From The Editor’s Desk

Hello everyone,

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.

GETTING TO KNOW YOU: USER RESEARCH FUNDAMENTALS ANYONE CAN USE

Karen Bachmann

Wednesday, 18 June | 1:00–2:00 PM EDT (GMT-4)

User research is the foundation of user experience, but conducting user research can seem intimidating when just starting out. At its essence, user research is just asking users about themselves in a constructive and focused way. This webinar will help you learn the basic building blocks for user research, from planning to effectively sharing findings.

TARGETING CONTENT TO YOUR USERS’ GOALS

Alyssa Fox

Thursday, 19 June | 4:00–5:00 PM EDT (GMT-4)

In today’s business environment, everyone is doing more with less. How do you provide the content your users need, when they need it, with fewer people and less time to do it? Taking into account these factors, along with our agile environment, the presenter’s team started shifting toward content targeted to achieving users’ goals. This type of content gives specific information when and where necessary, documents best practices, provides extensive and relevant examples, and does not document the obvious or easily discoverable.

TAKING HELP TO THE NEXT STEP: EMBEDDED VIDEO

Matthew West

Tuesday, 8 July | 10:00–11:00 AM EDT (GMT-4)

People are more connected than ever and video is becoming the ubiquitous channel for delivering how-to content to the connected world. Product help no longer has to be static text and long descriptive passages. That rich text content can be delivered as short video clips embedded into online help, meaning that text can be minimized to key points for those users who need only a simple answer, while complex content can be delivered as a quick video tutorial, reducing complex help documents to simple content that is more likely to be used.

CLOSE THE CHASM BETWEEN THE EXPERT AND THE NOVICE TO ACHIEVE POSITIVE OUTCOMES

Judith Shenouda

Friday, 11 July | 1:00–2:00 PM EDT (GMT-4)

The webinar explores how breakdowns in communication between the expert and the novice interfere with achieving positive outcomes in all areas of human endeavor and provides advice on ways that technical communicators—and others—can close the chasm for the good of all.

ESSENTIALS FOR LAUNCHING YOUR OWN TECHNICAL COMMUNICATION BUSINESS

Ann Marie Queeney

Wednesday, 16 July | 1:00–2:00 PM EDT (GMT-4)

You’re thinking about striking out on your own—but how do you make your dream a reality? This webinar covers the essential components to ensure a successful launch of a technical communication business.

THE SECURE COMMUNICATOR—BEST PRACTICES FOR SURVIVING HEARTBLEED AND OTHER THREATS

Ben Woelk

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

Do you understand how you’ve been affected by the Heartbleed bug? Are you worried about maintaining your privacy online? (You should be.) Do you know how to best protect client or company information? Is it safe to use social media? Have you heard of ransomware? Are you worried about identity theft? If you don’t know how to answer one or more of these questions, this webinar is for you!

STYLES GONE WILD? CSS CONCEPTS IN A NUTSHELL

Neil Perlin

Friday, 18 July | 1:00–2:00 PM EDT (GMT-4)

New online content techniques like multichannel publishing and responsive design rely heavily on best practices for development. One of the most important of those practices is the use of styles and style sheets, in line with W3C recommendations that style codes be removed from HTML files and put in a style sheet, or CSS, instead. The result will be cleaner, more future-proofed content. If you’re new to CSS, it may look impenetrable but there actually is logic to it. Understand that logic and the rest begins to fall into place. If you’ve decided that it’s time to make serious and correct use of styles but aren’t sure where to start, this presentation will get you going.

DESTINATION: GRAPHICS

Tricia Spayer

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

When planning a trip, it’s essential to know your destination. This is also true for graphics. You need to know where the graphics are going to be seen before you add them to your documentation. The destination will determine the best format, resolution, and size of graphic to use. Come to this webinar to plan your graphics journey. You will also learn about the benefits of using graphics vs. text, what makes an effective graphic, best practices for graphics, the types of graphics, single-sourcing graphics, effective callouts, and enhancing illustrations and photographs.

GRAPHICS AND AUDIO FOR MORE ENGAGING PRESENTATIONS

Robert Hershenow

Wednesday, 23 July | 1:00–2:00 PM EDT (GMT-4)

The right sounds and graphics can make your presentations more engaging and effective. This webinar will show you how to find, edit, and use photos, clip art, and audio to make better presentations. We will look at design principles and creative techniques, and also at the science behind boosting information transfer with multimedia content.

