TCUK17 Speaker Holli Hamilton – “The Glossary is Dead, Long Live the Glossary!”

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Holli Hamilton will be presenting at TCUK17 on “The Glossary is Dead, Long Live the Glossary!”.

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In the world of topic-based authoring, when you’re creating a topic pool rather than a page-by-page document, it can sometimes feel hard to identify the work left to be done. How can you identify the gaps in knowledge without a structure to hold the work against?

In the formative stages of a documentation project, Holli proposes the glossary can be the core around which you measure your growing pool of topics.

About Holli Hamilton

Holli is currently the sole technical writer for Corero Network Security. She has been a technical writer for over 5 years and came into the field from a Fine Art background. While that may seem odd at first glance, she believes that they share the core values of communication, information absorption, and understanding your audience. She loves nothing more than the unity of these disciplines in a perfectly functional diagram.

Outside of work, she has more hobbies than any sane woman should and enjoys frustrating her husband with the amount of craft supplies you can fit into a one-bed flat.

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TCUK17 Speaker Andrew Mills – “It’s in the Game – The art of Creating a Helpful Video Game Guide”

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Andrew Mills will be presenting at TCUK17 on “It’s in the Game – The art of Creating a Helpful Video Game Guide”.

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“What’s that? You can be paid to play, and write about, video games full-time? Well, sign me right up!” Whoooa! Easy tiger. There’s a substantial amount more to writing a, helpful, guide to the latest and greatest video games than just having a blast and knocking up a few words.

In fact, it’s a lot of very demanding work. As someone who has produced more than 140 game guides over a 14-year period, I thought I’d share how my workflow evolved from creating simple word documents, to incorporating high-definition videos and narrative audio in eBooks and mobile apps.

About Andrew Mills

In March 1999, my first video game guide was published in the pages of N64 Magazine. In 2003, I began creating numerous text and video tutorials for the Metroid video game series and this experience led to me becoming the ‘go-to’ video game guide author for most of Future Publishing – Europe’s largest magazine publisher.

I continued to create and self-publish video game guides for digital platforms, such as iOS applications and e-books, before moving into the role of Technical Author in the business software sector in 2015. Today I’m growing professionally as a Senior Information Developer for ARM in Cambridge.

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TCUK17 Speaker Phil Lane – “Creating content and output for mobile and embedded devices”

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Phil Lane will be presenting at TCUK17 on “Creating content and output for mobile and embedded devices”.

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Whilst mobile devices can deliver a fantastically rich user experience, they often share some attributes with embedded devices, such as limited screen size, storage capacity or methods of interaction. We will examine the tools and techniques that allow you to adapt your content to work on both types of device, working around these limitations.

However, even embedded devices can support some dynamic capabilities, so we will explore these features, explaining how they can help your content become more interactive and appealing, and more useable as a result.

About Phil Lane

Phil Lane is a Content Strategy Specialist at Imprimatur Limited. He combines his experience in XML with his understanding of documentation processes to develop strategies and implementation plans that deliver improved documentation efficiency.

Phil particularly relishes projects in the automotive industry, where finding solutions is often challenging because of the need for simultaneously-available multi-lingual content, the pressures of a strict 12-month product cycle, and the tightly-constrained in-vehicle operating environment.

Phil holds a degree in Engineering and has a strong computer systems background reaching back over 13 years.

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TCUK17 Speaker Jen Lambourne – “What I wish I’d known before doing user research for the first time”

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Jen Lambourne will be presenting at TCUK17 on “What I wish I’d known before doing user research for the first time”.

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We all want our content to meet the needs of our users, but the practicalities of user research and testing can be daunting, especially if you don’t have a research background.

In this talk, I’ll share some practical advice to get you started. From deciding what and how to research, finding users, handling consent, interview techniques, experience mapping, analysis and more, the talk will focus on the mistakes I’ve made and plenty of advice to get you going. We’ll also cover how to feed those all important findings back into product and content development.

About Jen Lambourne

Jen is a technical writer fighting an endless battle against acronyms and jargon. After escaping the worlds of technology PR and marketing, she now works at Government Digital Service (GDS), part of the Cabinet Office. In her latest role, Jen produces technical guidance for people across the UK government, as well as technical documentation for GDS products and services – all with a heavy dose of user research and testing.

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TCUK17 Speaker Yuri Kolber – Best Practices of Documentation Migration Projects, an OTC Case Study

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Yuri Kolber, from sponsor OnTarget Communications, will be presenting a case study at TCUK17 on “Best Practices of Documentation Migration Projects”.

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Logo for OnTarget Communications

The case study examines the learnings, both positive and negative, from two migration projects (both for customers with global audiences). In both cases the customers were looking to move documentation to a collaborative platform, that would enable value delivery through version control, effective re-use of content, and efficient distribution of documentation. Due to the different requirements and audiences, the solutions selected for the customers were substantially different technically (from a toolset perspective), but both delivered the desired results. The session will provide guidelines for ensuring that migrating documentation to new platforms and toolsets, is as painless as possible.

About Eran (Yuri) Kolber

Eran (Yuri) Kolber is the Director of Training and Professional Services for OnTarget Communications. As part of his duties, he assists customers world-wide with Training Needs Analysis, Training Delivery, Content Creation and Management, Migration Project Planning and Execution, Knowledge Transfers, and extracting the maximum business value from technology, in the age of the Cloud and Mobility.

Yuri served as a Platform Evangelist for Microsoft for many years, and has assisted global consulting organizations, such as Holden International, to plan and roll-out content management and training programs for their customers.

He also leads OnTarget’s Internship program, which helps entrants into the industry obtain the required experience.

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TCUK17 Speaker Marie-Laure Blanc – “How to stay on topic when on stage in a world where a 4-minute YouTube video is the standard in attention span”

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Marie-Laure Blanc will be giving a workshop at TCUK17 on “How to stay on topic when on stage in a world where a 4-minute YouTube video is the standard in attention span”.

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As a technical communicator, you know how to recognise great speakers. But – let’s face it – back in your office, how often do you end up going back to presentation habits detrimental to you and your audience?

Our General learning outcome for this highly interactive session is: embodying your technical communicator’s soul every time you present.

Specific outcomes are:

  • Choosing the right scenario from the very beginning to the very end.
  • Designing your own ready to use 4-dimension action plan for your next presentation.
  • Bringing rhythm to what you say.
  • Crafting crispy sentences.

Participants are expected to come with a presentation in mind. Two participants – willing to – will have the possibility to deliver a ten-minute presentation to start our session. If you are interested, get in touch before 15th September at marie.blanc@wanadoo.fr.

About Marie-Laure Blanc

Some people say they want to get out of the box: I did it for real.
After ten years witnessing the daily challenges of the corporate world from my interpreting booth, I got out of it to develop an inclusive approach to leading.

For ten years, I taught translation and communication – with great pleasure – at the University of Marne la Vallée.

During the 20th century, I was lucky to study and work in Spain, the UK (Thames Valley Univ., Westminster Univ.) and France. http://marie-laure-blanc.com/

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TCUK17 Speaker Karen Mardahl – “Surviving the agile enterprise: case study from the trenches”

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Karen Mardahl will be presenting at TCUK17 on “Surviving the agile enterprise: case study from the trenches”.

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What are the challenges for ten technical communicators in a large company moving from a waterfall development environment to an agile development environment with about 500 developers and testers?

This is a case study about writers learning together to work the agile way in a world that is in flux.

My colleagues and I use our own technical writing community of practice to guide ourselves via our successes and failures, and to teach our developer/tester colleagues about what we do. We are now reaping the benefit of our move to topic-based authoring several years ago. We still have challenges fitting a backlog of non-TBA legacy material into the fast-paced world of SAFe – Scaled Agile Framework for Enterprises.

I will share our plans, our goals, our challenges, and our frustrations using real-life anecdotes from the trenches.

About Karen Mardahl

I am a senior technical writer at SimCorp in Denmark where I do my part to document an investment management system for the financial industry. I have long been keen on issues of accessibility and usability for technical communicators. That interest is still very strong and will never disappear. Lately, my daily focus has been on how a technical communicator can get things done in an agile world. I feel privileged to work together with great colleagues on finding answers to all our agile questions. TCUK17 will be my eighth TCUK conference. You can find me on Twitter @kmdk.

