The Importance of Clear and Concise Communication

Recently I was doing a training seminar on technical communication. I reviewed what I wanted to discuss and thought about what technical communicators needed to pay attention to. Of course, the reader was the first thing that came to mind. Then I dug deeper. I realized it was how clearly and concisely any document is written for the audience reading it.

How clearly and concisely a document is written affects the reader in many ways. Readers generally skim, scan, or read word-for-word. It depends on their needs. Skimming lets a reader get an overview of the document. Scanning a document lets a reader find exactly what they are looking for without having to read the whole document.

Mainly these two methods of looking at a document let the reader find data first, such as test results, cost, statistics, or any other organized data. Usually once a reader finds what they are looking for they read word-for-word. Reading word-for-word allows a reader to pick up any details they may have missed and to get a greater understanding of what they are reading.

Technical writers turn data into information for their readers.

When creating a technical document, the first thing technical writers receive is data. That data could be test results, program code, interviews, phenomenological research, statistics, quantitative research results, or any number of other types of data. It doesn’t matter if the data is correlated, raw, or analyzed. As writers, we need to make sure when we get data, that we shape it into information so that the reader can skim, scan, or read it word-for-word.

We shape the information by organizing and presenting the data to the reader so that they can gain knowledge. Once a reader has the knowledge they need, they can then make decisions to take the correct action needed. Even if the reader decides not to do anything, the action in that case is deciding to do nothing. For example, test results show that lead levels are acceptable to government standards. No further action for mitigation is required for the report reader. They can schedule the next test if necessary.

This all comes back to writing clearly and concisely. If the writing in a document is not clear and concise, the technical writer doesn’t fully understand what they are writing. In other words, they don’t understand the data, the process, or the procedure enough to write information clearly and concisely for the document’s audience. Unfortunately, the document fails for the reader if they cannot turn the information in the document to knowledge.

New Semester at CSUDH – Study Technical Writing!

The Advanced Tech writing class starts Tuesday May 26th, 2020. The course is completely online and I look forward to meeting all new students. For this class, I allow students to take it even if they have not completed the Intro course. We work on putting together a portfolio as well as learning advanced technical writing techniques. This program is approved for funding through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Find out more on the CSUDH link below. #csudh #technicalwriting #technical #documentation #technicalwriter #writing

CSUDH Program Link

Check out more information at: Technical Writing Courses & Schedule

Learn Technical Writing at CSUDH

Using Technical Marketing

 Working as a full time technical communicator and professor for years, I have received quite a few questions by both my students and by various organizational management on what it means to be a technical communicator versus a technical writer. Yes– I said organizational management. Technical communication is a broad field from white papers to manuals, data sheets, technical blog posts, applications, how-to’s, video training instructions, vlogs and more. Today technical communication encompasses not just documents but all kinds of media and crosses other fields once thought to be silos in the workplace.

I want to discuss technical marketing. Working in this area of technical communication the last several years I have come to realize how much technical marketing relies on technical writing to take complex information and make it succinct.  Fields overlap in technical communication in general, which is why the term technical communication is commonly used today instead of technical writing. Technical marketing is one of the fields where there is even more overlap. Think of it like technical writing meets the marketing pitch. Confused as to how technical writing is used in marketing? This confuses quite a few people, so no worries.

Technical marketing is any type of marketing that concentrates on specifications and key product features that fulfill a need for customers and businesses (B2B) requiring an understanding of technical aspects of a product. Technical writing is used to convert product  information clearly and concisely for a user to gain knowledge. The buyer can make informed decisions on products/services or discover new products/services they might want. Think of technical marketing as a part of a bigger marketing plan in a technology related business.

Generally technical marketing is done in a high tech industry but it is becoming commonplace in fields not considered high tech. Businesses such as oil, gas, manufacturing are using more intricate product that are integrating tech. For example, the process industry is pushing the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). IIoT is being adopted so that instruments that were once siloed at a facility, are on their own Intranet relaying real time information for maintenance and monitoring.

Technical marketing supports customers and businesses who need to get information on the ever-growing complex tech market. Each aspect of a marketing plan can contain technical writing. Marketing automation, for example, can consist of email blasts and educational or nurturing drip campaigns that are used to deliver technical newsletters and key targeted technical information to customers who already have considerable knowledge in their field.

Social media can be used to deliver all sorts of technical content such as instructional videos, technical blog posts, and problem solvers to a wider audience. Inbound marketing opportunities can be created with useful technical examples, such as procedures or processes, posted on a company’s website with links to products to help solve a need.

Today technical communication is more important than ever in creating clear and concise content with the ever growing amount of information on the Internet. Technical marketing plays an important role in bringing products to market and technical information to customers.

Fantastic Time at the SCBWI LA Working Writer’s Retreat

This year I attended the LA Working Writer’s Retreat in September generously run by SCBWI. Lots of one-on-one work and I found some great new friends. I highly recommend this retreat if you have something written and want feedback or just general improvement in your writing in either picture book, middle grade, or young adult.  This year Stephanie Guerdan (Knight Literary Agency), Nephele Tempest (Assistant Editor at Harper Collins) and Victoria Wells Arms (Wells Arms Literary) provided incredible input and dicussion. Thanks for all the crits and warm feedback. Slots fill up very quickly so if you plan on attending next year, be ready to apply. If your not a member of SCBWI, join!

You can review more at the SCBWI page.