Preparing for Your Career in Tech Comm

Friday, February 26 @ 6:30 PM EST

Please join us on Zoom on February 26 at 6:30 PM EST for networking and presentations at 7:00 PM EST about preparing for your career in Tech Comm in STC’s joint meeting with UCF’s FTC. We will be featuring professional technical communicators from different roles and industries as speakers at the event. The meeting will be in a panel format with a Q&A at the end.

We are looking for presenters who can speak on any of these five subtopics: (1) Internships, (2) Resumes and interviewing, (3) Portfolios, (4) Tech Comm Tools, and (5) Career Paths. If you are interested in presenting, please fill out the call for presenters form by January 29. If you have someone you want to recommend, feel free to send it to them as well.

Writing for Everyone: Inclusive Technical Communication

As technical communicators, the documentation we create needs to incorporate a wide range of viewpoints and perspectives, promoting responsiveness and engagement with our message. By embracing inclusive communication, we make our products and services more accessible to everyone. It’s our responsibility to ensure we are including people regardless of culture, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, socioeconomic status, or appearance.

In this resource guide, we have put together links to useful resources for technical communicators who are looking to make their communication more inclusive. If you have any feedback or resources to share, please email Julia Southwick at newsletter@stcflorida.org.

Resources

An Incomplete Guide to Inclusive Language for Startups and Tech

Useful for: A crash-course in all aspects of inclusive communication.

Description: On their blog, Buffer has collected a treasure trove of inclusive communication guidelines, best practices, and examples. Reading this guide will give you the information you need to embrace inclusive language principles and the phrases to use in conversation (ableism, neurodiversity, POC, and many more). As the cherry on top, they include a list of common inclusive substitutions for common patterns. 

Writing inclusive documentation

Useful for: A quick review of phrases and biases to purge from your documentation.

Description: In its corporate style guide, Google provides a detailed list of guidelines and examples for writing inclusive documentation. This includes how to avoid ableist, gendered, and violent language along with examples for writing about features using inclusive language. 

Pronouns

Useful for: A concise guide for using gender-neutral pronouns in your documentation.

Description: In their corporate style guide, Google provides a grammatical guide for pronouns, including the gender-neutral they. 

How to write inclusive tech documentation

Useful for: An overview of how to make technical documentation inclusive.

Description: In these slides, Lucie Le Naour addresses the basics of inclusive documentation and some best practices for making your documentation user-centered.

The Technical Communicator as Advocate: Integrating a Social Justice Approach in Technical Communication

Useful for: An explanation of how principles of diversity, equality, and inclusion can improve technical communication research.

Description: In this article, Natasha Jones argues that embracing a humanistic perspective brings legitimacy to the field of technical communication. By openly addressing the social impacts of communication, tech comm can become a field that “understands, appreciates, and addresses the social contexts in which it operates.”

Alex

Useful for: Open-source software that helps you catch inconsiderate writing.

Description: Available for free from Github, Alex can highlight the insensitive text you might use while writing. As well as catching issues, Alex also suggests alternatives. You can try it out in the online demo and it’s also available for Slack.

Our Journey toward Using More Inclusive Language at PSPDFKit

Useful for: An explanation for how a company to make inclusive communication part of their culture.

Description: In this blog article, PSPDFKit explains how its company prioritized inclusive communication at their company as part of its mission to continuously improve. They address all aspects of inclusivity from their parental leave policy to language used in job ads.

How to Write Inclusive Documentation

Useful for: Identifying common documentation phrases that are exclusive and finding inclusive alternatives.

Description: Identifies common documentation phrases that are exclusive, why they are exclusive, and finding inclusive alternatives. Stresses writing empathetically and asking others who are not familiar with the topic being documented for feedback.

Automating Inclusive Documentation

Useful for: Finding open-source software to help automate the use of inclusive documentation.

Description: Acknowledges that what is and is not inclusive language is always changing and emphasizes continual learning. Continual learning combined with open-source software can help increase inclusive documentation- several open-source software options are listed.