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TCUK17 Keynote Speaker Mike Hamilton – “Five Cascading Style Sheet Techniques That Every Technical Writer Should Know”

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Keynote speaker Mike Hamilton will also give a presentation at TCUK17 on “Five Cascading Style Sheet Techniques That Every Technical Writer Should Know”.

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We all know how to style in word processors but too many writers seem reluctant to learn CSS techniques. In this session, Mike Hamilton shares five easily mastered CSS techniques to help build confidence in writers at any skill level. Since the CSS language is the basis for styling modern markup languages, the more you learn about CSS the more it will benefit your career. Learn the basic techniques for the beginner, and some intermediate techniques for those more advanced. In addition, Mike will then finish with a prototype CSS technique allowing for vocabulary control over your content in a Responsive Design situation.

Mike Hamilton’s keynote talk is about “Topic-based Authoring – Is it for me?”.

About Mike Hamilton

Mike Hamilton is the Vice President of Product Evangelism at MadCap Software. Prior to joining MadCap Software, he served as the Product Manager for Macromedia’s award-winning RoboHelp product line, where he gathered input and feedback from the customer community and guided ongoing development of the various RoboHelp products.

Mr. Hamilton has over twenty years of experience in training, technical communication, multimedia development, and software development at several organizations including MadCap Software, Macromedia, eHelp, Blue Sky Software, Cymer, a leading supplier of laser illumination sources to the semiconductor industry, National Steel & Shipbuilding and the US Navy.

Mr. Hamilton is often a featured speaker at industry events, including the STC (the Society for Technical Communication) Annual Conference, the annual TEKOM/TC World Conference in Germany, the annual SOAP Conference in Poland, the European Online Documentation Conferences, and many more events. Mr. Hamilton has also appeared at the Microsoft Campus and STC regional conferences and events.

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TCUK17 Speaker Graeme West – “Resistance is futile! How automation can improve your docs – and your life”

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Graeme West will be presenting at TCUK17 on “Resistance is futile! How automation can improve your docs – and your life”.

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Continuous Integration (CI) tools are used by software engineers to test and deploy code on a daily basis – but their benefits for technical writers are less well understood. In this presentation, we will explain the benefits of CI tools in your docs workflow.

We’ll consider how automation can achieve two key goals: improving quality and encouraging innovation.

CI tools can make regular checks of content, such as grammar, broken links, and file validity. More importantly, adopting an automation mentality lets you become a ‘writing engineer’ who takes ownership of implementing continuous improvements to your workflow.

About Graeme West

Graeme West is a technical writer from Glasgow, Scotland, who focuses on software documentation and localisation. He has interests in automation, process improvement, and working closely with development teams.

He works for Verint, a global leader in business and public sector intelligence systems. He previously designed and implemented the documentation system for NCR’s Mobile Centre of Excellence. He has also worked as a community manager, developer, and sysadmin.

In his spare time, he writes about himself in the third person, and wonders why you are still reading his boring biography.

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TCUK17 Speaker Mark Dennett – “How to win friends as a technical author, and influence the development of software”

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Mark Dennett will be presenting at TCUK17 on “How to win friends as a technical author, and influence the development of software”.

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Drawing on my recent experience as a technical author working in multi-national software environments, I will identify the challenges in producing quality documentation, and discuss some helpful strategies. I will argue that the technical author possesses a range of skills that could make them essential to the software development process, particularly with regard to terminology, and the development of the user interface. By providing guidance and feedback into the development process, I will describe an approach that will allow us to become an essential cog in the development machine, rather than a spare part.

About Mark Dennett

Born in East Yorkshire, I studied English and Philosophy at Staffordshire University before moving to Bristol to work in video production. I then worked in IT and telecoms support, spending ten years at Buro Happold Engineering in Bath. I eventually worked in the IT Infrastructures team, supporting several international offices. In my final years at Bath, I completed a part-time MA in Technical Communication at Portsmouth University. This enabled me to develop a career as a technical author. After briefly working for Sky, I secured my first technical author role at CAE Mining, before moving to Zuken at Bristol, where I currently work as a senior technical author.

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TCUK17 Speaker Andrew McFarland Campbell – “Automatic Documentation for Software”

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Andrew McFarland Campbell will be presenting at TCUK17 on “Automatic Documentation for Software”.

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Many modern software products are complex, having anything from dozens to thousands of configuration parameters. This is particularly true for distributed systems or cloud-based products. Agile environments can result in many subtly different product versions released in quick succession. Traditional documentation methods have trouble keeping up.

It is important to automate as much of the documentation process as possible, including generating documentation directly from source code, moving the technical writer from being a writer to being an editor and developer.

The session covers case studies and scenarios, including code samples, and will conclude with practical considerations, such as management buy-in.

About Andrew McFarland Campbell

I am a technical writer with more than a decade’s experience of automating documentation production for complex software products, particularly in the financial and telecommunications industries. As well as working with standard documentation tools like DocBook and DITA I am experienced with XSLT and various programming languages.

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TCUK17 Keynote Speaker Frances Gordon – “Why topic-based writing and plain language need each other”

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Frances Gordon will be giving her keynote talk on “Why topic-based writing and plain language need each other”.

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According to the Center for Plain Language (US), plain language occurs when a person can find the information they need, understand the information they find, and use this information to meet their needs. Plain language practitioners often emphasise that this discipline involves multiple levels of a communication piece (context, content, structure, design, format, flow, readability, tone, and so on).

To be clear is to be consistent and brief, so the idea of topic-based writing is one that is gaining traction among plain-language practitioners. But it also works the other way: plain language can provide a very useful entry point into the mechanics of topic-based writing – how to stitch together groups of words, phrases and paragraphs in a way that makes sense in varied contexts, for varied users, even translated into varied languages.

Over the past 50 years or so, plain language has built up a solid foundation of research into how human beings read and process information. On the level of terminology, corpus studies can help technical writers to both identify complex words and to find simpler alternatives. It’s important to differentiate jargon from complex words and have a method for how to make decisions about both types of words.

Plain language as a discipline also has a lot to say about metaphor – all language has (or even is) metaphor – but we need to be conscious of how we use metaphor, avoiding extended metaphors, or those that can easily become ‘mixed’ when they appear alongside a different topic.

Another point is that pronouns need to have clear reference points within each content module – else they can very easily become lost, without any reference at all.

On a sentential level, we look at classic readability principles, such as the importance of understanding sentence complexity rather than just length, and how to create sensible rules about active and passive language, and nominalisations.

On a higher level still, we look at cohesion – a key issue for topic-based writing, where paragraphs must make sense as a stitched-together whole, and not as isolated units. Often the use of headlines is very valuable in promoting cohesion in this way.

In conclusion, plain language provides a set of ingredients that if combined with the right taxonomies and technologies, are a recipe for successful topic-based writing.

Frances Gordon will also be giving a presentation on “Dealing with jargon and technical terms”.

About Frances Gordon

Frances’ career started in rural South Africa where she wrote and designed educational materials for low literacy adults.

During her 20-year career, she has held tenures at Datatec/Logical as communications strategist, at London-based Siegel & Gale as Head of Content (EMEA), and at Barclaycard as VP of Content Strategy (UK).

Together with lawyer, Candice Burt, Frances co-founded Simplified, a plain-language and content training and consultancy firm. Its services include communication and content strategy, writing coaching, content audits, Treating Customers Fairly consultancy, and plain-language rewrites. Over 5 000 professionals, from lawyers to technical communicators, have benefited from the Simplified training programme.

Frances has worked on content for blue-chip international companies such as Alexander Forbes, MTN, Liberty Group, NS&I, Old Mutual and Vitality. She also has an active interest in financial inclusion programmes in frontier and emerging markets.

Frances sat on the board of international plain language organisation, PLAIN (Plain Language Association InterNational). She was part of the advisory committee of IC Clear, an EU-funded initiative that developed a post-graduate course in clear communication. She is an active member of Clarity in the UK, which is an organisation devoted to writing legal information clearly.

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TCUK17 Keynote Speaker Frances Gordon – “Dealing with jargon and technical terms”

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Keynote speaker Frances Gordon will also give a presentation at TCUK17 on “Dealing with jargon and technical terms”.

Photo of Frances Gordon

A lack of clarity about jargon often gets in the way of clear, topic-based writing. This presentation gives a method for how to deal with jargon. Jargon are terms with a specific technical meaning – often problems arise not from the jargon itself, but from users ascribing different meanings to the same jargon term, or using different jargon terms for the same meaning. It’s important to research jargon with users so that you can find out not only whether users understand the jargon, but how well, and how consistently across the organisation.

