The way we view technical communication have dramatically changed in the past few years. Thanks to the convergence of social media, advances in video technology and the ongoing transformation of print media which have changed the manner by which we create, transmit, receive and comprehend media communication.
Technical communication has helped us be able to identify the story or program purpose, design the message and use the appropriate communication medium for large, small-scale or individual audiences. It has enabled us to take advantage of aesthetics as we learn to communicate whether by learning how to create concise, informative messages for traditional and online print, video, audio, interactive or combinations of media formats.
Technical communication is a multimedia form of art in which we work with everything from linear text to hypertext, from static images to video, and we mix and match the form to make a creation. To me art is an experience we can get through one or more media. We see the beauty of technical communication from manuals included with products; the cover page of books written by our favorite authors, an instruction, to an explanation of a “how to do” video. What all of these have in common ranges from graphics, video, colors, and even fonts which come together to form unique ways to communicate to an audience.
A technical communicator may benefit from a good grasp of aesthetics to ensure the product is both usable and attractive. In various markets where the aesthetic is shaped by the technology, such as engineering, the technical communicator must be aware and able to adjust their presentation appropriately. We need to be aware of the audience and know what our audience responds to in terms of presentation and structure. How well we can speak to that audience depends on whether we have the skill in the appropriate domain and medium (Renteria).
If there’s one thing we can all agree upon, it is the fact that art is about communication!
Renteria, Roger. “Resolved: Technical Communication IS Art | TechWhirl.” TechWhirl. 22 Oct. 2012. Web. 6 Dec. 2014.
Image gotten from cartoonstock.com
According to the Society for Technical Communication, technical communication is a field that includes any form of communication that exhibits one or more of the following characteristics:
- Communicating about technical or specialized topics, such as computer applications, medical procedures, or environmental regulations.
- Communicating by using technology, such as web pages, help files, or social media sites.
- Providing instructions about how to do something, regardless of how technical the task is or even if technology is used to create or distribute that communication.
For me, technical communication is is a field that focuses on providing information to users who need assistance in order to define a specific goal. It enables them to find specific information on using products, completing tasks, operating equipment, and completing other types of activities.
Technical communication is valuable to everyone because it makes information more useable and accessible to those who need it. For examples, software instructions help users be more successful on their own, improving how easily those products gain acceptance into the marketplace and reducing costs to support them. Medical instructions help patients and care-providers manage a patient’s treatment, improving the health of the patient while reducing costs and risks associated with incorrect care.
“Defining Technical Communication.” Defining Technical Communication. Society for Technical Communication. Web. 10 Nov. 2014.
I’ve learned to use powerpoint over the years and really liked it mostly because of how easy it was to use. It makes a great tool for businesses and for teachers. Being able to customize a presentation to suit your specific needs with various design templates and themes is an additional reason why I’ve always liked it. I must say the powerpoint is still my favorite go to when trying to make a quick visual presentation to accompany my talk. However, there are several features that bother me, poor font choices and colors that makes the slides hardly readable against the background color. When a presenter has nothing but text and no graphics, it makes it really boring having to sit through the presentation. According to Russell, one should be able to keep the audience interested by including pictures and graphics that reflect the content of a presentation.
You can easily change this typical bar chart slide into a more simple and visual pleasing powerpoint slide as seen below
The second slide makes it so readable and it’s also much easier to understand the key point – that Australia leads the world in this study.
In addition to the bad aspects of the powerpoint, presenters have relied so heavily on the application that they forget to present. They write all the content for the presentation on the slides and read off their presentations word for word forgetting their audiences could have easily read the slides on their own without showing up. Also, using too many transitions or sounds can be very distracting to the audience. A presentation should be fluid at all time while still maintaining the audiences interest.
Presenters should always try to make their message memorable and not rely too much on the slides for structure. They need to learn how to communicate verbally and rely less on the visuals. The powerpoint has the potential to be a really good tool but when it is abused and used wrongly it easily becomes a replacement for the presenter and not a reinforcement.
Photos Courtesy of http://executivespeechcoach.blogspot.com/2013/01/save-us-from-ugly-powerpoint-slides.htm
Russell Wendy, PowerPoint Presentations The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. http://presentationsoft.about.com/od/powerpoint101/a/good_bad_ugly_3.htm
Picture gotten from http://blog-de-traduccion.trustedtranslations.com
Spot the Difference
If you don’t believe the difference plain language can make, take a look at this example from a Public Health Service brochure. The Department of Health and Human Services revised a six-page article on Losing Weight Safely to create a single brochure with a message that’s much easier to follow.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends a half-hour or more of moderate physical activity on most days, preferably every day. The activity can include brisk walking, calisthenics, home care, gardening, moderate sports exercise, and dancing.
Do at least 30 minutes of exercise, like brisk walking, most days of the week.
By tweaking the statement above, the writer has successfully been able to identify the point he is trying to make by putting the most important point at the beginning, using common easily understood words, and short sentences which will most likely hold the audiences’ attention longer.
If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me to repeat myself after asking a question like “would that be all for you?”, I would have a jar filled with money. I can assure you that while I don’t particularly use any “big” words when having a conversation with someone, there is always a possibility for them to have difficulties understanding me. This is why writing or speaking in plain language has been something I continuously do because it works for me and the other person also, it saves me from having to repeat myself three times or more. Writing in particular makes it easy to get a message across more quickly and increases the chance the information will be understood without using unnecessary words.
