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:


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: 

Survivor Tools for the Digital Age on September 24

Survivor Tools for the Digital Age

Tool Tips: Mini Presentations

In our digital age, there are always new tools to learn. We’d love for you to join us on Thursday, September 24, 6:30 P.M. for networking and at 7:00 P.M. to hear from our chapter members on the tools they use and their tips and tricks for making the most out of them. RSVP now!

Each presenter will have a mini presentation followed by Q&A. 

Madcap Flare from Bethany Aguad

MadCap Flare is a help authoring tool designed for advanced topic-based authoring, single-source publishing and content management.

Oxygen XML Editor from David Coverston

Oxygen XML Editor provides a comprehensive suite of XML authoring and development tools for creating, editing, and publishing XML documents.

Slack from Alex Garcia

Slack is a communication platform that provides chat rooms organized by topic, private groups, and direct messaging. 

Discord from John Clement

Discord is freeware instant messaging and VoIP application and digital distribution platform designed for creating communities with text, image, video and audio communication between users.

Event Details

Event Timing: September 24, 6:30 P.M. to 8:30 P.M.

Location: Online through Google Meet

To RSVP for this meeting, please send your meeting payment through PayPal on our Meetings Payments page. We will be charging the following rates for this meeting:

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

Diversity in Tech Comm with John Paz

Are you interested in learning about diversity in the industry? We’d love you to join us at 6:30 P.M. for networking and at 7:00 P.M. to discuss Diversity in Technical Communication with John Paz, an alumnus of UCF. This event is open to any who are looking to help the technical communication industry become more diverse. RSVP now!


Event Timing: August 20, 6:30 P.M. to 8:30 P.M.

Location: Online through Google Meet


To RSVP for this meeting, please send your meeting payment through PayPal on our Meetings Payments page. We will be charging the following rates for this meeting:

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


About John Paz

John is a senior content designer, UX writer, and technical writer with 13 years of professional writing/editing experience and a passion for simplifying the complex. He’s a UX design professional who specializes in highly technical content for enterprise customers and developers.

John is also passionate about increasing the diversity of people working in tech. He gives talks and presentations about the value of using tech to lift people out of generational poverty and as a tool to empower anyone with a computer and Wi-Fi connection.

The emphasis on the words within applications is a matter of inclusiveness, and making tech approachable for all is a life mission of John’s. He thinks of being a content designer as a way to help bring about change and looks for more aspiring writers to mentor along the journey.

From the Editor’s Desk

Meet the Editor

Julia Southwick, Newsletter Editor

Julia Southwick, Newsletter Editor

Hi everyone!

I’m Julia Southwick: your new editor! I introduced myself in my first article about how to use some of the Google suite products, but I’ll tell you a bit about myself here too. My family has a lot of engineers and engineering types in it (my grandfather, my dad, my brothers, my mom), so technical communication comes as naturally to me as breathing. I have had two jobs in the Tech Comm space so far: one at Lockheed Martin and one at Siemens.

While at Lockheed Martin, I used my writing, editing, and design skills to update company documentation including onboarding, policies, and organizational materials. At Siemens,  I edited and formatted power generator outage reports to meet internal writing standards for publication.

I’m currently looking for a new job and if you know of any opportunities opening up, please let me know.

If you need to contact me for any reason, feel free to reach out to me at juliasouthwick96@gmail.com.

Join the STC Florida Leadership Retreat

Have you been looking for an opportunity to develop your leadership skills and get more involved with the STC Florida chapter? We want to invite you to our annual Leadership Retreat, where the STC Florida Chapter plans for the upcoming chapter year. 

This event is free for STC Florida members and volunteers who are looking to take an active role in the chapter for the coming year.


Event Timing: July 25, 10:00am-2:00pm

Location: Online through Zoom

The STC Florida Chapter’s annual summer Leadership Retreat provides a “post-mortem” on the previous year’s activities and serves as a kick-off meeting for the upcoming chapter year. At the annual summer Leadership Retreat, the STC Florida Chapter sets its strategic goals and objectives for the upcoming chapter year and identifies the projects and activities we must execute to achieve those goals.

We are eager to engage with student members, recent graduates, and veteran chapter members alike. The summer Leadership Retreat serves as a time to review our previous year’s activities to see what we can improve. We hope this event will be fun, interactive, and productive for everyone who attends. In addition to our planned chapter business, we have time for discussion, brainstorming, and leadership development activity.

