From The Editor’s Desk

Hello everyone!

We have a great issue this month.  There are some great articles and also a new section that I’m working on where we will acknowledge member achievements as well as any special news concerning members.  If you have any member news that you would like to share with us please be sure to contact me and I will put it in our new section “Member News.”  Also, if you have any suggestions for a better title please let me know.

As I did in the last newsletter, I want to share with you the upcoming “Live Web Seminars” available through the month of April and beginning of June.

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.

COLLABORATIVE SINGLE-SOURCE DEVELOPMENT OF DOCUMENTATION AND TRAINING

R. N. Homer Christensen

Tuesday, 22 April | 10:00–11:00 AM EDT (GMT-4)

This webinar provides valuable tips and tricks for establishing a collaborative workflow as you create training and documentation from a single set of source files. This workflow not only saves time and effort, it results in a stronger, more resilient team, a better product, and a more enjoyable process.

THAT’S A GOOD QUESTION!

Elizabeth (Bette) Frick

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

A major factor in a technical communication professional’s success is asking questions—the right questions—of SMEs, managers, clients, users, and yourself. If you’ve ever suffered expensive consequences because you didn’t ask the right question or you framed your question poorly, you’ll benefit from this lively and interactive session on learning to ask the right questions.

GROW YOUR PROFESSIONAL ROLE AND INCREASE YOUR HAPPINESS WITH ACTS OF SERVICE

Barrie Byron

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

“Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” is the best-remembered phrase in the United States Declaration of Independence. How we earn our living and how we grow through acts of service have a significant impact on our happiness. The gift of service and the acts of servant leadership benefit your professional life, improve your personal life, and positively impact your overall well-being. Positive outcomes and professional growth through volunteering require a strategy, a plan, and skills to identify the specific criteria for a rewarding volunteer opportunity. What is your goal for your professional well-being? What are your objectives for your life policy? Learn the art of saying no to make room for activities that are in alignment with your personal and professional goals. Find out how to overcome the YOYO (you’re on your own) habit and build WIIT (we’re in it together) skills.

CONTENT STRATEGY FOR AUGMENTED REALITY AND WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY

Marta Rauch

Wednesday, 11 June | 1:00–2:00 PM EDT (GMT-4)

This webinar will show you how augmented reality and wearable technology like Google Glass affect technical communicators. Attendees will understand the importance of augmented reality and wearable technology, look at best practices for content strategy, learn how to provide effective user assistance, and position themselves for new opportunities in augmented reality and wearable technology.

These webinars are very helpful as well as convenient.  Please take advantage of these informative presentations.

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

The President’s Corner

Debra JohnsonThe President’s Corner

By Debra Johnson, President
Orlando Central Florida STC Chapter
president@stc-orlando.org

 Did you know April is….???2014_4_Image for President's Corner

  • National Garden Month
  • National Poetry Month
  • National Kite Month
  • Jazz Appreciation Month

 

More importantly, April is the month the STC Orlando Central Florida Chapter distributes its ballot for Chapter elections to be held in May 2014 for officer positions and two director-at-large positions. The Nominating Committee has announced the following slate of officers for the 2014-2015 chapter year.
They are:

President: Debra Johnson           

Vice President: Mary Burns

Secretary: RD Sharninghouse

Treasurer: Alex Garcia

Director-at-large: Mark Wray

• Director-at-large: David Coverston


As you can see, these generous people have volunteered to keep the chapter running for another year… Hopefully, for another year of “Distinction”… and if you notice, they are running unopposed. (We need more people to volunteer to serve!)
Members, we ask you plan to attend this very important meeting and VOTE…thus supporting these unpaid servants to our community. Keeping this chapter up and running and providing services to its members requires not a whole lot of time… but defintely quality time to make sure whatever members and student members need as Technical Communicators is available to them.

