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Technical Communication "Retreat" in Stuttgart

23-11-2018

This year I visited the TCWorld 2018 in beautiful Stuttgart. This was my third visit to this conference for technical communications professionals. This time I had the honor of presenting on a topic I have years of experience with: the review process. You can read the article here. I hope to add a link to a video of my presentation later.
Arriving at the TCWorld conference is overwhelming. As you stand in line to pick up your badge and the conference program, you realize that you have many colleagues. In the Netherlands the TechCom business is relatively small. A few months ago I visited the Adobe TechComDay in Amsterdam, and the room was filled with familiar faces. At the TCWorld you see how large the international technical communication business really is.

Science of Technical Communication
As a technical communication professional I am usually focused on producing content and understanding systems. During the conference I took a break from all that and focused on the science and research on technical communication. Ms Leah Guren enlightened me on User Compliance. She presented the results of observations and tests we seldom get to do. I was surprised to learn, for instance, that a text in a box (such as a warning or caution) is often ignored. Professor Kirk St. Amant explained the cognitive psychology models that technical communicators can use to improve their user compliance.

Mutual Experiences
Meeting colleagues from all over the world is always inspiring. I enjoyed listening to software writers who work in Agile teams in an international collaborative environment. During and after my presentation I heard from many authors what their experiences are with reviewers, especially Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). The SMEs are my source of information to create the content, and when I finish the content I rely on them once more to get my content correct, complete and approved. My colleagues and I agreed that the relationship with the SME is there for crucial in creating quality content.

What's next?
Last time I held a presentation at TCWorld on making a Document Specification. This presentation explained how a clear scope and requirements help streamline your process and eventually improve your content. This time I focused on the end of the documentation process. My passion is the documentation process, working with a group of SMEs, technical writers and illustrators on large documentation projects.
Please contact me if you would like to share your experiences.

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