From The Editor’s Desk

Hello everyone! Another month, another issue!

I want to share with you the upcoming “Live Web Seminars” available through October and into the beginning of November.

Seminar Pricing

Benefits: No travel time; Pay per site and not per person; Train without leaving the office

Cost: Members $59 each; Not Yet Members $149 each; Student Member $29 each. Note: Cost is transferable but is not refundable. Registration closes the day prior to each webinar. Please add regina.tatum@stc.org to your address book to ensure receipt of registration emails.

BUILDING EFFECTIVE IA TEAMS IN RESOURCE-CHALLENGED TIMES

Alyson Riley

Thursday, 17 October | 4:00–5:00 PM EDT (GMT-4)

How do you build a world-class team of information architects? How do you advance your content strategy without the formal mission or funding? You can do great things with your information strategy through smart stakeholder management, savvy metrics, and a collaborative, community-based approach. Join Alyson Riley in this session as she explores techniques to break down organizational barriers, lead with a common vision and set of goals, navigate tricky political waters, drive change with metrics, and grow IA skills.

CONTRACT WORK: MINDSET, MARKET, & MONEY

Bonnie J. Davis

Tuesday, 22 October | 10:00–11:00 AM EDT (GMT-4)
Rescheduled from 6 August

The market is good. The money is good. Are you good for contract work? If you value benefits such as autonomy, flexibility, and entrepreneurial expression, contract work may be just what you need. This webinar gives you the lowdown on contract work from an award-winning technical communicator, Bonnie Davis, who has worked as a contractor for more than 20 years. Bonnie will discuss core considerations for contract work—the contractor’s mindset, the market for the services offered, and the money that contractors can earn.

PLANNING AND CREATING ENGAGING INFOGRAPHICS

Michael Opsteegh

Thursday, 24 October | 4:00–5:00 PM EDT (GMT-4)

Infographics are a powerful way of communicating large amounts of disparate data to inform or persuade your audience in a manner that is often more engaging than text alone. This presentation covers the different methods of data visualization, steps for planning and wireframing, tools that can be used, and ethical considerations.

CATALYSTS: CHANGING THE WORLD BY DOING OUR JOBS

Kit Brown-Hoekstra

Tuesday, 29 October | 11:00 AM–Noon EDT (GMT-4)
Free to STC members!

As technical communicators, we touch every product, process, and service on this planet (and off of it). Without us, governments would fall, inventors would have a hard time getting their products to users, and patients would die. In short, no product, process, or service would function very well. Yet, because our work is part of the infrastructure, we often don’t hear about how we’re doing until something goes wrong. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines a catalyst as “an agent that provokes or speeds significant change or action.” During this talk, we will look at different kinds of change and how we, as technical communicators, can influence and change processes to make our world a better place.

SERVICE-ORIENTED MANAGEMENT: FACILITATING A FLOW-BASED WORK ENVIRONMENT

Judith L. Glick-Smith

Wednesday, 30 October | 1:00–2:00 PM EDT (GMT-4)

Managers who take a service-oriented approach to leadership proactively coach, encourage, and create targeted opportunities for the people who work for them. When people are able to work in an environment where they are in a flow state, they are happier, more productive, and tend to make better decisions. In this presentation, Judith Glick-Smith uses research-based concepts to explore how managers can facilitate environments where employees do their best work, enabling the organization as a whole to operate with high reliability.

IT CAME FROM THE INTERNET: SOCIAL MEDIA MONITORING FOR DOCUMENTATION

Rhyne Armstrong

Thursday, 31 October | 4:00–5:00 PM EDT (GMT-4)

In a first-ever horror-movie-themed webinar, Rhyne Armstrong will discuss how your documentation team can monitor social media and social networking sites to get feedback that you can use. You will also learn how to put on the creepy mask of “The Marketer” and interact with customers out there in the frightening world of the Internet. Not horrifying enough? We’ll even talk about how you can put those monsters to work for you to help you improve your products, your department’s awareness, and your value to your customers and to your organization.

