It's an election year here in the USA, and the only thing the presidential candidates agree on is that the federal government needs to become much more efficient. They're all promising to make it happen, but so far nobody's promised to improve the way the feds communicate with the public.
I like to write, but as a writer of business communications, I'm faced with a hard truth—nobody wants to read the stuff I'm writing. Watching people use my documents, it's obvious to me that they aren't reading—they're skipping and scanning through the content, hunting for the information they need. They're in a hurry to get back to whatever they were doing, as quickly as possible.
Good writers understand this and design documents that help users find what they're looking for.
Feeling under-appreciated? You’re not alone. If you spend time on technical communicators’ Internet groups, you can’t help but notice frequent complaints that upper management doesn’t acknowledge the value of documentation or give those who create it the respect they deserve.
It was an absolute pleasure for me to attend and present at the 2015 LavaCon Conference on content strategy and Techcomm management the week of October 18th. Little did I know what was in store for me when I arrived in New Orleans that Sunday morning.
Last week Information Mapping exhibited at tcworld 2015, the largest European (and probably also the largest global) event and marketplace for technical communication.
The hostess at a restaurant isn’t asked to prepare the food. Nobody expects the sales manager at an auto dealership to repair transmissions or adjust brakes. Yet within enterprises all over the world, engineers, IT professionals, business analysts, administrative managers, supervisors and other employees are routinely tasked with writing policies and procedures, work instructions and many other types of documentation.
Writing in plain language is supposed to clarify and simplify, so readers can work quickly and easily. But writing with clarity and simplicity isn’t quick or easy. It isn’t cheap, either.