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Top 10 Worst Things SMEs Say or Do -- Interview with Brenda Huettner

by Tom Johnson on Nov 12, 2007
categories: podcasts

Brenda Huettner

Listen here:

In this podcast, I interview Brenda Huettner about strategies for overcoming the top 10 Worst Things SMEs Say or Do. The top 10 list includes the following:

  1. The user will know how to do this. Do not worry about it.
  2. I just do not have time to review all of this.
  3. Oh, I will just write it myself (and then it is awful/useless, and they get insulted if you try to correct or fix it)
  4. Documentation is not necessary, the interface is obvious.
  5. I cannot give you access to this …
  6. Is generally mean/nasty and rude to you. You have no rapport with them.
  7. Keeps him or herself unavailable to you, or is evasive and rarely present to help you with the information you need.
  8. Gives you explanations, but goes extremely fast and falls into masses of acronyms and other jargon. Or, gives you a screen demo, but blows so fast through the application that you can't follow it. Then is impatient when you ask for slower instructions, or for them to repeat something.
  9. Promises to review the document, but never does, or does so only superficially, noting typos.
  10. Forgets to tell you about changes to the application that affect documentation.

To visit Brenda's blog, go to Brenda is an STC Fellow, an officer in the, and co-author of Managing Virtual Teams.

This podcast is a special edition produced specifically for the Kraków ID Writer's Circle in Poland -- a group of Information Developers for IBM that meet weekly to discuss Technical Writing topics. I'm always like to hear from listeners, especially when they're in other countries. If you would like to request a special topic, or just want to send feedback, email me at [email protected].

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Tech Writer Voices features podcasts related to the field of technical communication. You can download and listen to these podcasts on the go, so that while driving to work or running on the gym treadmill, you can continue learning and expanding your knowledge of the rapidly changing, always interesting field of help authoring. Are you interested in starting a podcast? Contact me and I'll show you how for free.

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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