SEVEN CAREER LESSONS I LEARNED FROM SELLING GINSU KNIVES

Jack Molisani

Wednesday, 6 November | 1:00–2:00 PM EST (GMT-5)

The presenter for this webinar was laid off in the mid-1990s like half of California, and he couldn’t find another position as a sales engineer (the job he was doing at the time). A friend offered him a summer job selling Ginsu knives, which he gladly took just to be working. After a crash course on how to demo and sell the knives, he hit the road. At the end of the summer he landed a gig as contract technical writer—a job he found he both liked and at which he excelled. Fifteen years later, he now has his own technical writing and staffing company. But he still can never forget seven life-changing career lessons he learned from that summer selling Ginsu knives. Want a different job, more money, a better standard of living? Don’t miss this session!

INTERVIEWING SMES: COVERING THE BASES AND HITTING HOMERS

Jennifer Anthony, Carrie Chambers, Frances Gambino, and Barbara Giammona

Thursday, 7 November | 4:00–5:00 PM EST (GMT-5)

Truth or urban legend: Will brownies guarantee a Subject Matter Expert’s time? When you do secure a meeting, how can you make the best use of that time? Here are some SME-handling tips from a seasoned, multi-industry, panel of experts to help you cover the bases and hit home runs in your interactions with SMEs.

There are so many great topics that will be covered, so please take advantage of these seminars.  There are certainly a lot for you to choose from or you could attend them all!  :o)

R.D. Sharninghouse
Editor, Memo 2 Members Newsletter
ralph2010@knights.ucf.edu

President’s Corner

Debra JohnsonThe President’s Corner
By Debra Johnson
President
Orlando Central Florida Chapter STC
president@stc-orlando.org

Techniques, methodologies, processes, and standards… or “TMPS” for short… are important to us as Technical Communicators and especially me right now as I am composing them at work as a part of establishing our TechComm discipline.  Putting them together while actually performing daily work activities is a challenge.  Since it is not possible for TMPS to apply to every possible scenario, it is important to have this information and have it be understood as guidelines for working practioners.

For my situation, TMPS are organized into different phases as they relate to our TC processes.  Within each phase, contains a set of activities that should be completed by the Technical Communicator in the normal course of their job activities.

Associated to these activities are guidelines and/or required steps, tools and best practices to accomplish the activities and required deliverables, if applicable.

My reason for talking about this is highlight the role International STC, the STC Orlando Central FL Chapter and other communities and people I have met through STC play a huge part in constructing our TMPS.  The years of experience in my chapter alone numbers in the centuries… I have been able to tap into that knowledge and experience.
It’s my “why”…why I am an active member, mentor, and volunteer for our chapter.

No one has all the answers… being able to tap into the expansive pool of knowledge is priceless.  Take notice students and non-members.  If you want a long fulfilling career… join us…volunteer…mentor.  What you can gain as well as give to others is immeasurable.

 

So mark your calendars…the holidays are coming… we hope to see you at our annual Give Thanks!  Dinner and Holiday Reunion!  A fun relaxed way to network!!!!

We have a LOT to do and we need you!  We need your input on making The Orlando Central FL chapter an even better community than it has been!

 

See ya at the next meeting!

 

Debra

 

 

A View From Number Two

Sarah Baca

By Sarah Baca
Vice President
Orlando Central Florida Chapter STC
Vicepresident@stc-Orlando.org

 

 

 

We have a special guest speaker this month. All the way from Texas, Paul Mueller, Director at User Aid, is talking to us about Improving Team Dynamics for a More Effective Team. We all work with teams over our careers, so I am sure this topic can benefit everyone.

Here is the abstract that Paul provided:

This presentation includes a discussion of keys to leadership and explores team dynamics through ideas raised in The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni.  We will also discuss ways to improve team performance by creating a positive environment for teamwork.  The book outlines five dysfunctions that lead to issues:

  • Absence of Trust (invulnerability)
  • Fear of Conflict (artificial harmony)
  • Lack of Commitment (ambiguity)
  • Avoidance of Accountability (low standards)
  • Inattention to Results (status and ego)

We will explore each of these areas, identify how each issue builds on the others, and discuss ways to improve team dynamics.  During this presentation, we will:

  • Discuss methods for building trust among team members.
  • Learn effective practices from the presenter and attendees.
  • Talk about healthy ways to encourage healthy conflict.

At the end of this presentation, you should be able to identify dysfunction in your team, build trust among team members using some of the methods discussed, and engender a work environment of healthy, unfiltered, open and honest communication.

We hope you can join us for another exciting meeting!