Our chapter is important to Orlando Central Florida Technical Communicators as it provides support, growth opportunities, knowledge, and camaraderie.  Elected officers begin their terms at the end of June’s chapter meeting.
NOTE: Just because you are not running for office, doesn’t mean you cannot volunteer in other ways to support the chapter and those who serve.

Members, you can submit your ballots in one of three ways. You can bring the ballot to the 15th of May meeting and complete it at the meeting, or submit your completed ballot by mail. (Mail ballots must use a double envelope – seal the ballot in the inside envelope. The sealed inside envelope protects voting privacy and should display your name, address, and STC membership number.) Mailed ballots must arrive by Tuesday, 13th of May. The chapter’s mailing address is Post Office Box 540444, Orlando, FL 32854-0444.

In order to vote in the chapter election, you must:

  • Be a current member in good standing of the chapter
• Submit your ballot by 7:10pm at the May 15 chapter meeting.
    — or —
Send your vote to nominating@stc-orlando.org by May 13.

Be sure to congratulate this year’s nominees and thank them for their willingness to serve the chapter…ask them how you can help them!
Debra

A View From Number Two

Sarah Baca

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

 

 

 

We hope you can join us for this month’s Orlando CFL STC Meeting!

Topic: Collaboration Through Conflict, presented by Mark Kilby
Date: April 17, 2014, 6:30 pm networking, 7:00 pm presentation start
Location: Wyndham Vacation Ownership at 6277 Sea Harbor Dr. Orlando, Florida
Description: This talk will explore different types of conflict on teams and some ways you can prepare and navigate the conflict successfully.

A light dinner will be provided at no additional charge.
For more information and to RSVP, go to www.stcorlando.eventbrite.com.

RSVP is required!

 

*** Thank you Dan Voss for filling in at the last minute for the meeting.  Dan’s topic was “Writing Winning Proposals: Close Calls only Count in Horseshoes and Nuclear Wars.” ***

If You Missed The Last Meeting…

Mary Burns

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

 

 

 

If You Missed Last Meeting…

This month saw us celebrating the achievements of Mike Murray (named an STC Associate Fellow); Mark Wray (Distinguished Chapter Service Award); and Candace Du Lac (Distinguished Chapter Service Award for Students).

The chapter stuck to its tradition of the March employment meeting. This year’s panel speakers were three representatives from the staffing companies SkyBridge Resources and Insight Global.

Seventeen attendees had their chance to ask employment questions and offer comments. Here are a few interesting facts and tips:

  • The health care and hospitality fields are hiring more technical communicators.
  • Working successive contracts can be positive. A contract is an opportunity to interview the company. Not a good fit? You finish the contract and move on, which looks better on your resume than leaving a permanent position.
  • Use software “demos” (a free trial version of a product such as Author-it) to expand your tools experience for your resume.
  • For portfolio materials created in a proprietary environment, check whether you can use an older project, or invent your own similar project, a tactic that shows your writing ability and your willingness to go the extra mile.
  • Provide your portfolio online. It’s an advantage when staffing needs are urgent and turnaround is 24–48 hours.
  • If you’re submitted for a position by one recruiter, ensure you notify other recruiters so that your resume isn’t disqualified.
  • Yes, your resume should be tailored for different companies. Be detailed. Be chronological. Be honest. Label contract positions clearly. 2–5 pages is acceptable. Don’t forget to include your STC participation!
  • Ensure your Linked-In profile has a picture.
  • Selling point for young applicants: You’re less “expensive.” Even working at a non-TC job, you may meet people on the job or at STC who are willing to give you a chance when a writing position becomes available.

The Elephant In The Room

Mike_Murray_PicThe Elephant in the Room 

By Mike Murray

Former 3-Year President of the Orlando Central Florida Chapter of Distinction

and STC Associate Fellow

 

 

 

Being a 30-year member of the Orlando Central Florida Chapter of STC, I have grown to love the organization and hate missing meetings. Recently, however, I missed the better part of two years while I was dealing both physically and mentally with the onset of Parkinson’s disease or PD [sic].