There are two main methods to test jargon – scenario-based user testing, which draws on the field of UX, and comprehension testing. Each has its purpose, and both methods should be used in jargon explorations.

After identifying jargon problems through research, writers need to make and document decisions on whether to replace jargon or define it. If defining, it’s important to keep the definition as short as possible, and to avoid the temptation of including explanations, examples, or substantive content in the definition. Although often used only by lawyers, a drafting table can be a very useful tool for technical writers too.

Frances Gordon’s keynote talk is about “Why topic-based writing and plain language need each other”.

About Frances Gordon

Frances’ career started in rural South Africa where she wrote and designed educational materials for low literacy adults.

During her 20-year career, she has held tenures at Datatec/Logical as communications strategist, at London-based Siegel & Gale as Head of Content (EMEA), and at Barclaycard as VP of Content Strategy (UK).

Together with lawyer, Candice Burt, Frances co-founded Simplified, a plain-language and content training and consultancy firm. Its services include communication and content strategy, writing coaching, content audits, Treating Customers Fairly consultancy, and plain-language rewrites. Over 5 000 professionals, from lawyers to technical communicators, have benefited from the Simplified training programme.

Frances has worked on content for blue-chip international companies such as Alexander Forbes, MTN, Liberty Group, NS&I, Old Mutual and Vitality. She also has an active interest in financial inclusion programmes in frontier and emerging markets.

Frances sat on the board of international plain language organisation, PLAIN (Plain Language Association InterNational). She was part of the advisory committee of IC Clear, an EU-funded initiative that developed a post-graduate course in clear communication. She is an active member of Clarity in the UK, which is an organisation devoted to writing legal information clearly.

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TCUK17 Speaker Rahel Anne Bailie – “Topic-based writing in the molecular world”

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Rahel Anne Bailie will be giving a workshop at TCUK17 on “Topic-based writing in the molecular world”.

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The demands on content are growing.

There’s Germany’s Industry 4.0 initiative, which assumes that the interoperable exchange of data within manufacturing technologies. They don’t call it content, but content developers know all about content denial. An Information 4.0 consortium has already sprung up to prepare us for what’s to come when the content to be delivered is expected in smaller and smaller chunks.

On another front, artificial intelligence and cognitive computing are shaping the content mix. In some ways, topics become more irrelevant; in other ways, well-formed and semantically rich topics are more important than ever.

In this workshop, we will look at these two emerging practices, and examine ways to deal with the sometimes competing, sometimes complementary demands on our topic-based content. Using some basic examples, participants will explore a range of solutions and outcomes through hands-on exercises.

About Rahel Anne Bailie

Rahel Anne Bailie brings a strong understanding of the complexities of managing the editorial and technical aspects of content, throughout the entire content lifecycle, to ensure that content is the driver for existing and emerging channels within the context of a rich customer experience. Chief Knowledge Officer at Scroll, Fellow of the Society of Technical Communication, and organiser of the Content Seriously meetup. She is co-author of Content Strategy: Connecting the dots between business, brand, and benefits and co-editor of The Language of Content Strategy. She is working on her next book on writing for a structured content environment.

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TCUK17 Keynote Speaker Michael Meng – “Optimizing API documentation: What we can learn from developers”

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Michael Meng will give his keynote presentation on “Optimizing API documentation: What we can learn from developers”.

Michael Meng

The talk will outline the main findings from some empirical studies we have done to better understand the information needs of API developers, their expectations regarding content and structure and some criteria they apply to assess documentation quality. I will then propose a set of heuristics and principles that we have derived from these findings, and that we hope can provide evidence-based guidelines for technical writers working on API documentation. Examples showing how the heuristics can be implemented will be drawn from a prototype that we are currently working on.

This work has been co-authored with Stephanie Steinhardt.

Michael Meng will also be giving a presentation on “Effects of visual signalling in screenshots: an eye tracking study”.

About Michael Meng

Michael studied German linguistics and psycholinguistics at the University of Jena (Germany) and the University of Edinburgh. After completing his PhD on syntactic processing during reading in 1998, he worked as a technical writer and later on as department manager of documentation and localization for an international software company. In 2012, Michael was appointed Professor of Applied Linguistics at Merseburg University of Applied Science, where he now teaches courses on text analysis, text production, research methods and cognitive psychology in the B. Eng. and M. A. programs in Technical Communication. He is member of tekom Germany and presents regularly at conferences such as the European Academic Colloquium on Technical Communication, Write the Docs or the annual tcworld/tekom conference.

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TCUK17 Speaker Eran (Yuri) Kolber – “To Video, Or Not To Be – That Is The Question”

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Eran (Yuri) Kolber will be presenting at TCUK17 on “To Video, Or Not To Be – That Is The Question”.

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Technical Authors are being requested by clients (both internal and external) for video segments to be incorporated into online documentation. This session will help you get started if the medium of Video is new to you, or if you are looking for hints and tips to improve your video production capabilities.

Topics covered:

  • Video capture, editing and production fundamentals for Technical Authors
  • Planning & Preparation (audience issues, scripting/storyboarding, preparing your equipment)
  • Recording best practices
  • To narrate, or not? That is another question… (alternatively, Modality, Temporal, and other principles)
  • Editing cheats
  • What NOT to do (well… maybe, sometimes)

About Eran (Yuri) Kolber

Eran (Yuri) Kolber is the Director of Training and Professional Services for OnTarget Communications. As part of his duties, he assists customers world-wide with Training Needs Analysis, Training Delivery, Content Creation and Management, Migration Project Planning and Execution, Knowledge Transfers, and extracting the maximum business value from technology, in the age of the Cloud and Mobility.

Yuri served as a Platform Evangelist for Microsoft for many years, and has assisted global consulting organizations, such as Holden International, to plan and roll-out content management and training programs for their customers.

He also leads OnTarget’s Internship program, which helps entrants into the industry obtain the required experience.

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TCUK17 Speaker Wayne Brissette – “Work Smarter, Not Harder: Reorganizing your team for the new world”

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Wayne Brissette will be presenting at TCUK17 on “Work Smarter, Not Harder: Reorganizing your team for the new world”.

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Is it possible to actually ‘work smarter’ and ‘think different’ about today’s tech comm’s concerns? Deadlines are tighter, budgets more constrained, and people resources are more constrained. Learn how one writing team at ARM reorganized itself to put the cliché into action. Learn how we reorganized a global team, measured reuse to help understand how they can tell you about your topic-based project.

Learn how thinking differently about multiple projects allowed us to increase document quality and meet critical deadlines all without increasing headcount.

About Wayne Brissette

Formal electronics training courtesy of the US Marine Corps, with a degree in Technical Communication, Wayne has over 20 years in the Technical Communications field. He has worked for companies large and small. Currently working as Product Information Architect at ARM, based in Austin, Texas. He has previously worked as a technical author at Apple, ATI (now AMD), and LSI (now Intel). One of the co-leaders of the Central Texas DITA User Group, with over eight years of DITA authoring experience.

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TCUK17 Speaker Maja Engel – “Plunging into the waters of UX”

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Maja Engel will be presenting at TCUK17 on “Plunging into the waters of UX”.

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I will talk about what User Experience (UX) is about, its principles and best practices and how to apply them in your work, regardless of whether you are a technical communicator, UI designer or content strategist. I will show that incorporating UX considerations early on in the design process can help you stay focused on goals instead of features and be able to prioritize. Finally, I will give you some tips and advice drawn from my own experience and cooperation with other UX professionals that might help you venture in this broad field and expand your skills.

About Maja Engel

I have a degree in Conference Interpreting and Translation and started translating technical documentation straight out of university. I worked for the EU and the Croatian government prior to my current employment as technical writer in ESTECO, an engineering software company in Trieste, Italy. I am responsible for the technical documentation of two desktop software platforms and for about a year and a half I have also been in charge of UX architecture and UI design. My goal is to get things done and I want my users to be able to do the same.

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TCUK17 Speaker Ellis Pratt – “Documentation as self-service support”

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Ellis Pratt will be presenting at TCUK17 on “Documentation as self-service support”.

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In this presentation, we’ll look at the different approaches to self-service support, and the role of the technical communicator within that environment.

