Tech Comm Café: Sept. 9 recap; next meeting Oct. 14

Tech Comm Café: Sept. 9 recap; next meeting Oct. 14

The monthly Tech Comm Café met on September 9 at the Allegro Café, on the mezzanine level of the Whole Foods Market at 8th and Cambie in Vancouver. The turnout was smaller than usual, which made for more lively and in-depth discussions than in a larger group.

Announcements: The upcoming Chapter Collaboration Meeting will be held at the Vancouver Art Gallery, September 19. Anyone interested in participating in the activities of the STC Canada West Coast chapter is encouraged to attend.

The chapter’s recent webinar on concise writing was favourably reviewed. One attendee described a recent positive experience working with an agency, which handles payroll but not recruitment, resulting in a better deal for the employer as well as the contractor.

The chapter has several volunteer opportunities available. Contact the volunteer coordinator at volunteer [at] stcwestcoast [dot] ca for details.

The rest of the meeting fell into a few broad themes:

The role of the technical communicator: One emerging trend in technical communications is the demand for internal knowledge transfer — documenting the knowledge inside employees’ heads before they leave a company. This role is distinct from writing end-user documentation, which is often seen as part of a company’s marketing. This led to a brief mention of the role of technical writers on cross-functional teams

Skills and training: One attendee was a working technical writer, but with no formal training in the role. We discussed the pros and cons of local education programs and the benefits of certification and training for those with experience.

Useful information skills and techniques were also discussed. Vicarious liability arising from documentation was touched on. Practical skills on the job were covered, such as how search engines can be a technical writer’s best friend and tutor, the importance of drawing out SMEs in informal ways, and using networking on the job as well as in a job hunt.

Job Search: We discussed the best ways to research companies to work for, tricks for getting in the door, and what level of company management to pitch your application towards. Novel ways of finding companies likely to hire writers were mentioned. Another topic was “thank-you notes: hokey or not?”

Next Tech Comm Café: Wednesday, October 14, 2015 – Allegro Cafe

The TCC provides networking opportunities, job leads, answers to work-related dilemmas, and a burst of professional energy to keep you motivated. We discuss technical writing tools and techniques, career planning, portfolios, and anything else related to working as a technical communicator.

We welcome anyone who’s interested in technical communication — contractor, in-house, student, long-time tech writer, STC member, non-member, career-changer, or recruiter. We hope to see you at the next meeting!

Date: Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Time: 6:30–8:00 pm Pacific Time

Location: Allegro Café, Whole Foods Market, 510 West 8th Avenue at Cambie, Vancouver. The Allegro is the smaller coffee bar on the mezzanine level, with entrance on the Cambie Street side (not downstairs where we have previously met). Close to Broadway-City Hall Skytrain (Canada Line) and Broadway buses; pay parking on the street or in the Whole Foods underground parkade, entrance on West 8th Ave.


  1. Introductions. Take 60 seconds to introduce yourself, your background, current activities. A good chance to try out that new elevator speech.
  2. Announcements and job leads. If you know of an interesting event or a job opening, or you’re looking for work, share it with the group.
  3. Brainstorming Q&A. Ask about a work-related problem and discuss potential solutions.
  4. Speed networking. Spend a few minutes with a new contact, exchange business cards, and discuss your professional backgrounds and goals.