During my first STC chapter meeting when I finally felt well enough to rejoin life, I noticed a long-time friend and colleague looking at me. Even after my eyes met his and I mouthed “What?” he continued to look and said in a low voice, “Nothing. I’m just looking.” That long, knowing, inquisitive stare, coupled with my newly developed ESPN, was what it took for me to get the message. And what exactly is the message? Simply that people cannot possibly know what to do or say when there is an “elephant in the room.”

The Birth of an Elephant

I was first diagnosed with PD in September of 2008. PD is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects your movement. It develops gradually, sometimes starting with a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand. But while a tremor may be the most well-known sign of PD, the disorder also commonly causes stiffness or slowing of movement. PD affects different people “differently.” For me, it made my legs extremely weak, affected my balance, and dramatically changed my voice.

The official diagnosis was very difficult for me to handle. This certainly wasn’t what I envisioned for retirement. I was looking forward to lots of travel, fishing, and my passion—sports announcing. But as PD would have it, I had to surrender my driver’s license. As if that wasn’t enough, I lost my announcing voice. As a fiercely independent person, I became dependent and isolated. My whole world changed overnight.

Advice for Other Elephants

Once you have a name for your illness, you should seek out a professional who specializes in it. It may take a while for your doctor to determine the mix of medications that will do you the most good. At the same time, identify a therapist. It is very important for you to talk about your malady. You have to make it real before you can accept it.

  • Practice Acceptance

Yes, acceptance is very important. What else can you do? Going the “Why me?” route simply delays your life adjustments. Yes, you can still lead an interesting, fulfilling life. As I said to my son Aaron, “I can’t believe this is happening to me.” His response was, “Well it is!” His message was clear. Quit wasting time, accept it, and move on. I sure did raise some smart sons.

  • Practice Thankfulness

Counting your blessings with a sense of pleasure and wholeness is a way to be thankful. People with a strong sense of gratitude, love and appreciation don’t necessarily have more than others; they aren’t “luckier.” They simply recognize and see more beauty in their lives. A 2003 study suggests that people who count their blessings are generally happier and healthier than people who don’t. If you ever feel as if anything in your life isn’t “enough,” try practicing an attitude of thankfulness. You might realize how good you have it after all.

How to Deal with Elephants in the Room

Treat people with disabilities as you would anyone else:

  • Welcome them if they are new in your class or workplace.
  • Never stare at them or act condescending or patronizing.
  • Don’t focus on the disability.
  • It is important that you treat them as equals, talk to them as you would to anyone else, and act as you would normally act if a new person entered into your life.

Don’t be afraid of asking what disability people are dealing with if you feel this might help you make a situation easier for them (like asking a person with a mobility restriction if he or she would prefer to take the elevator with you instead of the stairs if you see that walking poses a challenge). Chances are, people with disabilities have been asked that question a million times, and they know how to explain their disability in a few sentences. If the disability resulted from an accident or if the information is too personal, they will most likely answer that they prefer not to discuss it.

How to Deal with This Elephant

Returning to the long-time friend and colleague who was just looking at me, rather than put him on the spot, I answered him in the form of an open letter to all my dear friends in the STC chapter. Here’s what I said:

Dear Friends:

It’s time we have a heart-to-heart talk about my Parkinson’s disease (PD). At our last chapter meeting, I realized that my failure to do this a long time ago has placed you in an awkward position: how do you deal with “the elephant in the room”?

So here it is, straight from the elephant’s mouth.  :o)

It has taken me a very long time to accept Parkinson’s disease (PD), retirement, aging, leaving behind “Da Voice,” surrendering my driver’s license, etc. The way things came down on me at nearly the exact same time made things extra tough. I was unable to ease gracefully into retirement, but I am doing much better. :o)  IT IS OKAY to make kind comments, ask specific questions, etc. There is no need to avoid the subject. I no longer wish to be “the elephant in the room.”

