On Wednesday, March 21, we met at Lawrence Technological University for our program Clear and Simple. Our speaker, Ed Lanigan, spoke on how clarifying information and presenting it in a simple way improves our ability to communicate with our readers and creates better customer experiences. Ed has more than 20 years of multi-industry experience focused on customer experience, service performance, and six-sigma continuous improvement, and we are very grateful to have had the opportunity to hear him speak.
This thought-provoking discussion detailed the process of implementing a company-wide strategy for designing and using standardized letter templates that not only improved internal processes by slimming down unnecessary communication but also improved the content of the letters by providing a set of guidelines for writers. With the use of a standardized template, employees in different sections of the company could customize communication to clients while maintaining company branding and ensuring that the information the reader needed to know was visible and well-designed. Continue reading “Program Recap: Clear and Simple With Speaker Ed Lanigan”
On February 27, 2018, STC-SM held a networking event at Doc’s Sports Bar in Livonia, MI. Six of us gathered after work for snacks, beverages, and great conversation. Four were members of the STC-SM chapter and two were non-members. As a friendly reminder, STC-SM welcomes everyone at our events. Membership is not a requirement, so please join us anytime.
During our networking session, we discussed our different careers in technical communications, along with the paths we traveled to become technical communicators. We also discussed the evolving skillsets employers require in a technical communicator, and traded tips about staying current as our profession evolves. Additional topics included technical communications programs at universities (undergraduate and graduate levels) and interview techniques and portfolio building. We wrapped up the evening by talking about ideas for future STC-SM program meetings and services that the STC-SM chapter can provide for technical communicators in our area.
It was truly an enjoyable evening. By the time we left, I personally felt more connected to fellow technical communicators, and to our community at large.
Please check our upcoming events, and come on out. We would love to see you soon!
Our speaker, Bonnie Tew, had just shaken her head, said “I am sorry, I just can’t do this…,” and walked out of the room. She had our full attention when she walked back in. She wanted to know if we had ever felt like that. Many of us nodded our heads in agreement.
Format: Panel Location: Lawrence Technological University (LTU) Panelists:
Maryann Bowen—Senior Manager of Education and User Experience, Saphran, Inc.
Steven D. Krause—Professor of Rhetoric and Writing, Eastern Michigan University
Rich Leazer—Documentation and Publishing Manager, Health Information Technology & Services, Michigan Medicine (formerly University of Michigan Health System)
Catherine Vera-Burgos—Manager of BCN Provider Communications, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan; graduate student at Wayne State University. For the purposes of this panel discussion, Catherine Vera-Burgos was asked to participate from the perspective of a graduate student rather than a manager.
Spring is finally here, and so is a wide array of professional conferences to attend. You may remember my recap of the STC Summit last year and my belief in the value of attending professional conferences. With the long, dreary winter days behind us, spring is the perfect time to reenergize, set new goals, expand your network, learn something new, and reawaken that drive to advance your career, or even consider a career change. Continue reading “Spring Conferences Are in the Air”
On Tuesday, March 21, 2017, we convened at Washtenaw Community College for an excellent presentation on creating video with Camtasia, a video editor and screen recorder that produces cross-platform files. TechSmith’s Andrea Perry spoke briefly about the increasing role of video in instructional design, then showed and reverse-engineered the process of creating a short video, Camtasia Behaviors. Continue reading “Camtasia: a Recap”
On Monday, February 13, panelists John Baker, Rich Leazer, and Bob Powell convened in the Welcome Center at Lawrence Tech to focus on three questions:
Why does communication matter in the workplace?
What types of internal and external communication are used?
How is communication accomplished and what are the trends?
Throughout the discussion, the panel focused on the need to be clear and concise, provide context, and be correct. They considered anticipating users’ needs, understanding audience, and the importance of interpersonal communication regardless of changing technology. Continue reading “Recap of Panel on Trends in Tech Comm”
On October 26, 2016, a dozen STC/SM members and guests convened at Washtenaw Community College (WCC) for Jeanette Brooks’ presentation on mindfulness. Geoffrey Walchak, a WCC technical communication student, wrote about her presentation for us, and Pat Martz, STC/SM blog editor, edited it.
What Is Mindfulness?
“Mindfulness,” Brooks told us, “is increasing awareness while paying attention without judgment.” “Without judgment” is the most important part because as soon as we start to assign value (or non-value) to things or people, it pulls us out of the present moment and into ruminating—worrying about the future, or dwelling on the past; while this is happening, the present moment is occurring and you are missing it.
“But don’t get too consumed by the present,” she warned us. She went on to explain how someone can be both the observer and the actor simultaneously. To pay attention without judgment is like being a witness to what happens to yourself, objectively observing everything as it happens. In time, practitioners can engage in action mindfully. That is to say, practitioners never completely let go of objective observation. Continue reading “Recap of Mindfulness Presentation”
We all do our best to consider the user when creating our technical communications, but there is no better way to really find out what our users are thinking than to ask them! Even though it sounds simple, there are many factors to consider when creating a usability testing project.
Catherine Vera-Burgos and Sherri Dansby described how their team at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) conducted an extensive usability testing project to answer the central question: “What is important to the users of our four provider manuals, and how can we make it easier for (internal and external) users to find the information they need?” Continue reading “Program Recap: What is the User’s Experience?”
Greetings from Anaheim, California! I’m here at the STC Summit and just attended the annual Leadership Program that kicks off the Summit each year. Some of the highlights were:
The basics of running a community — Emily Alfson (also an STC/SM member!) delivered an informative talk about some of the many tools available to STC members looking to gain information about running successful STC communities. These resources include the Community Handbook, the Treasurer’s Handbook, the STC website, the CAC website, social media, and more!