After many years of blogging, and consistent with my desire to move toward retirement, we have ended the Insights blog. Thanks to Doug Bedell for his years of blog support.

Technical Writers Who Speak, Too

Posted on July 30, 2011
Filed Under Technology, The Writing Life | Leave a Comment

Technical writers may be able to get more mileage, and income, from their knowledge if they can speak it, as well as write it. The notion of speaking about technology to an audience may make some writers queasy, but Sarah Maddox found that it can go surprisingly well.

Sara is a technical writer in Australia who does “ffeathers – a technical writer’s blog.” “You could have blown me down with a feather duster if you’d told me that I would speak at a conference,” she writes. “Then I met Joe Welinske and started blabbing about my love of documentation wikis. There was probably a lot of arm waving and even a bit of in-place leaping about. Joe quickly suggested that I speak at the next WritersUA conference. I remember silence. I probably went pale. But I must have said yes, because within a few months I found myself on stage.

“To my absolute astonishment,” Sarah continues, “my presentation went reasonably well. Since then I’ve presented sessions at a few conferences, and I enjoy the experience more each time.”

Stands to reason. Technical writers need to organize their material in a meticulous fashion, and with that done, it may be “readily” rendered as a verbal presentation. At least it will be orderly, which is a big part of what an audience expects.

Indeed, Sarah seems to be getting the speaking bug. “At work,” she continues, “our team has decided to investigate public speaking as a way of sharing our experiences with others and of learning from others too.” When she mentioned this intention on Twitter, the book, Confessions of a Public Speaker, by Scott Berkun, was recommended to her.

So technology may be spawning a (tweet) stream of speakers about the intricacies of the technical writing craft. That would be a good, satisfying thing for all concerned – the writers and audiences alike. – Doug Bedell


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