VISUALIZING DOCUMENTS WITH SCALABLE VECTOR GRAPHICS

David Gardiner

Tuesday, 29 July | 10:00–11:00 AM EDT (GMT-4)

Scalable vector graphics (SVG) is part of HTML5 and has considerable potential for producing hyperlinked infographics for online help. This webinar shows how SVG can be the basis for new online documentation interfaces that integrate with topic-based help and improve the user experience. Learn how SVG as an enabling technology can be the basis for visual-first interfaces that improve accessibility of technical documents.

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

 

Reprint of my the 2014 May Intercom Article…
“HI, I’M DEBRA JOHNSON, I am the technical communication lead….
What is technical communication, you ask?  I’d be happy to tell you.…”

It’s often not easy to establish relationships with executives in a company, so I am always quick to chat with coworkers during our elevator ride at work. You never know when you’re going to meet someone pivotal to your future, and I believe it’s important to have your elevator speech rehearsed and ready.

What Is an Elevator Pitch?

Even in the best of times it can be hard to get resources for your team—after all, there are only so many financial resources to go around. But the quest for funds can be difficult, if not impossible, when decision makers don’t know what we do or how we add value.  We want them to take notice, especially when trying to establish our worth within a company. When you have the opportunity to speak to a decision maker, even if it’s for just a minute or two, you want to maximize that time. You need to have an “elevator speech” ready for that moment when you have their undivided attention.

According to Wikipedia, an elevator pitch or speech is “a short summary used to quickly and simply define a person, profession, product, service, organization, or event and its value proposition.” The name elevator pitch reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver a summary in the time span of an elevator ride, approximately thirty seconds to two minutes. The term itself comes from a scenario of an accidental meeting with someone important in the elevator. If the conversation inside the elevator in those few seconds is interesting, the conversation would continue after the elevator ride, and end in an exchange of business cards, a scheduled meeting, etc.

These mini mission statements can happen in an elevator, a meeting room, in the cafeteria, or at a team-building event—just about anywhere you find yourself explaining what you do. But what is most important, along with your pitch, is to have an example that drives your message home—the numbers, the meat and potatoes. After 20 years in this profession, I have my pitch pretty well mastered; it can adapt to the moment or audience and it usually ties into a frustrating workplace situation, such as information stored on multiple “collaborative document storage sites” with no search capabilities, or deciphering what engineers have written, or information silos.

Those who ask…“What is technical communication?” often attempt to answer the question without waiting for a response. “Is that the same as technical writing?” For me, I simply say, “Well, yes, we do technical writing, but we also do content analysis and design, determine content delivery strategies, perform usability testing, use project management skills, and also counsel others on correct authoring techniques.”

Add an Example

Part of my message usually describes how we have modernized the content creation, delivery, and storage processes, so everyone knows where to go to get the information they need (especially about technology). That message takes two to three minutes to convey. Then, if you have time, add an example that includes numbers. I usually pull from a countless number of examples. However, the one that has proven to be the most effective and easiest to comprehend quickly could apply to any company.

My example comes from past employment, in the form of a company-wide email that was distributed with an attached instruction document. This email announced the company was implementing a new security process and the date it would occur (two weeks in the future). The email had a document attached that an engineer had written instructing how to implement this new process. Two weeks later came the second email giving us the go-ahead to implement. This email referred to the instructions emailed two weeks prior.

Being in IT for most of my career, I was somewhat familiar with this new security process the company was about to implement, so I thought this would be a piece of cake. After finally locating the first email, I tried to follow the instructions the engineer had created. It didn’t work. The instructions (written by an engineer) were missing two steps, the steps that were listed were out of order, and the required prerequisites were missing.

I finally gave up and called the help desk. Within 10 minutes I was up and running, but it was the help desk that had to implement the new process. I still didn’t have the missing or correct information. As you read the rest of this example, keep in mind that each time someone engages the help desk there is a cost to handle that call.

Over the next couple of weeks, the help desk supervisor sent a daily email to IT itemizing all the help desk calls received related to this implementation. In the email, he described how many calls they received each day, how long each one took to resolve, and at level of support.

So far, I have collected these points from which I created my example:

  1. Instructions were written by a non-technical communicator.
  2. The second email distributed to begin implementation did not include the instructions.
  3. Instructions written were incorrect and not tested.
  4. Incomplete or incorrect information resulted in help desk calls.
  5. During a one-week period, the help desk calculated close to 1,000 calls. Based on statistics sent by the help desk supervisor, of these calls 82% were resolved within seven minutes by first-level support.
  6. Based on experience, the average cost for engaging the help desk is $20 per call—more expensive if the call is more complex and has to be routed to the next level support person.
  7. $20 per call multiplied by 820 is $16,400. The incomplete instruction document sent out was a six-page Word document with screen captures. The average time for a technical communicator to review/revise is about two hours per page, so this document would have taken 12 hours to complete and test. Using an average loaded rate of $66/hour, the cost for a technical communicator to review, revise, and test the procedure: $792. The cost comparison? $16,400 (no technical communicator) vs. $800 (with technical communicator)…and that’s the impact of just one document. Imagine the cost savings multiplied by the number of incomplete or inaccurate documents distributed without the benefit of our professional technical communication services. The resulting cost saving is huge.