Writing Inclusive Documentation

Useful for: Identifying common specific examples of ableist and unnecessarily gendered language and some of their alternatives.

Description: Empress Educators provides a convenient list of terms to use and terms to avoid.

The GayBCs of LGBT+ by Ash Hardell

Useful for: Introducing different terms in the LGBT+ community to increase understanding and inclusivity.

Description: A free version of The ABCs of LGBT+ that includes a “Cheat Sheet” at the beginning to define different LGBT+ terms and testimonials from inside the LGBT+ community on how impactful having the correct word(s) to describe oneself can be. The testimonials also describe some individuals’ journey to finding their identity.

Inclusive Writing in Video Game Documentation: A Technical Communication Approach

Useful for: Identifying how technical communication in the form of a game design document can help or hinder inclusivity in the video game industry.

Description: Although the game design document may or may not be written by technical communicators, the same principles apply. Typically, video games are made by straight white men for other straight white men and the communication surrounding these games can be alienating to other demographics; inclusive technical communication can be used to attract a diverse audience who would otherwise feel like they aren’t allowed to like or play video games.

Holiday Happy Hour Social

December 10 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm EST

Join us on Zoom on Dec 10, 2020, at 7:00 PM EDT for the STC Florida Holiday Happy Hour Social. This event is free for anyone who would like to join to unwind and celebrate the holiday break. Bring your drink of choice whether it’s hot chocolate, eggnog, or something a little stronger, and relax while catching up with your Florida chapter friends. 

While we can’t gather together in person this year, we look forward to seeing your smiling faces on the call. This event is entirely free, and you can register in advance for this meeting through Zoom. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

STC Florida 2020 Survey Results

Author: Julia Southwick, New Professional member/Communications Chair/Editor

The 2020 STC Florida Chapter survey was shared with everyone on our mailing list and following our social media channels in August 2020. As Chair of the Communication Committee and Newsletter Editor, I worked with the committee members and the administrative council to prepare the questions. While the preliminary results were shared at the September administrative council meeting, we wanted to break down the responses for everyone.

We want to thank everyone who took the time to respond to the survey. In total, we had 19 responses from members primarily, though a few non-members also provided their input. 

Engaging our Members

Volunteering Interest

When we asked participants what chapter activities they would like to participate in, many responded they’d like to help with communications. I welcome the help gladly and look forward to working with these volunteers! There was also plenty of interest in event planning and student outreach, as well as individuals who are not sure what they’d like to help with and many other topics are seen in the graphic below:

Forms response chart. Question title: Which of the following chapter activities would you like to participate in? (Select all that apply and include your email in the question above if you we can reach out to you.). Number of responses: 19 responses.

If you are interested in volunteering with the Florida Chapter, please reach out to the administrative council at adco@stcflorida.org to let us know.

New Member Engagement

During the leadership retreat, a new member expressed a desire for a new member orientation to introduce new members to our chapter. When we brainstormed, we came up with several options; the most popular of which was a new member packet with resources and the second most popular was an introductory video. Please see the below graph for more details.

Forms response chart. Question title: What new member orientation activities and events would you be interested in?. Number of responses: 13 responses.

We are looking for volunteers to help develop this new member orientation process, so again, please reach out if you would like to help develop a new member packet or introductory video.

Diversity and Inclusion

The Florida chapter has always been committed to diversity and inclusion (with inclusivity as one of our Values). In August of this year, John Paz joined us for a facilitated talk on Diversity in Technical Communication, which I strongly recommend viewing if you were not able to attend. 

Given the broader cultural conversation happening, we wanted to ask our members directly:

The STC Florida chapter is committed to embracing diversity and inclusion. Do you have recommendations for how we can achieve that vision?

