

I have one rule though:

Do not use the tape itself when arguing a point with an SME if they
give you incorrect information. Use your notes.

By recording the information, you have all the time you need to write notes
into your notebook. You have established yourself as being a good note
taker, so your notes must be correct. (When was the last time an SME took
notes?) If you use the tape itself to refute the SME, they may not want to
talk with it on in the future for fear of being wrong. (This is especially
bad if the SME is your boss. :\ )

>2.) Is tape recording frequently utilized?

It isn't frequent, but we don't have a lot of meetings. I only record at the
meetings that are project or product specific. I always ask permission
before using the tape recorder.

-Lief Erickson
Sr. Technical Writer
MQSoftware, Inc.
lerickson -at- mqsoftware -dot- com

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