My Elevator Speech

“Technical communication adds value by providing correct and accurate content that is easy to consume, discoverable, reusable, coordinated with other company content, delivered dynamically, tested for accuracy, and saves the company money.

For example, instructions for a new security process implementation were written by an engineer and distributed company-wide. According to the help desk manager, they received 1,000 help desk calls in five days, with 82% of the calls resolved by level-one support in seven minutes.

These calls could have been deflected if the document had been routed through a technical communicator, corrected, and tested before distribution. So 820 calls times $20 equals $16,400 versus having a technical communicator review, revise, and test in 12 hours at $66 per hour for a total of $792. And that’s just one document.”

Then, I just stand back and watch the light bulb go on.   What’s your elevator speech?

A View From Number Two

Sarah Baca

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

 

 

 

For our June meeting this month we are celebrating a wonderful chapter year with a banquet at Tibby’s New Orleans Kitchen. I personally am celebrating my last year as Vice President of the chapter. I have learned so much during my time as a member of the Advisory Council, and I am so grateful to everyone who has mentored me.
Here are the details, I hope you can join us!
PROGRAM: Thursday June 19, 2014
Program starts promptly at 6:30pm
LOCATION:
Tibby’s New Orleans Kitchen
2203 Aloma Ave.
Winter Park, FL

2014_6_Image A View From Number Two

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COST: No Meeting Fee. Only cost is your individual meal.
Please join us for our annual end-of-the-year celebration, where we will be honoring the exceptional members and guests of the chapter in an awards presentation. We will also be welcoming the 2014-2015 officers.
Please show your support for the award-winning STC Orlando Central Florida Chapter and attend! Bring a friend!

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….

You missed a lively and informal session over dinner at Perkins Restaurant on University Boulevard. Technical communicators Jen Juneau and Jen Selix presented on “Writing, Editing, and Making a Living in Online Publishing.”
Known for the evening as “Jen squared,” Jen and Jen both discovered the freelance work that they do now after losing traditional jobs. They shared the results of their trailblazing with an audience of 17. The discussion included how to channel opportunities to your inbox by using staffing agencies, local writing groups, social media, your personal Web site, and a few other intriguing Web resources. Some of us nine-to-fivers had never heard of E-lance, a site where you can bid on posted jobs and garner reviews, and Fiverr, where you can start small—the business model is “What will you do for $5?”
Look for the meeting handout on the STC Orlando site.

18th Year Of Memorial Scholarship

18th Year of Memorial Scholarship

Maise, Vrhovac Receive Coveted Pellegrins
As UCF Foundation Funds Award for 1st Time

                             By Dan Voss, Education Committee Chair

The Melissa Pellegrin Memorial Scholarship Fund celebrates a significant milestone at the STC Orlando Central Florida year-end chapter meeting June 19 with the award of the 33rd and 34th scholarships in its 18-year history.

The recipients, recently graduated University of Central Florida “senior” Charles Maise and UCF graduate student James Vrhovac, were selected from a highly competitive field. Each received a $500 financial award.

Melissa Pellegrin_PellegrinFor the first time, the 2014 awards have been funded from the UCF Foundation’s Melissa Pellegrin Memorial Scholarship Fund, which reached maturity as a perpetual endowment at this time last year—
2 years ahead of schedule thanks to the early fruition of a fund-raising initiative and the generosity of corporate and personal donors.

 

Honoring a Colleague and Friend…                   …Excellence in Technical Communication

Established in 1997, the scholarship honors the memory of the 1994 graduate who herself won an STC scholarship in 1993 and went on to join the STC Orlando chapter and serve on the Education Committee.

For the first time, this year’s scholarship applications were evaluated and awarded by a selection committee in the UCF English Department. This committee included two faculty members, the English Department chair, a UCF administrator, and a representative of the OCF chapter.

Both of the 2014 recipients sport impeccable academic credentials. And both impressed the selection committee with their knowledge of and commitment to the technical communication profession, as reflected in their scholarship application letters.

