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Going Beyond Technical Writing: Practical Advice for Diversifying Your Skillset -- Podcast Interview with Mark Hanigan

Jan 29, 2008 • podcasts

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Duration: 35 min.

In this podcast, I talk with Mark Hanigan, former international STC president, about ways to go beyond technical writing. I knew Mark at the STC-Suncoast chapter in Florida and often, during "post-meeting-meetings," listened to him talk about ways to transition from technical writing into tasks that companies perceive as having higher value, such as business analysis and project management.

Mark strongly believes that technical writers often sell themselves short. Given our skill set, our attention to detail, and our comprehensive understanding of the applications we document, we become de facto SMEs who can deliver more than just a software manual. We can create business requirements, contribute UML diagrams representing workflows and processes, create computer-based training, influence business methodologies, implement content management strategies, present training and e-learning courses to users, help meet regulatory standards, and more.

In many companies, writers who stick with writing-only tasks quickly become outdated, as IT departments begin to perceive documentation as a commodity that can be outsourced. Mark talks about ways to diversify your skillset, wear many hats, and bring more value to the company.

He also talks about the essential quality that technical writers must have today: an ability to embrace change, to adapt and learn new technologies. This is, he explains, one reason for his abiding involvement in the STC: instantaneous access to colleagues who share information about the latest tools and technologies they're using.

About Mark

Mark, an STC fellow and former international STC president, is a frequent presenter at conferences, including the STC Conference. He is currently a member of the Suncoast and Orlando chapters in Florida. To contact Mark, send him an e-mail at

Special Announcement from STC-Atlanta

The Society for Technical Communication (STC), Atlanta Chapter is pleased to announce the Currents 2008 conference on March 14-15, 2008 at Southern Polytechnic State University, Marietta, Georgia campus.

Currents provides a great opportunity for technical communicators to expand their professional skills and to network with peers. The conference is open to any technical communication professional regardless of skill level or position. We also invite other professionals who are interested in the technical communication field. Join us to expand your skills, network with other professionals, and have fun with friends.

Learn more about the Currents Conference.

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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer based in the California San Francisco Bay area. Topics I write about on this blog include technical writing, authoring and publishing tools, API documentation, tech comm trends, visual communication, technical writing career advice, information architecture and findability, developer documentation, and more. If you're a professional or aspiring technical writer, be sure to subscribe to email updates using the form above. You can learn more about me here.