At this free event, we welcome anyone who is looking to take an active role in the chapter for the coming year and develop leadership skills!

Dungeons and Dragons and Technical Communication


The skills Technical Communicators use in their profession make them excellent Dungeons and Dragons players, as well as game runners (a.k.a “Dungeon Masters”). From writing to collaboration, the core skills that lead to success on the job can be developed and honed in this fun, fantasy setting. While fighting evil monsters as an Elven fighter might not seem to relate to work in Information Technology, both challenges require thoughtful communication, working with a team, doing research, and applying critical thinking skills.

What is Dungeons and Dragons (D&D)?

Dungeons and Dragons is a fantasy role-playing game that got its start in 1974 and is often abbreviated to DnD or D&D — we will be using D&D here. Each player creates a character that they will play as during the game. The players then act out scenarios as their character, like actors in a play. However, unlike in a play, there is no script or stage. The script is improvised, and the acting takes place in the imagination. Actions are spoken such as: “I look around the cave, searching for the monster said to live there.”

The straightforward way to explain D&D is by saying it’s play-pretend for all ages. Games can focus on exploring a fantasy world, combat in a fantasy world, the interactions between characters, or some combination of the three. If you want to learn more, here’s a 5-minute video explanation from The Dungeoncast on YouTube.

Role of the Dungeon Master

The world of the game is created and run by the Dungeon Master (DM) or Gamemaster (GM). While each player is responsible for playing a single character in the game, the DM runs the entire game world, everything from describing scenery to playing the Non-Playable Characters (NPCs) that their characters meet.

Playing as Character

Each player character has a character sheet that defines the skills and abilities that player has developed. This includes skills like stealth (how good is your character at being sneaky?) or perception (how observant is your character?) and abilities like the power to fly or casting magical spells. Following the rules of the game, each player gets to define all their abilities and write a story for who their character is.

Below is my character sheet from the first game I played as Linea Faenane, the High Elf Wizard, and her “familiar” (a magical animal companion), Lunara the cat.

Linea Faenane, the High Elf Wizard

Linea Faenane, the High Elf Wizard

Lunara (cat familiar)

Rolling Dice

Developing the narrative is a collaborative experience between all participants, with dice facilitating the gameplay. When a player wants to take an action in the game that requires a challenge, they will roll a die to determine the outcome. For most rolls, they roll a twenty-sided die called a “d20”. If the die lands on a 20, the action is always successful; if the die lands on a 1, the action always fails. There is also a myriad of results in-between.

Based on a combination of the number on the die, the character’s skills, and the difficulty of the action, the DM will describe the outcome.

To start learning to play the game, the best thing you can do is to watch others play (in person or online), to or jump in and start playing.

What is a first game like?

In my first session, we had mostly new players with some more experienced players, so we started by introducing ourselves. We then went over how to use Roll20.net, which makes it possible to play D&D online. Our next step was to create our characters and their backstories. Once our characters were created, we introduced our characters to the other players and told their backstories. The final two steps were to learn the scenario we would be playing and then to play it (while taking any necessary snack or bathroom breaks).

How does this relate to Tech Comm?

Technical communicators possess skills that apply to playing and running a game of Dungeons and Dragons. For instance, running an entire D&D adventure across multiple sessions requires project management skills. While the game itself is played for fun, a good DM must manage scheduling and storylines, tracking the players’ progress through the story and noting key milestones.

The table below illustrates the correlation I identified between skills many technical communicators use on the job and the tasks in D&D that applies those skills.

Tech Comm Skill D&D Application
Clear writing, tone Backstory, DM description
SME interviews NPC conversations and roleplaying
Project management Manage long-term campaigns
Research and exploration Imaginative storytelling and roleplaying
Collaboration Teamwork with fellow players
Critical thinking Creative problem-solving
Graphic design Maps, illustrations
Adept with technology Playing online through systems like Roll20


Most veteran DMs spend time preparing before a session with their players. They create descriptions for the world the players will explore. Drafting these descriptions is an exercise in creativity, but also in conservation of detail.

In our game, Bethany as the DM provided the scenario. Our characters were a group of acolytes who had left our temple to go work for the Harpers, an organization that seeks to do good while working in the shadows of the port city of Waterdeep. Our Harper contact, Renaer, would assign us jobs, and in exchange for efficient, speedy work, our characters would receive handsome compensation.