Google will tell you everything you ever thought you wanted to know about PD. For each person, the symptoms vary; for example, I do not have the tremors (thank goodness). The symptoms I do have come and go unexpectedly and vary in intensity. Here is what you can expect:

  • Stiff muscles (rigidity) and aching muscles. Rigidity can also affect the muscles of my legs, face, neck, or other parts of the body and may cause muscles to feel tired and achy.
  • Slow, limited movement (bradykinesia), especially when I try to move from a resting position. For instance, it may be difficult to get out of a chair.
  • Weakness of face and throat muscles. Talking and swallowing may become more difficult. Speech becomes softer and monotonous. Loss of movement in the muscles in my face can cause a fixed, vacant facial expression, often called the “Parkinson’s mask.” By the way, it is perfectly okay to ask me to repeat myself.
  • Difficulty with walking and balance. Sometimes, I might take small steps and shuffle with my feet close together, bend forward slightly at the waist (stooped posture), and have trouble turning around. I’m trying to remember not to walk that way.
  • Cramps in the muscles and joints.
  • Freezing, a sudden, brief inability to move. It most often affects walking.
  • Fatigue and/or sleepiness may come on very quickly without warning.
  • When anxiety is high, I’m behind on sleep, etc., I can sometimes get a little emotional. If it happens, just keep smiling and talking. I’ll snap out of it. Emotional and physical stress tends to make the symptoms more noticeable. Sleep, complete relaxation, and intentional movement or action usually reduce or stop most of the symptoms.

To summarize, I am aware that I look weird, act weird, and talk weird. It’s like living in a building and watching it fall apart around me. Well, I’m still in here! Please know that in my brain, I am still a wild and crazy guy! It’s fine to talk to me as you always have, and don’t give a second thought to anything else.

Does that help? If not ask me anything you like. I love each and every one of you.

How to Create an Elephant

Simply ignoring people with disabilities because you think they may not want to discuss it may make them feel inadequate. They may think you don’t want to deal with them as fellow human beings or that you are trying to avoid being asked for help.

It all boils down to this:

  • If your disability makes you think of yourself as the elephant in the room, you will be that elephant.
  • If you treat someone with a disability like the elephant in the room, he or she will become that elephant.

The simple answer is to just treat everyone as a person, disabilities or abilities aside.

There are no elephants in the room; we create them.

(Author’s Note: Special thanks to Dan Voss, one of my very best friends and the best darn editor in the entire universe!)

Networking For Technical Communication Students And Practitioners

By, Jessica Lynn Campbell

Documentation Specialist at Radixx International

                Webster’s All-In-One Dictionary & Thesaurus (2013) defines networking as the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups or institutions (p. 436). The primary function of networking is to exchange information with other individuals within the same field or practice.

Networking can provide for enriching, educational experiences and opportunities to collaborate on projects and gain the knowledge and expertise from a variety of diverse disciplines. Through networking and communicating with one another, technical communicators are able to distribute information with one another, thus increasing the technical communication body of knowledge and providing the ability for individuals to apply that knowledge to her or his projects, practices, and employment. Lastly, technical communicators communicating and sharing knowledge and information with one another create both social connections with one another by possessing similar interests and fields of study, but also professional connections by offering employment opportunities and the availability of personal references. Knowing the right individuals in one’s profession becomes necessary in a highly competitive workforce, even more so with technical communication being such a niche position. Networking increasing one’s ability to become employed by reputable companies that are willing to not only financially compensate an employee for her or his expertise and skills, but also augment, develop, and advance her or his career.