We’ll explore:

If an organisation wants to encourage self-service support, where does end-user documentation fit in?
Is it realistic to expect users to write any of the content?
Does Software as a Service change the type of support an organisation needs to provide?

About Ellis Pratt

Ellis Pratt is a Director and Help Strategist at Cherryleaf, a technical writing services and training company based near London, in the United Kingdom. He has over 20 years of experience working in the field of documentation, has a BA in Business Studies, and is an Associate of the Institution of Engineering and Technology. Ellis is also on the management council for the Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators (ISTC).

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TCUK17 Speaker Alison Peck – “There must be a better way!”

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Alison Peck will be presenting at TCUK17 on “There must be a better way!”.

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When the authoring tools and processes are making keeping up with product changes nigh on impossible, something has to change.

  • Client A uses Word to produce PDF manuals … but their applications are web-based, and they now sometimes update three or four products simultaneously.
  • Client B uses FrameMaker and RoboHelp to produce PDF manuals and online help, and there is a lot of duplication.

I’ll take you through the steps I followed when learning to use and evaluating MadCap Flare and moving to topic-based authoring, the opportunities and difficulties I faced, all the way to the decisions my clients made.

About Alison Peck

I’ve been a technical author for over 20 years, and have managed Clearly Stated since November 2004. I love my job – from starting to investigate a new application, through crafting the materials, to delivery of the finished products.

Most of my clients are software developers – about the only thing they have in common. They range from multi-national organisations to small companies with fewer than 50 employees, and they operate in sectors as diverse as healthcare, logistics and secure messaging. I produce everything from training materials to reference documents, in anything from online interactive formats to more traditional PDFs.

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TCUK17 Speaker Neil Perlin – “Topic-Based and Structured Authoring – Keeping It Simple”

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Neil Perlin will be giving a workshop at TCUK17 on “Topic-Based and Structured Authoring – Keeping It Simple”.

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Topic-based authoring creates content in small chunks rather than long documents. Structured authoring applies a formal structure to those topics. They’re different processes but most effective when used together. Consistent structure makes content easy for authors to write and readers to absorb. “Bead-sized” content allows single sourcing to multiple formats and devices.

But these methodologies can be time-wasting, expensive, and over-complicated if they don’t fit your company. This workshop looks at various factors to see how to implement these methodologies as quickly, inexpensively, and simply as possible.

  • Definitions of topic-based and structured authoring.
  • Business factors – support for company strategy, handling legacy material, more.
  • Technical factors –trends that affect content development, maintenance, and distribution.
  • Implementation factors – information type definition, template creation, cascading style sheets, DITA vs. non-DITA, more.
  • Hands-on practice defining an information type and structure.

You won’t leave with all the answers. There’s too much to cover and companies differ. But you will leave with the concepts needed to implement topic-based and structured authoring.

Neil Perlin is also giving a presentation at TCUK17: “We’re Going Mobile! Great! Wait. What Does That Mean?”.

About Neil Perlin

Neil has 38 years experience in technical communication, 31 in development, training, and consulting for online formats and tools ranging from cutting edge to dead. He is certified for Flare, Mimic, RoboHelp, and ViziApps Studio and consults on them, along with single sourcing, structured authoring, and apps.

Neil was a columnist for STC and IEEE and is a popular conference speaker, recently at TCUK15. He ran STC’s Bleeding Edge, and represented STC to the W3C for four years. He has written eight books on computing, including Advanced Features in MadCap Flare 10 and Creating Mobile Apps without Coding.

In his spare time, Neil builds telescopes, flies aircraft carrier simulators, and barbecues meat. Contact him at nperlin@nperlin.cnc.net or on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter (@NeilEric).

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TCUK17 Speakers Derek Cooper & Sammi Lauesen – “The fun side of technical communication”

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Derek Cooper & Sammi Lauesen will be giving a workshop on “The fun side of technical communication”.

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Derek and Sammi, the presenters of this workshop, have a passion and excitement for technical communication and bring diverse and complementary skills and experiences to it. They want to share some of that excitement with you in this light-hearted workshop in which you’ll have a chance to ‘play’ with some mystery objects, and to write about them as if they were new products from a start-up company.

If you have one, please bring a laptop computer with MS Word installed, which you’ll use to develop a template and to write user information. You’ll also be critiquing each others’ work, and some samples we supply, offering assessments and making changes for a positive user experience (UX).

About Derek Cooper and Sammi Lauesen

Derek Cooper is a Fellow of the ISTC and has worked in technical communications since 1992. Although his background is in marine electronic engineering, he has produced user documentation in a range of different forms for subjects as diverse as electron and optical microscopy, marine and seismic survey, environmental monitoring, government and financial services, and veterinary science. He has worked with many UK employers, and has run his own successful business as a freelance and contract technical author. He now works for ARM in Cambridge, where he applies his obsession with quality to improve the user experience for ARM’s customers.

Sammi Lauesen is an Information Developer at ARM. Her background is in software, and she has a strong interest in User Experience (UX).

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TCUK17 Speaker Neil Perlin – “We’re Going Mobile! Great! Wait. What Does That Mean?”

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Neil Perlin will be presenting at TCUK17 on “We’re Going Mobile! Great! Wait. What Does That Mean?”

Photo of Neil Perlin

So you’re taking your documentation mobile. Great!

But just saying “mobile” is too vague. Is it an app? Responsive online help? Something else? And how might going mobile affect how you create content? Come to this presentation to find out.

We’ll look at three definitions of “mobile” – responsive design, “mobilized” online help, and apps –pros and cons and tools. We’ll then discuss changes to your documentation practices, such as greater syntactical rigor, eliminating local formatting, modifying or eliminating tables, and more.

You’ll leave this presentation with a solid understanding of your technical and workflow options for going mobile.

Neil Perlin is also doing a workshop at TCUK17: “Topic-Based and Structured Authoring – Keeping It Simple”

About Neil Perlin

Neil has 38 years experience in technical communication, 31 in development, training, and consulting for online formats and tools ranging from cutting edge to dead. He is certified for Flare, Mimic, RoboHelp, and ViziApps Studio and consults on them, along with single sourcing, structured authoring, and apps.

Neil was a columnist for STC and IEEE and is a popular conference speaker, recently at TCUK15. He ran STC’s Bleeding Edge, and represented STC to the W3C for four years. He has written eight books on computing, including Advanced Features in MadCap Flare 10 and Creating Mobile Apps without Coding.

In his spare time, Neil builds telescopes, flies aircraft carrier simulators, and barbecues meat. Contact him at nperlin@nperlin.cnc.net or on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter (@NeilEric).

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TCUK17 Speaker Danielle M. Villegas – “The Future of Mobile Learning”

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Danielle M. Villegas will be presenting at TCUK17 on “The Future of Mobile Learning”.

Photo of Danielle M. Villegas

This presentation will tie together how early efforts to create and promote literacy are tied to e-learning and how technology helped the evolution of that process, explain the basic concepts behind m-learning practices and instructional design, and provide evidence of efforts now being done to revise how m-learning is conducted on smart devices through current thought in the m-learning industry. While the main concepts here are geared towards instructional designers or help authors, anyone writing help documentation, or those wanting to write for mobile can learn the principles that can form the mindset needed to write mobile content.

About Danielle M. Villegas

Danielle M. Villegas is a technical communicator who has recently started her own consultancy, Dair Communications. She is best known in the technical communications world for her blog, TechCommGeekMom.com, which has flourished since its debut in 2012. She has presented webinars and seminars for Adobe, the Society for Technical Communication (STC), the IEEE ProComm, and at Drexel University’s eLearning Conference, as well as written articles for the STC Intercom, STC Notebook, the Content Rules blog, the InSyncTraining blog, and The Content Wrangler. You can learn more about Danielle on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @techcommgeekmom, through her blog, or daircomm.com.

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TCUK17 Speaker Alison Turner – “Topics for teenagers”

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Alison Turner will be presenting at TCUK17 on “Topics for teenagers”.

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This session will offer tips on constructing topics, based on the thesis that you will get this right if you imagine you are writing for a teenager.

Like my teenage sons, the users of my help and manuals are not fans of the beautifully constructed training course or the well-structured novel. Many never learned to use an index. They want ‘concise and speedy’ help, ideally without too much to read.