While some respondents were content with our current commitment, we received the following specific recommendations that we encourage the administrative council to consider:

  • Pursuing speakers and topics beyond our typical comfort zones and embracing the tough conversations
  • Have David Thomas present his Fighting Bias Through Content Strategy presentation 
  • Open the mentoring program to historically black colleges and universities such as Bethune Cookman
  • A diversity and inclusion committee if we can get volunteers for it

Meeting Format

Our live education webinars continue to prove to be the most popular meeting format based on responses. However, there is still a strong interest in panel presentations, which we have held successfully online in the past.

We did have a volunteer to run a tech comm trivia night, which could be an engaging casual meeting for our members. 

Forms response chart. Question title: Which meeting formats do you prefer? All meetings will be virtual for this chapter year. (Select all that apply.). Number of responses: 19 responses.

Meeting/Workshop Topics

Members shared numerous ideas for upcoming meetings and workshops, with topics from specific tech comm tools to broader technical communication trends. We have broken down the suggestions broadly into categories.

Tech Comm Skills

We are always looking for chances to hone our skills as technical communicators, so it’s no surprise that we received the following suggestions:

  • Podcasting
  • API doc
  • Cybersecurity
  • Accessibility, UX/UI design, and strategies for the web 
  • Documentation project management
  • Roundtable for best practices and issues
  • Soft skills we often overlook that can be applied to any job
  • Usability testing (creating personas)*

Tools

  • Cutting edge and most popular technical writing applications/tools for technical writers today*
  • Easy tips for using Slack
  • Presentation tips on Zoom and Microsoft Teams
  • Tools, tips, tricks for efficiency
  • Automating conversions and repetitive tasks
  • New tools or how to use popular tools
  • Tools/tips of the trade 
  • Basic coding. Making macros, using shortcuts, etc.*
  • DITA, FrameMaker, UX design, reusable content, content management systems*
  • Visio, Arbortext, DITA, and any other programs that more established Tech Comm professionals have found useful*
  • Flare: importing Word documents to Flare.*

Trends

  • Digital transformation 
  • Using analytics to guide content creation
  • Discussions of issues presented in TechComm and Intercom
  • Communications across generations
  • Cultural attitudes in information: a look at Diversity and inclusion
  • LGBT+ and Tech Comm 

Career Development

  • Transitioning from a new writer to higher levels
  • LinkedIn and the job search
  • Business tips for freelancers
  • Self-study for STC Certification
  • Negotiation skills and career development*

*Workshop Suggestion

If you have been following our meeting calendar, you will notice that we have recently held meetings on several of these topics. The administrative council reviewed the preliminary results of the survey in September and planned meetings tailored to the highlighted suggestions. 

Moving forward we encourage the administrative council to pursue these suggested topics where possible. Based on the feedback, we see an interest from our members particularly in a tools workshop and for discussion-based meetings for sharing experiences. 

Communications

Participants were asked what tools they prefer for asynchronous communication and virtual meetings, many responded they’d prefer Slack and Zoom respectively. There was also plenty of interest in using Google Meet and many other platforms seen in the graphic below:

Forms response chart. Question title: Which of these tools do you prefer for asynchronous communication and virtual meeting attendance? (Select all that apply.). Number of responses: 19 responses.

In addition to what tools they’d prefer to use, participants were asked to rate their preferred communication channels. The chapter website came in first with email campaigns as a close second. The other options got similar ratings to each other:

Forms response chart. Question title: There are many ways we can deliver chapter news to you. Please rate the following communication channels.. Number of responses: .

General/Other Thoughts

At the end of the survey, participants were asked to let us know how we could improve the chapter. Many said they could not think of anything to improve and to keep doing what we’re doing. Others had suggestions for what to improve, which I have broken out under the headings below.

Virtual engagement

One participant suggested we offer more support (such as virtual meetings or creating in-person meetings when the world is pandemic-free) to other areas of Florida, such as the Tampa Bay area. Several others agreed that having online components to our meetings when we go back to in-person events would be a welcome change. A participant responded they’d like to see the chapter embrace new ways of engaging with members.