Plain writing helps audiences from different scopes of life to be able to grasp the meaning behind the words of a communicator. It would be much harder for someone who has no background knowledge of science or mathematics to understand what Newton’s Law of Gravity states but I bet when you say the words “what goes up must come down” he immediately grasps the concept behind the law as something he has heard before. I believe the plain style of writing does have benefits for technical writing students. Because it can help us to apply the principles of plain language in our work, and helps us to understand better than anyone how plain language can improve communication throughout society.
FDA U.S Food and Drug Administration. 18 Apr. 2013. Web. 4 Oct. 2014. <http://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/PlainLanguage/ucm331958.htm>.
I am currently working on my Economics major and a minor in English. I would love the position of the copywriter for my assigned group. Being an event coordinator in the African Students Association where I constantly provide creative ideas or concepts or take an idea and give it substance, direction and content I can also bring that into this project. However, for this project I am also open to the position of creative designer.
I am easily accessible by email and text messages and I check and respond to both regularly. I commute to campus daily and would be available to meet whenever necessary. I am very reliable, always right on task, and will do whatever is necessary to make sure the project is excellent.
Despite the numerous technological changes that have taken place over the years, I strongly believe most organizations still request a traditional resume and employers notwithstanding want to hold a resume in their hands as everyone is not digital-age savvy. In regards to non-traditional resumes, it happens to be a good way to make a great impression depending on the type of job a person is seeking. Regarding social media profiles, candidates might like the idea of being able to showcase their resume, work samples, and explain what they can offer to the company as an employee.
Which of the alternative formats do you think suits you the best? Of all the alternatives available I like the video CV and brochure the best. This is because the video CV serves as a great opportunity to sell my credentials, show off my personality and my presentation skills. It can portray me to the employer as someone who would go the extra mile to land the job and as someone put a lot of thought into making the video. In addition, using the template of a brochure for my resume seems unique, unusual and definitely looks like a sure way to stand out from the crowd.
Personally, as the internet, social media, and of course the ideas from people continue to evolve, I doubt traditional resumes will ever be considered as outdated as there are people who still appreciate a hardcopy resume. In summary, it is here to stay!
Bari, Mariusz. N.d. Graphic. n.p. Web. 14 Sep 2014. <http://resumup.com/1311136>.
Doyle, Alison. “Examples of the Different Types of Nontraditional Resumes.” About. Web. 15 Sept. 2014. <http://jobsearch.about.com/od/nontraditional/ss/nontraditional-resume-examples.htm>.
Epstein, Matthew. “Video Resume: Google Please Hire Me.” YouTube. YouTube, 29 June 2011. Web. 15 Sept. 2014. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRHFEDyHIsc>.
Js, Stariya. “1.11c CJS Resume Brochure.” Docstoc.com. 10 Oct. 2011. Web. 15 Sept. 2014. <http://www.docstoc.com/docs/98668014/111c-CJS-Resume-Brochure>.
Like the Nike slogan states, “Just Do It”. In this day and age where there are job descriptions that require 4-5 years experience it is absolutely okay to stretch the truth as long as it favors you in the end. A resume is typically viewed as a reflection of who you are before you get the opportunity to come face to face with an interviewer. The truth of the matter is if he is displeased or unimpressed with your resume, you will most likely not be called in for an interview. It is no surprise that people continuously enhance their resumes especially with the unemployment rate on a steady rise. While some people are lucky enough to get a job offer, most of them are being paid way less than they were earning, and they are being hired at under 30 hours a week so the company can avoid offering benefits.
In reality, companies typically will not mention how poor the working conditions are. They tend to exaggerate the pay, and often fail to mention that some jobs are not readily available to outsiders but under legal obligations they are required to post all open jobs, in some cases, the hiring manager has already predetermined that they will hire internally (Sullivan). This unfortunately is the bitter truth. Most job seekers prepare for interviews, drive up to 90 minutes to interviews only to find out weeks later that the company has decided to go with someone different. With that being said, I doubt companies really get hurt by an applicant’s white lie. The applicant goes unbothered if he does not land the job and resumes his job search while the company obviously moves on from that interview. In the long run, no one suffers for it. However, falsifying information that can be proven and tested i.e, drug and background tests can be detrimental to an applicant and reduce his likelihood of getting the position since employers spend thousands of dollars screening applicants during the process (Harding).
As tempting as lying on your resume can be, do you strongly believe an applicant who has been unemployed for over a year would be mindful of what he presents to the interviewer? Do you think he is concerned about the interviewer’s view of him or his resume when his main goal is acing the interview and landing the job? No, because as long as he is comfortable with omitting the truth or falsifying his resume the last thing he is worried about is his ethics.
Sullivan, Dr. John. “Opinion Recruiting’s Dirty Little Secrets — What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You .” ere.net, n. d. Web. 5 Sep. 2014. <http://www.ere.net/2011/12/26/recruiting’s-dirty-little-secrets-what-you-dont-know-can-hurt-you/>.
Harding, Ryan. “5 Lies That Damage Your Reputation as a Job Applicant .” Business2community, 18 03 2014. Web. 5 Sep. 2014. <http://www.business2community.com/human-resources/5-lies-damage-reputation-job-applicant-0815564