At the start of the adventure, he provided the details on our latest job:

Uza Solizeph is an old woman who sells books out of her small shop in the Trades Ward of the vast city of Waterdeep. She claims to have trapped a monster in her shop and fears for the welfare of her books and her cat. The City Watch isn’t likely to lend a hand, given Uza’s propensity for tall tales, but the Harpers owe her a favor. You’ll find her sobbing at the tavern on the corner of Sort Street and Salabar Street. Make haste!

Like technical writing, you give your players the information they need to complete their task, without overloading them with unnecessary or distracting details.

SME Interviews

In D&D, you often engage with characters who provide crucial information to aid your player characters on their quest.

We received our assignment and went to the tavern to interview Uza. We listened carefully to her story and asked questions like: “Did you see the monster clearly?” “Can you describe it?” “What does your cat look like, and what’s your cat’s name?” “Can you describe the interior of your shop for us, please?” These questions were designed to help us gain an understanding of what we were up against.

While we were talking, a bard recognized a member of our group as the person who previously swindled them and tried to pick a fight. Our bard convinced them to back down using superior barding skills, and the other bard moved on. Once we established all necessary details, we asked Uza to take us to her store and to wait outside it for us while we took care of the monster and found her cat.

Gathering information on the job often presents challenges for technical communicators. While a SME can become your greatest ally in learning the product you need to document, determining what questions to ask can be tricky.

Critical Thinking

Dungeons and dragons gameplay provides a series of challenges for the players to overcome. While some players may expect to resolve conflicts with combat, many obstacles can be resolved with creative problem-solving.

We went into her shop. Linea asked Lunara telepathically to look for Uza’s cat and let her know if she finds the cat. The group started looking for the cat and the monster. While exploring the shelves looking for clues, the group noticed some scorch marks and identified some books about monsters. The monster found us, so we rolled for initiative (turn order) and started fighting the monster.

Uza’s Book Shop

During the fight, Lunara concentrated on staying out of the fight and kept searching for Uza’s cat. Lunara found Uza’s cat towards the end of the fight and worked on calming her. We defeated the monster and Linea used a spell to identify how the monster arrived in the shop — it was through an enchanted book about the monster. There were two similar books that could summon other monsters. One of us called Uza in, and Linea explained her findings and asked if they could take the other two books to turn in to the Harpers. Uza agreed and thanked the group for their help.


By nature, all tabletop roleplaying is collaborative. The game and story evolve through the input of the DM and the players, with dice rolls determining how things play out. As a party, the players each contribute their ideas to influence the direction for every scene.

At the end of the session, we talked about how we thought the session went, alternative paths, how we liked D&D, if we would like to continue playing D&D, and if we would like to continue the story of these characters.

As technical communicators, collaboration drives our work. Even solo writers must learn to work with subject matters experts and consider the response of stakeholders in developing documentation.

Why Should You Play Dungeons and Dragons?

As technical communicators, our skills make us the ideal party members, both in Dungeons and Dragons and on the job. We shine in a collaborative environment where our work can enhance the effectiveness of those around us. With that in mind, why should you give a tabletop game like Dungeons and Dragons a try?

First off, it’s enjoyable! Gathering together with friends to develop a compelling narrative gives you a chance to stretch your creative muscles. Whether you roll dice around a physical table or play online through Roll20, gathering together and tackling challenges with friends provides a chance to relax and have fun.

Second, you can practice many technical communication skills in the creative safe space of a tabletop role-playing campaign. While the decisions in the game do not have real world consequences, the DM and the narrative still define the stakes. Telling a story in a game provides you a chance to hone your skills, such as telling stories through your documentation to your users.

Why not give it a try?

Further Reading

Aspects of Technical Communication

My name is Mia Stephens, and I am a second-year student at the University of Central Florida. I am currently a member of both the Society for Technical Communication and the Future Technical Communicators at UCF.  Over the past semester with the guidance of my mentor, Rachael Swertfeger, I have worked on curating a website that displays the aspects of Technical Communication that individuals interested in the industry should know as part of my mentoring project for the STC.

For this project, I developed a survey that asked industry professionals about their experiences in the field, as well as what advice they would give to those that are either currently studying Technical Communication or are interested in the field. If you are interested in viewing the website, it can be found at https://techcom.crd.co/ (or https://itechcom.crd.co/ for mobile users).