Volunteerism

Another suggestion was to encourage volunteerism by showing points of contact for opportunities, redirecting to a website, flyer, video, etc. with information that could jumpstart new members helping out.

Website updates

A request for an update to the website that would allow further suggestions for improvement was submitted by a participant. If such an update were implemented, we could ask for suggestions to be submitted there at every meeting.

Please Join Us for Daniel Foster’s webinar “The Value of Visual Content and a Simplified User Interface”

Hello STC Florida Members and Students,

We have a very special event planned this month. The STC North Texas Lone Star chapter and STC Florida chapter, in collaboration, are hosting
Daniel Foster, Snagit Strategy Manager from TechSmith. He will be helping us understand the advantages of Simplified User Interface (SUI) graphics and how they are being used to save companies time and money. He will show us how we can easily create these innovative graphics with Snagit.


DATE:  Live event is Thursday, November 12, 12:00 Noon to 1:00 PM CST (1:00pm EST) Live Event Replay at 7:00pm EST. You can attend both if you want.

This event is FREE! Check out the Event Promo on the NTLSC website.

To register, click on this Eventbrite RSVP link, and select the NTLSC option.

You will receive your login instructions for the event two hours prior to the LIVE event starting. Follow the instructions given for the recorded event as well.

The Value of Visual Content and a Simplified User Interface

Presented by Daniel Foster, Snagit strategy manager at TechSmith

Simplified User Interface (SUI) graphics are a modern approach for technical writers to explain user interfaces or concepts visually while avoiding some of the pitfalls of typical screenshots. This visual treatment for graphics is user-friendly, facilitates localization and updating, and is easy to create.

This talk will cover the advantages of SUI, how these graphics are being used to save companies time and money, and how you can easily create these innovative graphics with Snagit. We’ll also share original research that quantifies (in time and dollars) the impact of images and video on understanding, retention of complex information, task completion, and productivity.

About our speaker

Daniel Foster has 18 years of software industry experience, much of it in marketing communications, content creation, and social media. Currently, he heads up market and product strategy for Snagit, the #1 software tool used by technical communicators.
He’s also been a speaker at the STC Summit, LavaCon, tcworld, and GALA conferences.

Testimonial about a previous Snagit webinar with Daniel Foster: 

If you want to learn quick pro tips about Snagit, then this webinar is a must-attend. Daniel Foster’s webinar “The Value of Visual Content and a Simplified User Interface” was very insightful and informative. I have created some cool videos using Snagit, and if you want to know how, do not miss this event. -Zohra Mutabanna VP, North Texas Lone Star Chapter

Debra D Johnson, STC Florida Chapter President

A Letter From The President

Debra Johnson, STC Florida Chapter President

Technical Communicators:

With the chapter year 2020-2021 in full swing, I want to take the opportunity to thank you, STC Florida Members, TechComm students, and friends, for your continued commitment to our industry and our chapter. With my illness behind me, I am looking forward to the future. It has been a long year but with a great outcome. In addition, we’ve all been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The health and safety of STC Florida Chapter members, students, and guests is our top priority, so we want to make sure we do our part to help prevent the spread of this disease. As a chapter, we have had to evolve more in the virtual realm with the hope that our educational programs and networking opportunities have improved your life somehow.

We hope that our networking opportunities, our spirited discussions, educational programs, and our presenters with their knowledge and friendliness have impressed you.

We hope that you’ve take advantage of our Leadership Retreats, our Educational and Mentoring programs, our Networking sessions, and webinars. If not, we hope you’ll join us soon. We look forward to hearing from you.

Looking forward to a great year.

Sincerely,

Debra Johnson, STC Florida Chapter

You Oughta Be In Pictures! (Hint – Get Active!)

by W.C. Wiese

Just like Bethany Aguad, John Clement, W.C. Wiese, Debra Johnson, James Yunik, Nick Ducharme, Alex Garcia, and Julia Southwick, you can stand out as a committed technical communicator with a snazzy Florida Chapter Active Member shirt.