I will present examples of my work to illustrate the ways in which I have altered my style to deliver information to suit my users – taking a topic-based approach.

About Alison Turner

Alison Turner CEng CPhys MInstP MISTC trained at St John’s College Cambridge and Universität Heidelberg in Physics, then took a postgraduate certificate in Engineering Management.

Alison worked in technical consultancy before becoming a Project Manager for Racal Avionics. She led project management process initiatives and delivered business analysis of the project portfolio at Thales Aerospace UK.

For the last seven years Alison Turner has been the sole Technical Author and IMS Manager at Vocality, a telecommunications equipment manufacturer based in Surrey, which recently became part of Cubic Mission Solutions. She is responsible for both product and process documents.

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TCUK17 Speaker Robert Kratky – “Going Modular: Turning Legacy Docs into User-Story-Based Content”

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Robert Kratky will be presenting at TCUK17 on “Going Modular: Turning Legacy Docs into User-Story-Based Content”.

Photo of Robert Kratky

How to adapt the big guides of yesterday into modularized narratives that are easy to maintain, scale well, and still allow for a ‘guide-like’ experience when it is required? This presentation will describe the work documentation writers at Red Hat are doing to solve this problem: re-purposing the existing body of documentation into modular units that can be combined into user-story-based content. The talk will also outline how to leverage the modular structure of content to present it to users in a dynamic manner — using a metadata-based, hierarchical navigation.

About Robert Kratky

Robert Kratky is a Principal Technical Writer at Red Hat and a long-time contributor to open-source projects. He has published dozens of technical and outreach articles in both print and online media, and presented about documentation topics at open-source events. At Red Hat, Robert specializes on developer docs and improvement of user experience with documentation.

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TCUK 2017 Keynote Speaker – Michael Meng

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We are pleased to announce Michael Meng as a keynote speaker for TCUK 2017.

Michael Meng

Michael Meng is Vice Dean of the Faculty of Business Administration and Information Sciences at the Merseburg University of Applied Sciences (Germany).

Michael studied German linguistics and psycholinguistics at the University of Jena (Germany) and the University of Edinburgh. After completing his PhD on syntactic processing during reading in 1998, he worked as a technical writer and later on as department manager of documentation and localization for an international software company. In 2012, Michael was appointed Professor of Applied Linguistics at Merseburg University of Applied Science, where he now teaches courses on text analysis, text production, research methods and cognitive psychology in the B. Eng. and M. A. programs in Technical Communication. He is member of tekom Germany and presents regularly at conferences such as the European Academic Colloquium on Technical Communication, Write the Docs, or the annual tcworld/tekom conference.

Michael Meng’s keynote presentation is about Optimization strategies for API documentation.

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TCUK 2017 Keynote Speaker – Mike Hamilton

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We are pleased to announce Mike Hamilton as a keynote speaker for TCUK 2017.

Mike Hamilton

Topic-based Authoring – Is it for me?

Sometimes it can feel like everyone in the industry has made the transition to modular content creation, except you. Is this really true? Of course not. How can you decide if it is time to transition from a linear authoring process to a modular or topic-based process? What questions do you need to ask?

If you decide that you could benefit from a topic-based process then where do you begin? Do you start over? Can your existing content be reused? Beyond the content itself, will you need to approach the task of writing differently? Do you have any special content needs that would need to be addressed such as translation/localization requirements or heavy multimedia usage?

What about ongoing maintenance? How will a topic-based process change how you handle edits and content updates? What additional complexity will be introduced into the documentation process and how will it be managed?

These are all questions that Mr. Hamilton will address in this presentation. Transitioning to a modular content workflow can be very powerful or very frustrating. Asking the hard questions up front, and having good answers to those questions can help to ensure a successful transition.

Mike Hamilton will also be giving a presentation on “Five Cascading Style Sheet Techniques That Every Technical Writer Should Know”.

About Mike Hamilton

Mike Hamilton is the Vice President of Product Evangelism at MadCap Software. Prior to joining MadCap Software, he served as the Product Manager for Macromedia’s award-winning RoboHelp product line, where he gathered input and feedback from the customer community and guided ongoing development of the various RoboHelp products.

Mr. Hamilton has over twenty years of experience in training, technical communication, multimedia development, and software development at several organizations including MadCap Software, Macromedia, eHelp, Blue Sky Software, Cymer, a leading supplier of laser illumination sources to the semiconductor industry, National Steel & Shipbuilding and the US Navy.

Mr. Hamilton is often a featured speaker at industry events, including the STC (the Society for Technical Communication) Annual Conference, the annual TEKOM/TC World Conference in Germany, the annual SOAP Conference in Poland, the European Online Documentation Conferences, and many more events. Mr. Hamilton has also appeared at the Microsoft Campus and STC regional conferences and events.

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TCUK 2017 Keynote Speaker – Frances Gordon

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We are pleased to announce Frances Gordon as a keynote speaker for TCUK 2017.

Frances Gordon

Frances’ career started in rural South Africa where she wrote and designed educational materials for low literacy adults.

During her 20-year career, she has held tenures at Datatec/Logical as communications strategist, at London-based Siegel & Gale as Head of Content (EMEA), and at Barclaycard as VP of Content Strategy (UK).

Together with lawyer, Candice Burt, Frances co-founded Simplified, a plain-language and content training and consultancy firm. Its services include communication and content strategy, writing coaching, content audits, Treating Customers Fairly consultancy, and plain-language rewrites. Over 5 000 professionals, from lawyers to technical communicators, have benefited from the Simplified training programme.

Frances has worked on content for blue-chip international companies such as Alexander Forbes, MTN, Liberty Group, NS&I, Old Mutual and Vitality. She also has an active interest in financial inclusion programmes in frontier and emerging markets.
Frances sat on the board of international plain language organisation, PLAIN (Plain Language Association InterNational). She was part of the advisory committee of IC Clear, an EU-funded initiative that developed a post-graduate course in clear communication. She is an active member of Clarity in the UK, which is an organisation devoted to writing legal information clearly.

We’ll have more news from Frances Gordon in a later post.

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TCUK16 Speaker Rahel Anne Bailie – “Strategist, Consultant, Trusted Advisor: Which Are You and Why Does It Matter?”

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Rahel Anne Bailie will be presenting at TCUK16 on “Strategist, Consultant, Trusted Advisor: Which Are You and Why Does It Matter?”.

Rahel Anne Bailie

It’s been twenty years since the Cluetrain Manifesto changed the dynamic from pushing messages to our audiences into creating conversations. Now we’re more concerned about the type of conversations we have. Do we get the right kind of engagement with our audience? Do we provide a commoditised service, or do we operate as trusted advisors?

Rahel Bailie looks at the various names that we go by, and creates a map that shows the arteries and intersections of professional competencies, talents, skills, and other factors that round out our diverse set of professions.

About Rahel Anne Bailie

Rahel Anne Bailie, Chief Knowledge Office for Scroll, runs the content strategy practice and consults for clients with serious content challenges. She blends techniques from multiple disciplines to develop content strategies that have business impact. Rahel also teaches in the Content Strategy Master’s Program at FH-Joanneum, runs the Content, Seriously meetup, and is working on her third industry book: writing content for a structured authoring environment.

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TCUK16 Speaker Chris Hester – “Be The Captain of Your Career”

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Chris Hester will be giving a workshop at TCUK16: “Be The Captain of Your Career”.

Chris Hester
Chris Hester

Workshop: Be The Captain of Your Career

Have you ever applied for a job you really wanted, but didn’t get? Or perhaps you landed the job, but feel under compensated?

Chances are you made one (or several) mistakes that are hindering your job and career growth.

In this hands-on workshop you will learn:

  • The most common mistakes professionals make when looking for work—and how to avoid them
  • How to ace a tech comm interview using a portfolio
  • How to hone your workplace negotiation skills

Want a different job, more money, a better standard of living?

Don’t miss this workshop!

About Chris Hester

As an independent consultant and the founder of Red Desk Studio, Chris has delivered successful content strategy, training, and knowledge management projects to a variety of clients, including those in the advertising, construction management, entertainment, and healthcare industries.

Chris is an STC Fellow and has been actively involved in the technical communication community as a volunteer, academic mentor, and presenter at events such as the STC Summit, LavaCon, and BigDesign.

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Change of Keynote Speaker at TCUK 2016

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We are very sorry to announce that Jack Molisani is now unable to attend TCUK 2016.

