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Technical Communication Skills

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  1. Technical Communication Skills • Book Reviews • Meetings and How to Survive Them Blay Whitby 2005 blayw@sussex.ac.uk

  2. Book Reviews • A Basic Technical Communication Skill • Fairly Common in Academia • Quite Common in Industry Technical Communication Skills

  3. Book Reviews • Familiar Principles apply: • You are helping someone else • Know your Target Audience • Samples? Technical Communication Skills

  4. Book Reviews • Approach with questions already prepared: • Is it worth buying? • Do we need a copy in the library? • Is it better/as good/worse than other books in the area? Technical Communication Skills

  5. Book Reviews • Questions already prepared: • Who needs to buy this book? • Who needs to read this book? • Who will be able to understand this book? • If you are given guidelines – use them Technical Communication Skills

  6. Book Reviews • These, in turn, lead to more specific questions: • Does it cover enough subject matter? • Does it cover the subject matter in sufficient depth? • How deep?; how dense? • Is the style suitable for likely readers? • If so, who are they? Technical Communication Skills

  7. Book Reviews • specific questions: • Does the index work adequately? • How useful are contents, page layout etc? • What is the market? • Will the publisher make money? • Be honest. Technical Communication Skills

  8. Meetings • Meetings, ....! Meetings • Meetings can and do waste an awful lot of time • So why do we bother with them? Technical Communication Skills

  9. Meetings • Functions of Meetings. Meetings can: • Define the group • Revise or increase group knowledge • Let individuals know group aims • Create a commitment to group aims • Allow a leader to lead a team • Provide a status arena Technical Communication Skills

  10. Meetings • There are many types of meetings: • By Size: • Public lecture - 1:100 approx. • Council meeting - 1:40 approx. • Committee - 1:10 approx. • Review – 1:1 approx Technical Communication Skills

  11. Meetings • Types of meetings: • By frequency: • Daily • Weekly • Annual • Ad hoc Technical Communication Skills

  12. Meetings • By motivation: • Shared – e.g., football team • Confrontational – e.g., court • Mixed - management Technical Communication Skills

  13. Meetings • As with reading, writing, etc., the time spent in meetings may be much reduced by being clear in advance about objectives and processes. Technical Communication Skills

  14. Meetings • So: • What is the meeting intended to achieve? • What would happen if we did not hold it? • How will I judge whether this has been a success or a failure? Technical Communication Skills

  15. Meetings • Answers tend to fall under 1+ of 4 headings: • Informative/digestive – could it be done in some other way? • Constructive/originative – brainstorming • Executive – shall we do it? • Legislative – what are the rules? Technical Communication Skills

  16. Meetings • Preparation saves time: • People – many meetings are overloaded, 4 –7 ideal,10 tolerable. • Chairperson – essential • Agenda – vital – few can use one properly. Needs to be circulated in advance. Items: for information/for decision Technical Communication Skills

  17. Meetings • Timing • Early part of the meeting is lively • People waste time on trivia • People are tired after 2 hours • It is essential to have a fixed end time Technical Communication Skills

  18. Meetings • How to Chair Meetings • There are as many ways as chairpersons but only one rule: • You are there for the benefit of the meeting and not vica versa Technical Communication Skills

  19. Meetings • Bad chairpersons: • Use the meeting to fuel their egos • Impose their will at all times • Never impose their will • Steer the meeting even when it isn’t going anywhere Technical Communication Skills

  20. Meetings • Structure (yet again). If everyone knows the structure then responses are quick and efficient: • What seems to be the trouble? • How long has this been going on? • Would you please lie down on the couch • You seem to have slipped a disk • Take this prescription to the chemist…. Technical Communication Skills

  21. Meetings • Some of the important jobs • 1. The Subject: • Studies have shown that meetings usually have 2 leaders: a team leader and a task leader Technical Communication Skills

  22. Meetings • Present the subject – options and actions • Keep to the subject • Focus on practical decisions (ultra vires) • Close quickly after a decision • Ensure the decision is recorded – at the end of each item give a summary of the decisions. Technical Communication Skills

  23. Meetings • Some of the important jobs • 2. The People • Facilitation – getting maximum performance from the people present Technical Communication Skills

  24. Meetings • Control the garrulous • Draw out the silent • Protect the weak • Encourage a clash of ideas • Watch out for suggestion-squashing reflex • Come to the most senior people last • Close on a note of achievement Technical Communication Skills

  25. Technical Communication Skills