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Location is everything when it comes to getting information from SMEs — Carcast

by Tom Johnson on Sep 20, 2007
categories: podcasts

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In this carcast, I deliver a 20 minute monologue about the best way to get information from SMEs: sit by them, permanently if possible. Many IT organizations station the writer remotely from the developers, programmers, and other SMEs, but nothing could be more damaging to getting the information you need. Increasing your proximity also increases the communication you receive. Music is from 37Hz.

More about this carcast

This is my second carcast so far. Actually, I botched this carcast several times and this was my fourth recording of it. By then I was tired of the topic and it showed, but I didn't want to delete it entirely.

The basic idea in the carcast is that to get information from SMEs, you need to sit near them. Proximity opens up the channels of communication.

The first time I recorded the carcast, I did it spur of the moment for fun. I wandered a bit and said a few things that didn't sound like me, but by and large it had more energy and passion than any other recording of the same topic.

The second time I recorded, it was too early (4:30 a.m.), and I sounded weird. It was like I was emphasizing my words too carefully; plus my nose was plugged. I deleted that too.

The third time I was on fire and I don't think I paused hardly at all. I was racing through everything I wanted to say. Then I got home and realized the memory card was full and it had stopped recording at the 9 minute mark. This is one of the downfalls of the H4 Zoom recorder — when the disk is full, it stops silently.

The fourth time, tonight, I was just going through the motions. It does sound more like me, but the pauses (as I search for my thoughts or the right words) trouble me. Learning exactly how to pause, when and with what emphasis, must be key to effective delivery.

I remember reading or hearing Dave Winer say that you should only record things once, because if you record them multiple times, you forget what you've said. I think he has a good point — the first time, you may make mistakes, but also have more authentic emotion, which counts for more.

About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm an API technical writer based in the Seattle area. On this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, AI, information architecture, content strategy, writing processes, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out my API documentation course if you're looking for more info about documenting APIs. Or see my posts on AI and AI course section for more on the latest in AI and tech comm.

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