Location: United States

Recently awarded rank of Fellow, Society for Technical Communcation (STC). Owner, Well Chosen Words (, providing consultative support for communication projects including management of complex proposal projects for small business clients to submit to secure contracts with government agencies. Aging gracefully with the ability to see humor in the ironic.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Anything You Can Do, We Can Do Better

We technical communicators are a pretty diverse bunch of professionals with skills, talents, and depth of experience across a broad range of subjects, industries, and disciplines. Yet, it seems to me that we all are qualified well beyond the work that we usually claim for ourselves. Consider taking the list of qualifications in this article and matching it against the qualifications for the communication and/or collaborative job you have in mind - particularly if motivation of team, analysis of audience, and project management are involved too. And, if you're lucky, you may get to write - to be a writer - too. (And, BTW - lately I'm been writing short stories.)

An Encouraging Exercise: Match Technical Communicator abilities to anticipated project activities
A partial list of what technical communication managers know how to do…

1. Formulate and follow directions; give and comply with instructions
2. Collaborate with technical experts and executive managers; build effective relationships
3. Write convincing narratives
4. Interview scientists and engineers
5. Establish and manage complex schedules, rollercoaster costs, budgets
6. Assemble and train ad hoc project teams; mentor
7. Organize peer and editorial reviews; resolve comments
8. Develop and implement project communication plans
9. Mediate, negotiate; balance disparate work styles
10. Design, prepare, and revise resumes and project descriptions
11. Develop creative ways to display information in varying media
12. Showcase technical products effectively
13.Get communication projects out the door on schedule, under budget
14. Understand when to stop revising and accept “good enough”
15. Work under tight, inflexible deadlines
16. Facilitate meetings; insist on action item resolution
17. Apply generalist’s knowledge and interest in many subjects
18. Resurrect and improve old text; adapt “boilerplate.”
19. Keep one’s cool when all about are losing theirs
20. Retain an affection for words and pictures
21. Communicate warmly with clients and stakeholders
22. Manage production and distribution of high quality deliverables
23. Plan and conduct meetings, presentations, post reviews
24. Retain sense of humor; practice patience; appreciate irony
25. Choreograph exuberant celebrations


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