TechWhirl Poll: Must-have Skills for Technical Communicators

This month, TechWhirl and Tech Writer Today go “Back to the Basics” with in-depth looks at basic skills technical communicators should have in their repertoires… what’s changed, what hasn’t… what constitutes a basic skill… what’s on the horizon?  Probably no one would argue that writing and editing are  must-haves, but beyond these two, some debate is likely to ensue.  At least judging by the discussion list threads over the years!

We love to have your input, so get started by taking our TechWhirl Poll. And feel free to add a comment on those “other” skills that aren’t listed and the ones that are on this list.

Besides writing and editing, what skills are must-haves for technical communicators?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Connie Giordano

Connie Giordano

10 years ago

Other must-have skills: planning and time management!

Craig

10 years ago

Other must-have skills: Being comfortable with shifting priorities and deadlines.

Kai

10 years ago

Other must-have skills: Understanding your customer’s business. Understanding your employer’s business. Understanding how your work benefits both.

Al Martine

Al

10 years ago

Another very necessary skill is being able to organize the information into a comprehendible order (analysis and organization)

TechWhirl: Technical Communications Recap for Jan. 13, 2012 | Tech Writer Today Magazine by TechWhirl

10 years ago

[…] those words that mean quite different things to different people.  Judging from the responses to our new poll on must-have technical communication skills, interviewing (i.e. interviewing subject matter experts) and research skills are two most technical […]

Raj

10 years ago

Hi Kai, how will the employer effectively measure the usefulness and contribution of the technical writer to the overall business objective? How will the technical writer know the tangible and intangible benefits of documentation to the company’s business?

Connie Giordano

Connie Giordano

10 years ago

Hi Raj,
Measurement is one of the areas that technical writers seem to have the most problem with. But it is the primary way that companies judge the value of staff to the organization. Have a look at the TechWhirl article I did in December – “Getting Started on Managing (and Measuring) Interdepartmental Technical Communication Requests” for some ideas and the rationale behind the importance of measuring what we do.

The folks who control the purse strings are looking for quantitative results, and we need to give them what they’re looking for.

Raj

10 years ago

My argument is it is not that easy. I don;t think there exists a flawless mechanism to measure a technical writer’s contribution to the company’s business success. If there is a portal, yes the company an have numbers from analytics. But, how will a company measure the effectiveness of manuals and help files, map it to an individual tech writer, and then map it to the company’s business? It is an intangible thing that cannot be easily measured.

I often hear this “company’s success” buzzword. I think that we are in no way near to measuring it in a precise and scientific manner. It is like asking a journalist to write scoops on a daily basis to increase a newspaper’s circulation.

Connie Giordano

Connie Giordano

10 years ago

I agree, but I don’t think technical writers have some unique lock on the difficulty of measuring contributions, I’ve seen that complaint since I took my first job out of high school. However, we need to start somewhere, rather than complaining that it cannot be easily measured. As more of us start defining metrics and the application of them, we will have a larger pool of ideas on how to make the connections between effective deliverables, improved customer experience, and individual staff member contributions.

Raj

10 years ago

Another word I have often seen to “measure” technical writer contribution is something called “pro-activeness”. I have never understood what makes the big boss or the manager use this word to deny a good appraisal to or slight a technical writer.

Please tell me how will you measure a thing called “pro-activeness”. Technical writers may be pro-active in their own ways, but it may not appear so to someone else. Where is the benchmark for measuring “pro-activeness”? These intangible elements can be the result of serious personal prejudice also.

Subscribe to TechWhirl via Email