Filling your monthly calendar with at least one networking event shows an individual’s motivation and passion for her or his career, and every opportunity to stand out against one’s competitors is beneficial –if not seeking a position now—but possibly in the future. Some of the candidates that I’m competing against out there are going out of their way to stand out of the crowd described Mannetter (2009) when searching for work after her position at Principal Financial Group Inc. was eliminated. Meeting individuals at networking events allows one to gain information and learn new developments in one’s field of business, not only that, but as Mannetter (2009) described, “Events have given me an opportunity to gauge my search tactics and experiences against my peers.” Making connections with employers will assist technical communicators, in the job market, obtain a position, as well as gain them access to information from colleges and competitors alike so they can stay ahead of new technologies and developments in their line of work. Unfortunately, the “who” you know is sometimes more important than “what” you know—at least when it comes to securing employment—and more importantly, good employment. This has been experienced by many well-qualified, and perhaps even over-qualified technical communicators who are seeking a position with a company or business that is willing to offer them the financial compensation that meets his or her needs, both economically, but also based on performance level. Mannetter (2009) concurred, “I know firsthand how having a solid professional network can help a candidate identify ‘unposted’ career opportunities.”

The value and profit that is gained through networking for technical communicator practitioners and future technical communicators still in the process of obtaining their education is able to occur through a variety of communicative and interactive methods. Society and group memberships, such as being a member in the Society for Technical Communication, provide for interactive experiences for social aims in order to meet others in the same field and discuss the profession and information. The feeling of belonging to a community and the unity that one feels from connecting with one another thorough social networking is one benefit of networking that many do not acknowledge. Reynard (2009) stated, “Not only are young people highly active in social networks, but older individuals are also showing a huge increase in their use of these tools,” and she continued on to explain, “The attraction of older age groups is, of course, social connection and community building among professional and casual peers and friends.” Mannetter (2009) described this when she stated, “What I don’t hear nearly as much about are the psychological benefits of participating in formal and informal networking opportunities.”

Social interaction is not the only benefit of being associated with others in a group, but organizations may also offer meetings, presentations, and seminars to its members. Members are able to attend educational events that allow them to ask questions to expert professionals and get an immediate response, as well as learn, develop, and hone skills, thus increasing their proficiencies within their discipline.

Besides face-to-face interactions and gatherings, the technical communication discipline is replete with a collection of sub-disciplines, in which practitioners collaborate and communicate in a variety of technological and digital methods and interactions. Web 2.0 tools have critically elevated the social networking activity and skills of individuals (Reynard, 2009). Technical communicators converse and exchange information with one another through collaborative and online tools such as blogs, Twitter, Linkedin, and even Facebook. Most businesses today have Facebook pages that allow them to post new information, events, as well as connect with others in the business to remain in awareness of new developments and technology. What’s more, Facebook and social networking provides companies the ability to advertise and market their products to their niche audience. Building a community that is able to collect, share, and develop a body of knowledge is beneficial to all businesses alike. Web 2.0 tools online maximizes the way information is presented and able to be processed and applied. Furthermore, individuals who contribute to the collaborative effort of knowledge sharing and building connections with one another enhance their professional life as they become known and know employers and others in the business. Knowing others in one’s professional world who can be contacted for assistance, collaboration on projects, or other information enables one to be more successful than she or he could be on her or his own. The trail of references and knowledge that follows the action of networking is evident. What’s even more, these social networks can include individuals from other countries, which provides for a broader and more expansive knowledge base from which to exchange information. Without Web 2.0 tools, one’s colleagues in China or Russia would be greatly unreachable—at least in the immediate sense—or perhaps not at all.