For 20 years, the Florida Chapter has recognized and rewarded the members who are essential to our chapter’s success with unique active member shirts. Our distinctive leadership shirts aren’t sold, only earned. They set our membership apart at meetings, STC conferences, and at work. In fact, after years of envy, several other chapters have contacted us and started their own active membership programs.

These shirts let members celebrate chapter pride whenever they wear them. It sends a positive message to employers, clients, family, and co-workers:  I am committed to technical communication and self-development. That’s why I’m a member of STC!

Now that our chapter meetings are regularly networked statewide, we make sure that virtual attendees aren’t overlooked – just ask our members in Georgia and California. As the table shows, members earn points for every monthly meeting attended, whenever they put on a program, attend an Administrative Council meeting, or serve as a judge or mentor. Another great way to earn points is by helping Communications Chair Julia Southwick with articles, photography, and production.

Based on past campaigns, the most active 15 percent of our membership ordinarily receive shirts. Will we see you at our next meeting?

In a land without Covid 19, Nick Ducharme receives his shirt from energetic Membership Chairman David Coverston.

And, By the Way…

It’s not too late if you want to send a selfie with your 2020 Active Member shirt.

Send it to gt6pilot@aol.com to boost your career when our annual celebratory LinkedIn article gets posted.

FTC October Meeting Recording and Minutes

Author: John Clement

Watch the recording of FTC’s Mentoring Program Interest Meeting from Oct 9.

Last Friday, FTC covered the ins and outs of the Mentoring Program and what it means to be an STC Student Member at its Mentoring Program Interest Meeting. Past mentees Amy Truong, Winfield Pearson, and Alexandra Engrand were our featured speakers, giving testimonials on their experiences in the program and as members of FTC and STC. Bethany Aguad also joined to represent STC with a presentation going more in depth on STC and mentoring.

Read the meeting minutes below to review the topics we covered and the resources we provided at the meeting.

Mentoring Program Applications Open Now

Author: John Clement

The Florida Chapter of the Society for Technical Communication (STC), in conjunction with the Future Technical Communicators (FTC) at UCF, is proud to announce its mentoring program, pairing veterans from the front lines of the industry with talented technical communication students and new technical communicators. The goal: to bridge the gap between industry and academe.

Applications are open until Friday, October 23.

Apply now: https://stc-orlando.org/announcements/students-apply-for-the-2020-2021-stc-florida-mentoring-program/

Once the program coordinators review your application, they will create an optimal mentor-mentee pair for you based on goals, skills, and learning styles. After that, there will be a kickoff meeting where mentees will get to meet their mentors for the first time.

STC Student Membership is required to be in the mentoring program. Membership purchased now costs $75 and lasts until the end of the next calendar year (12/31/2021). On top of becoming eligible for the Mentoring Program, student members gain free attendance to the STC Florida Chapter’s monthly meetings, networking opportunities, and more. You do not need to be a member at the time of submitting the application, but you do by the time the program begins.

For any questions, email program coordinators Bethany Aguad and John Clement at mentorship@stc-orlando.org.

If You Missed the Last Meeting – August 2020

On Thursday, August 20th, the Florida chapter of STC convened through Zoom for our monthly meeting. John Paz, a technical communication alumnus of UCF, former FTC leader, and STC member led a talk on Diversity in Tech Comm. If you would like to watch the recording, it is available for free on the STC Florida Meeting Videos page through our YouTube page.

John Paz is a senior content designer, UX writer, and technical writer with thirteen years of professional writing and editing experience. With a career taking him from Lockheed Martin in Orlando to Atlassian across the world in Australia and then the San Francisco Bay area, John is on a mission to help the technical communication industry become more diverse.