His place as a keynote speaker will be filled by Ray Gallon. Ray is co-founder of The Transformation Society, a research and consulting company, and owner of Culturecom, a company that provides business process improvement through communication. Ray Gallon’s keynote presentation is on “Let Us Say ‘Yes’ to Our Presence Together in Chaos”, where he will help us glimpse ahead to how our industry is changing, even now, and how we need to adapt ourselves and our skills – for survival, for sanity, and for success in a world without documents.

Jack’s workshop will be run by Chris Hester.

Please see the programme page for other late-breaking changes to the conference programme.

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TCUK16 Speaker Ray Gallon – “Let Us Say ‘Yes’ to Our Presence Together in Chaos”

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Ray Gallon will be giving a keynote talk at TCUK16: “Let Us Say ‘Yes’ to Our Presence Together in Chaos”.

Ray Gallon
Ray Gallon

Technological change advances at a dizzying rate, we are all inundated with a host of names and acronyms that we can barely manage. We’re urged to “be creative” at the same time that we must follow orders. Information changes in the time it takes to verify it. Welcome to chaos!

You can fight against the tide, trying to make order, or you can accept that we will never know it all, will never master it all, but we can deal with it all.

One of the major currents in the maelstrom is called Industry 4.0, and its combination of Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things promises to totally change the way we live. Technical communicators will not be exempt. We’ll still need technical information, but we aren’t going to be producing it “the way we’ve always done it.”

We’re going to glimpse ahead to how our industry is changing, even now, and how we need to adapt ourselves and our skills – for survival, for sanity, and for success in a world without documents.

About Ray Gallon

Ray Gallon is co-founder of The Transformation Society, a research and consulting company, and owner of Culturecom, a company that provides business process improvement through communication. He has over 40 years as a communicator, first as an award-winning radio producer and journalist, then in the technical content industries. His management experience includes a stint as program manager of WNYC-FM, New York City’s public radio station.

Ray has always been interested in the meeting point between technology and culture, and has used his broad experience to advantage with companies such as IBM, General Electric Health Care, Alcatel, 3M, and the OECD, as well as in smaller companies and startup enterprises.

He has been quoted as saying, “Since the beginning, I have been, paradoxically, communicating and shooting myself in the foot. I find that this combination leads to fascinating outcomes that have made me one of the most fortunate people I know.”

Ray is a university lecturer and a speaker at events throughout the world. He has contributed articles and chapters to many books and periodicals and is the editor of the recently published “Language of Technical Communication” (XML Press).

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TCUK16 Speaker Andrew Head – “Can’t see it? Augment it! Creating and delivering content for Augmented Reality”

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Andrew Head will be presenting at TCUK16 on “Can’t see it? Augment it! Creating and delivering content for Augmented Reality”.

Andrew Head

Industry demand for Augmented Reality (AR) solutions grows by the day, and technical communicators are facing a challenge to provide this new rich media. So, how does an author create content for AR? Is it a new content type, is it a new system, is it new software or is this a whole new science?

Andrew will explore the technology, processes and purpose of creating content for AR distribution. By sharing examples of how content is authored in a Content Management System, and how cloud content distribution platforms are the enabler for AR technical communication solutions.

About Andrew Head

Andrew Head from Semcon leads the development of new business and new solutions in the United Kingdom. Andrew’s co-operation with product manufacturers, systems developers and service providers affords him a unique insight into the needs, ambitions and challenges associated with the creation and distribution of content that resolves problems, drives greater product utilisation and delivers innovative, high quality user experiences.

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TCUK16 Speaker Darren Mitcham – “It all started with BS-4884”

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Darren Mitcham will be presenting at TCUK16 on “It all started with BS-4884: the courses, colleagues, and copy that have characterised my 20-year career as a technical communicator”.

Darren Mitcham

As a failing electronic engineer for Marconi in my first job after university, I jumped at the chance to write a manual for our first ever consumer (rather than military) product. I stumbled rather fortuitously on BS-4884 – the British standard for technical authors – and I knew at that point I had found my true vocation in life. Over the subsequent 20 years, I have benefitted from numerous courses and workshops, and read countless books and papers. I will share my experiences to highlight which ones I recommend for technical communicators and which ones to avoid.

About Darren Mitcham

I am a senior technical author at Intel. I used to work for a small American electronics company for 17 years, but our 2,000 employees were very recently subsumed into Intel’s 133,000.

I live and work in High Wycombe. I play Hammond organs, attend many classic car rallies, collect classic car brochures and manuals (mainly to see how the use of technical English has evolved).

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TCUK16 Speakers Sean Marlow and Sally Haywood – “From Technical Communicator to Instructional Designer”

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Sean Marlow and Sally Haywood, from our TCUK16 sponsor Capita TI, will be giving a vendor presentation at TCUK16 on “From Technical Communicator to Instructional Designer”.

Sean Marlow
Sally Haywood

Sally Haywood and Sean Marlow delve into the world of eLearning. See how the landscape could change for you. Communication is at the heart of Instructional Design, but what other qualities would you need to cross that bridge? Are the roles and responsibilities distinct or complementary? Will a new title raise your profile? Understand more about the hot topics in eLearning from social and mobile learning to gamification. Learn about authoring techniques for compliance and branding as well as giving your learners that all-round great user experience.

About Sean Marlow and Sally Haywood

Sean Marlow has over 25 years’ experience in the translation industry, specialising in software and user assistance localisation. Dedicated to the cause, he even married a freelance translator, though training his dogs to be bi-lingual was deemed a step too far.

Sally Haywood has over 20 years’ experience in the translation industry and specialises in the localization of software and eLearning. She lives in North Yorkshire with her husband, 3 daughters and very playful young dog.

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TCUK16 Speaker Sarah Richards – “From bit-of-a-scaredy-cat to banning words for the UK government” and “Using evidence and data to have tricky conversations”

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Sarah Richards will be giving a keynote presentation and a workshop at TCUK16: “From bit-of-a-scaredy-cat to banning words for the UK government” and “Using evidence and data to have tricky conversations”.

Sarah Richards
Sarah Richards

Keynote: From bit-of-a-scaredy-cat to banning words for the UK government

Sarah started in a quiet team of editors and ended up banning Whitehall from using their favourite jargon on GOV.UK. Sarah will explain her journey from having to publish whatever lawyers and policy people said to running an agency that will only take on work if the process is agile and user-centred. It’s a tale of tears, sugar, late night pizza, not many kittens and tea*.

* plus how she introduces user-centred content into organisations.

Workshop: Using evidence and data to have tricky conversations

If you have to go through an approval process for your content and you often have a… difference… of opinion with the approver, you might like Sarah’s workshop. Sarah can show you how to have conversations using data and research to back up your arguments. You’ll also learn how to have these conversations without getting into a ‘them vs us’ situation.

About Sarah Richards

Content strategist, digital consultant, and former Head of Content Design for GDS. Sarah has led high-performing, award winning, agile teams, and has a longer and more varied editorial career than she cares to admit.

Sarah started in a quiet team of editors and ended up banning Whitehall from using their favourite jargon on GOV.UK. Sarah will explain her journey from having to publish whatever lawyers and policy people said to running an agency that will only take on work if the process is agile and user-centred.

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TCUK16 Speaker Jack Molisani – “Seven Career Lessons I Learned From Selling Ginsu Knives” and “Be The Captain of Your Career”

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Jack Molisani will be giving a keynote talk and a workshop at TCUK16: “Seven Career Lessons I Learned From Selling Ginsu Knives” and “Be The Captain of Your Career”.

Jack Molisani
Jack Molisani

Keynote: Seven Career Lessons I Learned From Selling Ginsu Knives

In the mid 1990s I was laid off from my position as a Sales Engineer at a leading technology company. The US economy was in recession and I spent months trying to find a new engineering position.

A friend who owned a company that sold Ginsu knives in home and garden shows needed a temporary worker for the summer. She knew I was unemployed and offered me the position. I instantly accepted the offer, glad just to be working.

I ended up loving that summer job. Not only did I get to travel, I learned some life- and career-changing skills along the way.

By the end of the summer the economy started to improve and I landed a position as technical writer. I eventually started my own technical writing and staffing company.

What started out as “just” a temp job for the summer turned into a major turning point in my career.

Want to take your career to the next level?

Master these seven lessons I learned from selling Ginsu knives and watch your career and income soar!