The pedagogy of technical communication in universities and colleges know the benefit of utilizing digital collaborative resources in their classes. Teaching students the skills of collaboration and networking through shared digital environments enables them to practice and employ these necessary skills that they will be using in the workplace. Social networking through Web 2.0 tools allows students the ability to connect and share information instantaneously, offering individual feedback and the ability to engage about projects, coursework, and create new networks of shared interests to exchange information. While in more traditional learning environments much of this must be orchestrated and planned by the instructor and organized through the grouping and pairing of students, when using a social networking tool this level of connection can happen immediately (Reynard, 2009). Students who engage in social networking, as well who attend networking events, are able to learn new skills and hone those skills already developed that are used in the professional world, thus giving them an edge over their peers in a highly competitive workforce. “As we begin to focus more on the learning process, it becomes evident that various skills are developed as a result of using specific tools or apply ideas to a specific context, Reynard (2009) stated. For example, the skills of discussion and dialog can be enhanced through in-class or online discussions groups, and collaboration can be developed through ideas sharing and concept building (Reynard, 2009). Conversing and connecting with one another through shared interest groups provides students, like practitioners, a social benefit that is invaluable for those students who may long for unity and belonging when away from home for the first time. Reynard (2009) concluded, “In general, social networking provides new ways to connect and share information and create networks of interest.”

In today’s advanced technological society, the variety of methods of interaction allows technical communicators several methods of connecting, communicating, sharing information, and the ability to refine their skills and knowledge in their discipline. Digital and online social networking through Web 2.0 tools enable communities of practice and disciplines to build a trail of knowledge and share with one another new developments. In addition, social networking allows businesses to market their product to their niche audience. Lastly, and perhaps most significantly, technical communicators advance their career when they communicate with employers and secure references and employment contacts in a highly competitive job market.

The benefit of face-to-face interactions through membership in organizations and participating in events and seminars deserves special attention. Communicating, socializing, and learning with one another in shared interests groups creates a sense of belonging to a community and unity. Getting to know others by discussing topics of interest or participating in educational opportunities opens the doors to meeting colleagues in the industry and again securing references, contacts, and  perhaps learning about employment opportunities. Students partaking in coursework that utilize social networking tools and resources, practice critical skills required in their future employment. Networking at universities and colleges allow students to build communities of shared interests and communicate instantaneously about coursework or projects. Perhaps the most important benefit of networking for students is the social aspect of connecting with others through shared interest groups. The result of social networking may just make the difference between a student spending a Saturday in their dormitory alone, or going out with friend she or he met through a collaborative course project. Networking provides numerous benefits to technical communicators, which should compel any determined, dedicated professional to schedule a social event, participate in a seminar, search the job market on Linkedin, or simply update her or his Facebook status.

 

 

References

Mannetter, H. (2009, August 18). The Unexpected Benefits of Networking Events. [Web log comment]. Retrieved March 14, 2014, from http://blogs.wsj.com/laidoff/2009/08/18/the-unexpected-benefits-of-networking-events/

Merriam-Webster. (Eds.). (2013). Webster’s All-In-One Dictionary & Thesaurus (2nd ed.). Springfield, MA: Federal Street Press.

Reynard, R. (2009) Beyond Social Networking: Building Toward Learning Communities. The Journal. Retrieved from http://thejournal.com/articles/2009/07/15/beyond-social-networking-building-toward-learning-communities.aspx

 

Member News

Two of our members have recently received awards for their hard work and dedication to the STC.  Mark Wray, a Director for the Orlando chapter, received the Distinguished Chapter Service Award for his exemplary service to the Society.  Candace Du Lac, who has worked diligently with the CAA awards for the Orlando chapter, received the Distinguished Service Award for Students.  Congratulations on the awards and thank you for all the time and effort you have devoted to the Orlando chapter STC.

We were very sorry to hear about the passing of Bernard Hurwitch, husband of former member Estelle Hurwitch.  Mr. Hurwitch was born on October 28, 1933, in Boston, Massachusetts.  A graduate of Northeastern University, he served in the Army Signal Corps in Europe from 1953 to 1956.  In 1980 he moved to Florida and worked at Lockheed Martin Corp. as an engineer until retirement.  He also volunteered as a Citizen on Patrol for the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office.  A devoted family man, gardener, and hardcore New England sports fan, Bernard Hurwitch passed away on March 24, 2014, at the age of 80.  We would like to share our heartfelt condolences to Estelle and the rest of Bernard’s family and friends for their loss.