Come see my presentation at the Society for Technical Communication 2016 Summit in Anaheim!
Ever wonder why sometimes the other person on the other end of an email, phone, or conference room doesn’t understand what you say? Try this activity out and reflect on your experience!
One of the neatest exercises I’ve done was write a procedure for drawing one of the world’s famous cats, Garfield. (Yes, I am aware that Hello Kitty is another famous cat). We were given a picture of the feline and told to write instructions for about ten minutes. Then we passed that sheet to our neighbor and asked them to draw Garfield based on those instructions–literally.
Reading someone else’s instructions is an interpretation of what they see that you should understand and perform. Sometimes those instructions are vague and not clear. Whatever the case, the task was to draw the cat the way you read their instructions.
My drawing was ugly, but smug. I took the instructions literally and came up with what I thought Garfield was supposed to look like.
The purpose of the exercise was to understand that we need to communicate in a clear and concise way that can lead others to understand us. Also this exercise gave us the opportunity to see how other people interpret our instructions. We can see difficulty communicating our thoughts easily and how those thoughts can be hard for someone else to understand.
Mind blowing? Yes! Not everyone understands the way you think and you can’t assume they can figure out what you say.
Thoughts to Consider
Think about it the next time that you communicate, are you:
- communicating clearly?
- writing concisely?
- understanding where others stand?
- making sense?
As technical communicators upgrade technologies, one thing we should consider is moving to the cloud. Before soaring into the clouds, we should take a moment and find out more about the history of cloud technology, the tools we currently use, and what cloud tools are available to increase our productivity and maximize our return on investment (time and money). In this presentation I gave to the 2014 Mid-Atlantic Technical Communication Conference, I went into the details about cloud technology, the pitfalls, and provide insight from fellow technical communicators on their usage of cloud technology.
I also want to give many thanks to the STC Philadelphia Metropolitan Chapter for putting together such an amazing event this year. They were kind and gracious to accommodate me in Pennsylvania to present. Many thanks goes to the conference chairs, board members, and volunteers who set this conference up.
If you have never been to a professional conference, I highly recommend starting out with regional conferences and this one is very accessible to many technical communicators within the Washington DC, Philadelphia, and New York metropolitan areas. We had such a great time at the conference, Danielle Villegas felt the conference was better than the previous year. As an added bonus and I am quoting Barrie Byron on an earlier conversation, these weekend conferences offer “high value and are low cost.” The return on investment is extremely great. Why not attend one?
Now, the presentation. If you want to check out more presentations from this year’s Mid-Atlantic Technical Communication Conference, almost all of the slide decks are uploaded on SlideShare and tagged as STCPMC14.