Workshop: Be The Captain of Your Career

Have you ever applied for a job you really wanted, but didn’t get? Or perhaps you landed the job, but feel under compensated?

Chances are you made one (or several) mistakes that are hindering your job and career growth.

In this hands-on workshop you will learn:

  • The most common mistakes professionals make when looking for work—and how to avoid them
  • How to ace a tech comm interview using a portfolio
  • How to hone your workplace negotiation skills

Want a different job, more money, a better standard of living?

Don’t miss this workshop!

About Jack Molisani

Jack Molisani is the author of Be The Captain of Your Career: A New Approach to Career Planning and Advancement, which hit #5 on Amazon’s Career and Resume Best Seller list.

Jack also produces the LavaCon Conference on Content Strategy and Technical Communication Management, and is the president of ProSpring Technical Staffing, an employment agency specializing in content professionals.

You can follow him on Twitter @JackMolisani or reach him at Jack@ProspringStaffing.com.

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TCUK16 Speaker Irit Arkin – “Advanced interrogation techniques: Extracting information from engineers”

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Irit Arkin will be presenting at TCUK16 on “Advanced interrogation techniques: Extracting information from engineers”.

Irit Arkin
Irit Arkin

As technical writers, the best source of information we have is engineers: friendly, chatty colleagues who possess all the knowledge we need on a particular topic.

Good luck getting that knowledge out of them, of course.
Over the years, as both software tester and technical writer, I’ve had the chance to succeed – and fail – at asking engineers sensible questions and ensuring comprehensible answers. My TCUK talk will highlight some of the best and worst techniques I’ve employed to gently elicit information out of engineers.

About Irit Arkin

Irit Arkin extracts information from engineers in ARM’s Internet of Things Business Unit. Before that, she moved between writing and software testing for startups, with the occasional foray into spec writing and one (accidental) adventure in project management.

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TCUK16 Speaker Louise Fahey – “Mapping your path in tech comms: Surviving the early years”

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Louise Fahey will be presenting at TCUK16 on “Mapping your path in tech comms: Surviving the early years”.

Louise Fahey

Mapping your path in tech comms: Surviving the early years
Are you a newbie to tech comms? Or are you a tech comms expert charged with the training and development of a newbie? If so, this presentation is for you!

Using my first two years working in tech comms as a reference, I will share tips and tricks that are key to the development of new starters in the field.

This includes advice for breaking into technical communication, entering the profession from a non-technical background, getting over the steep learning curve at the beginning, the key skills you should focus on developing, as well as much more!

About Louise Fahey

Louise Fahey is a Technical Author at Clearswift, based in Reading, UK. She holds an LLB degree in Law Plus and a first-class honours degree in Technical Writing, both from the University of Limerick, Ireland.

Louise is a member of the ISTC, as well as Copy Editor of InfoPlus+, the monthly online newsletter from the ISTC. She is a big fan of MadCap Flare and all things Agile. Louise is also passionate about end-user experience and usability.

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TCUK16 Speakers Deborah Stevens and John Spenceley – “Asking the right questions for product management – knowledge management for an unstructured world”

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Deborah Stevens and John Spenceley will be presenting at TCUK16 on “Asking the right questions for product management – knowledge management for an unstructured world”.

Deborah Stevens
Deborah Stevens
John Spenceley
John Spenceley

Learning to ask the right questions is the starting point to gather and store data. Analysis interprets data to begin our understanding journey along different routes. We can have very different analysis outcomes and documentation needs from travelling these different routes. Product Management includes customer focus and optimum profit. Product Management is a possible career development step for technical communicators. Technology push and scientific description could just be about ‘what’ and limits ‘why’ to how the science and technology works perhaps a more traditional Project Management role. Different focuses require unique journeys through the data.

We structure each output for our unique journey from the same data sets, so organising unstructured material in a logical framework can be a challenge. How can we achieve that?

We will share some key ideas to help your questioning techniques, data collection, organisation and output focus.

About Deborah Stevens

Deborah Stevens is a technical and business communicator and product manager. Deb is a former science advisory teacher who created training rollout material, she has written and illustrated documents for change management and strategy development, manufacturing, operation and maintenance instructions, technical specifications, test scripts and reports. She has worked for large and small companies. Deb is passionate about changing the limiting ‘method, result and conclusion’ often used without exception in science lessons. Where is the content ‘applications where this idea is useful’ and ‘how much does it cost to make x using our equipment?’ A few innovative educators are making a difference. She is also passionate about bringing more innovative ideas to market.

About John Spenceley

John Spenceley is a business analyst and product manager and has an IT management background. He has worked with senior management in British Rail, Thomsons and in the public sector as well as guiding small businesses and technology spin out companies to bring new products to market.

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TCUK16 Speaker Stefan Gentz – “How intelligent information is going to change the world”

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Stefan Gentz, from our TCUK16 Diamond sponsor Adobe, will be giving a vendor presentation at TCUK16 on “How intelligent information is going to change the world”.

Stefan Gentz

The future of technical communication is all about intelligent information. And it’s a hot topic at conferences around the world and the German tekom is even creating an international standard around it. But what does that mean, “intelligent information”?

In this presentation, Adobe Worldwide TechComm Evangelist Stefan Gentz will introduce you to the concept of intelligent information and why we need to change to create technical content that opens up all doors to the future, and what Adobe offers to make it possible. He will explain what we can do to deliver multi-layered, technical content to all communication channels for a mobile and connected world and the Internet of Things, and discuss how to successfully make the shift from technical documentation to technical communication as a marketing tool. He will explain Adobe’s vision for the future and guide you through the Adobe’s new end-to-end Technical Communication ecosystem.

About Stefan Gentz

As the Global Evangelist for Technical Communication at Adobe, Stefan’s mission is to inspire enterprises and technical writers around the world and show how to create compelling technical communication content with the Adobe TCS tools.

Stefan is also a certified Quality Management Professional (TÜV), ISO 9001 / EN 15038 auditor, ISO 31000 Risk Management expert and Six Sigma Champion.

Stefan is a popular speaker and moderator on conferences such as tekom, tcworld, Intelligent Content Conference, Congility, LocWorld, TCUK, STC, GALA, ELIA, and many others. He is also a member of the Conference Advisory Board of the world’s biggest TechComm event, the tekom / tcworld Conferences and an Ambassador for the Globalization and Localization Association (GALA). He is also an active social networker on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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TCUK16 Speaker Adrian Warman – “From what was, to what might be: Matching career and practice trajectories”

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Adrian Warman will be speaking at TCUK16 on “From what was, to what might be: Matching career and practice trajectories”.

Adrian Warman

Technical communication today is very different to what it was ten years ago. Can we look back briefly at what has changed in technical communication, and identify some common trends that might guide us as aspiring or experienced professionals in the future? What are the skill and experience expectations, and how have they developed?

In particular, this presentation will address: The pendulum of progress, Optimising skills trajectory, and Secret but essential skills.

The presentation will provide the audience with a simple self-evaluation tool to help guide their career path development.

About Adrian Warman

Adrian has been with IBM for fifteen years, and works as an Information Development lead for the Application Platform Services division.

This means he gets to work with all sorts of cool stuff, like applications and mobile tools, and write about them, too.

Before joining IBM, he worked in the telecommunications and retail banking sectors. He began his career as a University Lecturer, researching Information Systems and Computer Security. He maintains active links with universities, and is a Visiting Fellow at Bournemouth University.

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TCUK16 Speaker John Garison – “Making Agile Work for YOU!”

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John Garison will be speaking at TCUK16 on “Making Agile Work for YOU!”

John Garison

Agile, scrums, backlogs, user stories, sprints…What’s it all about? What do I need to know? And what’s in it for me?

Regardless of the Agile realities at your organization, you can learn to navigate murky waters, get the information you need, and use the Agile method to iteratively produce better, stronger, more useful documentation to support your customers.

Whether your organization is considering a move to Agile or you’re already up to your elbows in backlogs and user stories, you’ll learn some new perspectives, and leave with a better understanding of how you can make Agile work for you.

About John Garison

John Garison is Lead Technical Communicator for Medidata Solutions. His experience in writing about operating systems, programming languages, business applications, and electronic health records (among other things) gives him a unique perspective on most things documentation-related. He delights in sharing information and war stories.

John is an STC Associate Fellow and taught technical writing at Harvard University and the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.

