Going Beyond Technical Writing: Practical Advice for Diversifying Your Skillset -- Podcast Interview with Mark Hanigan
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In many companies, writers who stick with writing-only tasks quickly become outdated, as IT departments begin to perceive documentation as a commodity that can be outsourced.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.
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 [email protected]
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.
MadCap Flare is the most versatile XML-based Help authoring tool on the market, with thousands of customers using MadCap products including Microsoft, Google, HP, GE, yahoo and the list goes on. Check out Flare version 3.1 and a host of other new tools at at madcapsoftware.com.
Lunar Pages offers basic web hosting starting at $6.95. When you sign up for a basic hosting account, you get 350 GB of storage, 3500 GB of bandwidth per month, free tech support, Fantastico, and and dozens of other tools. If you've been thinking about starting your own self-hosted blog, contact Lunarpages.com to set it up.
Adobe – The Technical Communication Suite software offers a complete solution for authoring, managing, and publishing interactive instructional information from technical documents and books to online help systems, knowledge bases, interactive training, and eLearning content in multiple formats and languages. Learn more here.
About Tom Johnson
I'm a technical writer / API doc specialist based in the Seattle area. In this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, visual communication, information architecture, writing techniques, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out simplifying complexity and API documentation for some deep dives into these topics. If you're a technical writer and want to keep on top of the latest trends in the field, be sure to subscribe to email updates. You can also learn more about me or contact me.