You can RSVP at the following link:

https://www.eventbrite.com/event/8525639417

If You Missed The Last Meeting…

Mary Burns

By Mary Burns
Secretary
Orlando Central Florida Chapter STC
secretary@stc-Orlando.org

If you missed the last meeting…

At September’s meeting, members enjoyed an awesome introduction to technical communication in an Agile environment.  “Bending without Breaking: Info Doc Flexibility with Agile” was virtually presented by Alyssa Fox, Secretary of STC and Director of Information Development at NetIQ.

Agile is a methodology that favors an incremental, evolutionary approach to software development and involves everyone who touches the software, from developers to product owners to doc writers, in the process. Where the traditional “waterfall” method involves separate phases for design, coding, testing, and documentation, Agile includes a whole-team, user-oriented focus on each piece of new development, with the flexibility to change requirements.

Done right, Agile eliminates what Alyssa calls “done” versus “done-done”—“software coded” versus “software coded, QA’d, and documented.”

The colorful and kinesthetic Agile vocabulary added a lighthearted note to the presentation, along with inspiration to think about applying Agile principles, if not the full methodology, in our own projects:

  • Scrum master—Not an action hero, but the facilitator and cheerleader of a “scrum” team consisting of a development team (including tech comm) and product owner (customer advocate).  Team members perform specialized tasks and help others with tasks everyone can do, such as automated testing.
  • Sprint—Development period, for example a month, during which the scrum team goes all-out to produce shippable software. Preceded by sprint planning and reviewed in a sprint retrospective, the sprint enables the team to improve their performance over time, reducing end-of-sprint crunches and technical debt (rollover from past sprints).
  • User story—Narrative that casts the user as the hero. What are users trying to do in Feature Land? What is functionally broken?  How will they know it is fixed? The hardest part of planning in Agile, the user story forces the team to consider the user’s perspective. User stories are the basis of development during a sprint.
  • Backlog—Collection of user stories that mature before entering a sprint. Rather than growing, user stories become smaller, starting out as “epics” that may divide into “themes,” which then yield groups of individual user stories. User stories remain in the backlog until the entire team votes them into a sprint, a process dubbed “planning poker.” Voting is based on estimated effort and stimulates discussion, “same-page-ness,” and clearer requirements.

 

 

Active Membership

W. C. Wiese

W.C. Wiese
Active Member Motivator
Orlando Chapter STC

Get Active, Get Recognized, Sharpen Your Wardrobe!

By W.C. Wiese

 

STC Banquet 049

Want to stand out in your profession? Want to show the boss you’re serious about your job? This’ll do it.

STC Banquet 051

They come in yellow, black, and powder blue. They come in forest green and artillery red. And there are maybe 250 in the whole wide world. What are they? Highly sought after Active Member shirts earned by Orlando Central Florida Chapter members!

 

At our end-of-the-chapter-year awards dinner in June, Membership Chairman David Coverston recognized 12 Active Members at the year-end banquet. Each received a black-trimmed yellow polo shirt that helps us stand out in crowds.

 

Since 2001, the Orlando Central Florida Chapter has recognized members who are consistent in their attendance and help make the chapter a success. These distinctive leadership shirts cannot be bought, only earned. They set our membership apart at STC conferences and in the workplace. (After years of envy, several other chapters have copied us and begun their own active membership programs in the past 5 years.)

 

As the table shows, members earn points every month they attend a meeting, put on a program, attend an Administrative Council meeting, or serve as a judge or mentor.

 

Activity

Point Value

Attend Chapter Meeting

1

Chairman/Officer

0.5/month for office

0.5 for each AdCo

Present a Program

2

Visit a Class or Another Chapter

1

Serve as a Mentor/Month

1

Serve as a Judge/Month

1

Sponsor a New Member

2

Write Articles for the Newsletter

0.5

 

You’ll need to earn 14 points to receive a 2014 Active Member shirt. But it will be worth it!

 

The shirts let our members celebrate chapter pride in the workplace whenever they choose to wear them. They send a positive message to employers, clients, and co-workers: I am committed to my profession and committed to self-development. I am a member of STC!

 

Will you be an Active Member? We’ll report in upcoming issues of Memo to Members! And watch for opportunities for mentorship, to share in committee work, or to judge chapter contests.