Despite living on a dead-end dirt road in rural Vermont, his gigabit fiber optic internet lets him keep up with the real world and telecommute to New York City.
See https://www.linkedin.com/in/johngarison for his complete CV.

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TCUK16 Speaker Simon Anstey – “Eliminating Support Tickets”

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Simon Anstey will be speaking at TCUK16 on “Eliminating Support Tickets”.

Simon Anstey

Organizations can be oblivious to the business value of good documentation, and thus overlook its strategic importance. That’s a missed opportunity – and frustrating for us. To change things, we need to show what the value added is. But that’s not easy to quantify.

Our team looked for – and found – a way to improve things. We began collaborating with customer support to improve the documentation for some critical products. This stemmed the flow of support tickets. We estimated the resultant cost savings – and started gaining management’s interest.

This presentation is for writers and managers who would like to evince similar changes.

About Simon Anstey

Simon Anstey leads a team of 25 tech writers at SAP, the world’s largest provider of enterprise application software. The team provides user assistance for 60 country versions of the software.
Simon believes that a collaborative approach to software and user-assistance development benefits customers, employees and profitability, and is currently working with SAP’s support teams to eliminate support tickets through better user assistance.

Simon studied German at Manchester. He has been working in user assistance at SAP in Germany for 22 years, the last 12 in management. In his spare time, he’s an oboist and loves gardening.

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TCUK16 Speaker Alison Reeves – “How to Write a Case Study”

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Alison Reeves will be giving a workshop at TCUK16 on “How to Write a Case Study”.

Alison Reeves

When writing bids, proposals and tenders, writers have to provide case studies to evidence their knowledge and experience. They are also used on websites to demonstrate expertise and in sales situations to evidence benefits. I have created case studies in every business sector from childcare to nuclear submarines!

Your clients’ success stories are a major asset to your business. They describe how you work together, and how your product or service solves a problem. Come along to this very interactive workshop and learn the knack to writing a successful case study. Bring along your laptop and you will go away with a sample case study and a template to use in the future. We will work through the template on the day, and discuss what content, graphics and layout works best. Never feel at a loss again if you are asked to write a case study in the future.

About Alison Reeves

Alison is an experienced freelance technical communicator with a career in documentation spanning over 30 years. She currently specialises in all forms of persuasive writing, helping organisations to write Bids, Tenders and Proposals in addition to writing persuasive copy for websites. Both of these specialisms involve writing case studies to showcase the knowledge and experience of the business. Customers include Microsoft, Fujitsu, Tata, Shell, Siemens, Balfour Beatty Construction, Xerox, Compass Group, Housing Associations and as well as local businesses and charities. Alison is also a creator and trainer of business writing training and a member of the ISTC.

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TCUK16 Speaker Jörg Plöger – “How German Manufacturers Create Technical Documentation with ST4 DocuManager”

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Jörg Plöger, from our TCUK16 sponsor SCHEMA, will be giving a vendor presentation at TCUK16 on “How German Manufacturers Create Technical Documentation with ST4 DocuManager”.

Jörg Plöger

To succeed on a global market, manufacturers have to be flexible, offer different variants, be present in many markets, etc. All these challenges have an impact on the way technical documentation needs to be provided.

Whether it is about localization to three dozen languages, handling variants on different granularity levels, publishing efficiently to different output channels, not getting lost in XML details, etc. ST4 DocuManager offers such features as a ready-to-use solution for technical documentation.

See in a live presentation how more than 100 German and Swiss manufacturers use ST4 DocuManager on a daily basis for

  • Modularizing documents in a simple and effective way
  • Handling variants with different degrees of granularity
  • Localizing into multiple languages
  • Publishing efficiently without scripting in/(into) different formats
  • Integrating MS Word as authoring tool in a 100% XML environment

SCHEMA has gained expertise by having worked for more than 20 years with over 300 industrial customers around the world such as Siemens, Bosch, Philips, Daimler, General Electric, Toyota, MAN, ABB, Lufthansa, Bombardier, Agilent, Sagem, Ericsson, Carl Zeiss, Voith, SEW Eurodrive, Enercon, Senvion, INA Schaeffler, Doppelmayr, etc.

About Jörg Plöger

Jörg Plöger studied mathematics. He has worked in technical communication in a wide variety of industries for more than 20 years. As consultant and trainer, he has travelled around Europe many times. Since 2000, Jörg Plöger has been working in the software industry (Translation Memory Systems (TMS) and Content Management Systems (CMS)). He is sales representative of SCHEMA and based in Bremen, Northern Germany.

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TCUK16 Speaker Toni Ressaire – “Mobilize Your Content: Create EPUBs and Kindle Books”

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Toni Ressaire will be giving a workshop at TCUK16 on “Mobilize Your Content: Create EPUBs and Kindle Books”.

Toni Ressaire

eBooks are not just for reading sci-fi. Why not publish your tech docs for tablets, iPad, and mobile phones?
eBooks are designed for responsive reading devices. It makes sense to publish in formats that offer a pleasant mobile reading experience.

In this hands-on workshop, you will go from Microsoft Word doc to ebook. We’ll start by looking at issues related to creating ebooks, such as file types and device rendering. Then we’ll create an ePUB and Kindle ebook. Finally, you’ll test your ebook. We’ll explore ebook creation software, such as MadCap Flare, Oxygen, Adobe InDesign, FrameMaker and others.

Attendees should bring a laptop computer loaded with a fully-licensed or trial version of Adobe FrameMaker (2015 Release), and the KindleGen plugin, which can be downloaded for free at Amazon.

Optional:

  • Kindle Previewer 2
  • Readium for Chrome
  • Adobe Digital Editions 4.5.1
  • About Toni Ressaire

    Toni is a technical communicator/trainer and indie publisher. After working primarily in the software development industry, she now has some rather non-traditional uses for traditional tech comm tools. She provides training for tech writers and technically-challenged writers who want to create traditional pubs and digital content. Toni blogs about digital publishing at pub.ink and tweets at @Route11eBooks. She has a masters level degree in Technical and Scientific communication from a U.S. university. Toni is an American living in the South of France.

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TCUK16 Speaker Leanne Visser – “And… Action! How to get started with creating instructional videos on a budget”

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Leanne Visser will be presenting at TCUK16 on “And… Action! How to get started with creating instructional videos on a budget”.

Leanne Visser

Is your Online Help wordy and bulky? Is your manager asking for videos, because no one reads manuals? Is it easier to show a workflow instead of documenting it?

Videos are a great tool to reach users: they have a high visual appeal and wow-factor. People like them: over 50% of internet traffic consists of video.

This session is an introduction in making your own instructional videos, focusing on getting started with recording and editing that first video.

Leanne will include lessons learned at Medicore, where they implemented a video curriculum from scratch, so you won’t make the same mistakes!

About Leanne Visser

Leanne is the sole technical communicator at Medicore, a Dutch Healthcare IT company. Being passionate about stories, she studied English Language & Literature.

Her career started with editing and writing articles for catalogues at auction house Christie’s. She traded art for Healthcare IT to become a translator/Project Manager at Epic, and hasn’t looked back.

At Medicore she is in the process of changing the traditional written Online Help into a modern and user friendly documentation suite containing a mix of help texts, Quick Reference Guides and instruction videos.

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TCUK16 Speaker Brian Lanigan – “Becoming an Expert by Always Being a Beginner”

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Brian Lanigan will be presenting at TCUK16 on “Becoming an Expert by Always Being a Beginner”.

Brian Lanigan

It’s comfortable to develop skills slowly, but you don’t know what you can do until you’re really challenged.

This talk discusses a project in which two technical writers implemented an XML authoring environment for their team. Instead of writing, the job involved configuration, information architecture, graphic design, and technical support. It was difficult—sometimes frustrating—but they succeeded.

This talk is not by an ‘expert’. It will reassure beginners of all levels that the way to get better is to tackle your limitations.

Because it’s okay to say, ‘I don’t know…’ if you follow with, ‘…but let’s figure it out.’

About Brian Lanigan

Brian Lanigan is a senior technical writer with TWi, a provider of outsourced technical writing, editing, and documentation solutions based in Cork, Ireland. It suits him just fine: the wide range of clients means there’s always something new to learn.

In the past, he worked as an information developer at SAP Ireland. He also spent some time working in the advertising world, which shares a surprising amount of technique with technical communication.

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