In this facilitated discussion, John shared his personal experience as a person of color in an industry historically lacking representation. Throughout his retelling, John wove in examples of how he sees technology as a tool to empower marginalized people. He emphasized that people of color don’t just need to have a seat at the table- they need to have their voices be heard, too. 

John also shared stories of his family’s experience as expats abroad in Australia, and how they adapted to the differences in culture. He also highlighted how living in the Bay area gave him first-hand experience of the socioeconomic divides in big tech. In the question and answer session of the meeting, attendees shared their own exposure to corporate diversity and inclusion, both positive and negative. 

John Paz will be speaking at the upcoming Button Conference on October 23rd. There’s still time to register to enjoy his presentation, The “pipeline problem” is about belonging.

Join Us October 22 for Podcasting: Tech Comm for the Digital Age

In the sixteen years since Apple first started offering free podcasts on iTunes, the medium has become a mainstream staple. Over 90 million people in the U.S. have listened to a podcast in the last month. With the technology readily available, podcasting has a low barrier to entry for people looking to share content in audio form.

Bethany Aguad and Nick Ducharme have a Dungeons and Dragons podcast that they have been producing with friends for the past four years. In this presentation, they are going to walk through what they have learned about building a podcast from the ground up.

As technical communicators, we rarely consider how to share information effectively through audio, and podcasting presents a perfect opportunity for our profession. Join us if you have never listened to a podcast before or if you are thinking about how you can translate the opportunities podcasting provides as a technical communicator.

We’d love you to join us on Zoom on Thursday, October 22, at 6:30 P.M. for networking and at 7:00 P.M. to learn about what it takes to run a podcast. RSVP now and submit your questions!

The presentation will be followed by a Q&A.

Event Timing: Oct 22, 2020 06:30-08:30 PM

Location: Online through Zoom

To receive the Zoom details for this meeting, please RSVP and send your meeting payment through PayPal on our Meetings Payments page.

We will be charging the following rates for this meeting:

  • Free for STC Student Members
  • $6 for STC Florida Chapter Members
  • $12 for all other attendees

STC recognition for members

by Lori Meyer 

At  this time of year, STC and its communities offer many opportunities to recognize the achievements and volunteer service of members. STC’s “recognition season,” covers most of October and early November. Here’s where you can find out more! 

Distinguished Chapter Service Award

During this time period, chapters can submit nominees for Distinguished Chapter Service Award. Any chapter member in good standing who has a strong record of contributions to the chapter can be nominated. That includes AdCo members, except for the current chapter president or anyone currently serving on the STC Board of Directors. 

The current chapter president typically submits the nomination based on input from chapter leaders or members. The nominee is not informed that they have been submitted for this recognition. 

More information:

Associate Fellow 

Senior members of STC who have an exemplary record of contributions to one or more communities, STC, and the profession can apply for the Associate Fellow honor. These applications are typically due the first of November or shortly thereafter. Applicants can self-nominate, or be nominated by an STC member in good standing from any STC community. Applicants must be STC members in good standing, and have at least 10 continuous years of STC membership, and 15 years of experience in the profession. 

More information:

Fellow 

Those who have been Associate Fellows for three years can apply for the rank of Fellow. All applications are self-nominations. Applicants must have been Associate Fellows for three years as of the date they applied for Associate Fellow. For the class of 2021, this would mean that you need to have applied for Associate Fellow in October or November of 2017. The applicant must show increasing contributions to STC and the profession since becoming an Associate Fellow. 

More information:

Academic honors for students 

Students can be nominated for membership in two academic honor societies: 

  • Membership in Sigma Tau Chi is given to students enrolled in a program in technical communication, who have a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or above, are exemplary in participation in STC, and demonstrate a potential for significant contribution to the profession.
  • Membership in Alpha Sigma is given to students enrolled in a program in technical communication who have a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or above, demonstrate active participation in STC, and have the potential to contribute to the profession.

Membership is awarded only once and honorees retain the membership only as long as they are members in good standing of the Society

More information: