The 2017 BCIT Technical Writing Alumni Lunch, which was held on September 16th, started with a panel discussion on Communication for a Complex World. The panel featured three STC Canada West Coast chapter executive members: Serena Beck (chapter president), Stephen Gauer (chapter past president), and Beverlee Bishundayal (chapter secretary/treasurer). There were 35 attendees, including students, alumni, and STC members.
Stephen began by giving examples of the increasing complexity of the world in general, and how this makes our task as technical communicators more complex. During the panel discussion, the panelists explained how they deal with different types of complexity in their jobs.
Multitasking as a solo writer: As the only technical writer in her company, Beverlee has to juggle a lot of administrative duties along with her writing job. She has some techniques that help her stay organized:
Virtual teams: Serena works on a virtual team, living in Victoria while working out of the Edmonton office of her company. The challenges her team encountered included:
General team work: Beverlee’s team has successfully used the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality inventory to help them understand each other’s communication styles, work together more effectively, and make better decisions about who would be suited for various tasks.
Translation for a global audience: Much of what Serena writes at work is translated into several different languages. Serena offered some tips for writing for translation:
Dealing with complexity as a tech writer: Stephen talked about how he deals with complexity as a technical writer, and gave some advice:
After a short break, the panelists answered questions from the audience, discussing different types of personality indicators, how to find international jobs, and the art of branding yourself as a technical writer.
The event concluded with a table discussion about the aspect of the panel that stood out the most to each person at the table, followed by open networking time.