Thoughts about our Profession

Maise offered these insights into the profession: “For me, a technical communicator is someone who, through the use of language and design, makes the unfamiliar more familiar or easier to understand. That may seem like a vague definition, but that’s only because of the many purposes technical communicators can serve. Technical communicators teach other people. They persuade, inform, and clarify. They widen perspectives and strengthen our understanding of each other and the things we do. I want to do all these things for people. Whether working in a team or as an individual, I want to help build understanding between people, even if it’s in regard to a seemingly trivial matter. Connections, even the smallest of them, help build understanding.”

Vrhovac had this to say about a technical communicator: “My initial understanding of what a technical communicator is was that of someone who writes and works in technical or scientific industries and creates instruction manuals; this is a very shortsighted definition of our field. I believe we work in the most flexible and dynamic of communication industries. [Technical communication] is a discipline which provides opportunities to work with and around the world. While a novelist may create a window into a world real or imagined, we create the meaning of our world. We develop the means and paths through which communication happens. We are global providers; there is little informative communication that transacts in which the expert touch or guidance of the technical communicator has not played a part. Many careers aspire to influencing and changing the world we do it every day in some little way.”

With the coveted Pellegrin Award adding luster to their already impressive credentials, one can foresee nothing but success for our latest two recipients as they embark upon their careers in our profession.

More than $13K Awarded Over 18 Years

Since the scholarship was instituted in 1997, 34 scholarships representing an aggregate $13,200 in financial awards have been bestowed—22 to undergraduate students and 12 to graduate students.

To a person, the recipients have paid testimony to how much the award has meant to them as they completed their education and entered the profession. See “Former Pellegrin Scholarship Recipients Share Their Thoughts,” on the Education Committee pages of the chapter web site.

The latest scholarship winners are no exception.

Thoughts about the Scholarship

Maise expressed his feelings as follows: “When I learned that I had received the scholarship, I was honored and thrilled. Like some of the recipients before me, I found it reaffirmed my decision to follow this path in study. In reading about the history of the scholarship, I was inspired by the spirit of camaraderie and support within the Orlando Central Florida chapter of STC. I recently attended a chapter meeting and was welcomed with open arms and genuine interest. This scholarship has provided me with more than the monetary award and the prestigious note in my resume. As a recipient of this scholarship, I hope to affect others with positivity and support in my work as a professional.”

More briefly but just as fervently, Vrhovac said, “I am humbled by this award, and hope I will be able to return as much as I have received from our chapter and society. This support helps me as I finish the last miles of what has seemed a long, but rewarding, journey.”

 

Supporting the Scholarship Fund

To contribute to the Melissa Pellegrin Memorial Scholarship Fund via check, cash, or charge card, contact the STC Orlando Central Florida chapter treasurer, Alex Garcia (alex.garcia@lmco.com).

Note that since STC is a 503 (c) (3) charitable organization, all contributions are tax deductible. Many employers allow employees to direct their annual United Way campaign contributions to any 503 (c) (3) organization.

If your employer matches donations to colleges and universities, we encourage you to take advantage of the match by contributing directly to the UCF Foundation, earmarking your contribution to the Melissa Pellegrin Memorial Scholarship Fund. To do so, contact Laura Pooser at UCF (laura.pooster@ucf.edu).

Excellence in Technical Communication …

The 33rd and 34th recipients of the Melissa Pellegrin Memorial Scholarship join their predecessors as rising stars within our profession.

Charles Maise

James Vrhovac (with son Finn)

 Charles Maise_Pellegrin  James Vrhovac_Pellegrin

“Technical communicators teach other people. They persuade, inform, and clarify.” 

“When I learned that I had received the scholarship, I was honored and thrilled….
I found it reaffirmed my decision to follow this path in study.”

“While a novelist may create a window into a world real or imagined, we create the meaning of our world.” 

“I am humbled by this award, and hope I will be able to return as much as I have received from our chapter and society.”

 

Member News

Last month the Orlando chapter held its officer elections and the results for each officer/office are as follows:

Debra Johnson

President

Mary Burns

Vice President

R.D. Sharninghouse

Secretary

Alex Garcia

Treasurer

David Coverston

Director

Mark Wray

Director

 

Thank you to everyone that participated.  Congratulations to those who won.

In other news, W.C. Wiese has won an Excellence Award for Best Series of Blog Posts in the 2014 Apex Awards for Publication Excellence.  Congratulations W.C. on the award!

I would like to mention that Sarah Baca will be leaving the Advisory Council of the Orlando chapter STC, but we would like to say thank you for all of your hard work and dedication that you brought to each position you served.

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