Content Strategy

Interviewing subject matter experts: The soft skills are the hardest part

Posted by James Dunn on Jul 21, 2015 4:31:52 PM

Most people in the field of technical communications would agree that successful technical writing involves a great deal of collaboration: with subject matter experts (SMEs), project managers, high-level reviewers, and, of course, editors, peer reviewers, graphic artists, and other specialists, depending on the size and scope of the project and team.

But I’d go even further and claim that technical writing is a social endeavor. Particularly in a medium-to-large organization, the skills you’ll be using the most are communication (especially oral and real-time), negotiation, persuasion, and psychology. And perhaps nowhere are these so-called soft skills more critical than when you’re first introduced to the SMEs you’ll be relying on for the bulk of the information in your content.

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Topics: SMEs, engagement and retention, Interviewing, Soft Skills

On Story in Learning

Posted by Brandon Carson on Mar 19, 2014 2:00:00 AM

Many of us wrestle with what makes story in learning most effective for our audiences. We all love stories – they’re the essence of humanity. Using stories effectively in training involves engaging the learners and taking them on a journey that offers them three components: relevance, meaning, and interaction.


o   This is often the hardest component. If you want to grab the learners and pull them in, conceive of a situation they can identify with. They don’t necessarily need to understand it at first, but it must be conceivable in their mind. If you’re speaking to an audience of plumbers, they’re not going to easily identify with a situation that involves flowers...unless you let them know they need to set up an irrigation system for a floral designer. Is it something they do in the real world? On the other hand, if you have a difficult time making a real-world situation exciting, you can require the plumbers to fix the plumbing system on a space rover on Mars.

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Topics: content strategy, learning and development, mlearning, elearning, training, online training, Brandon Carson, training and development, SMEs, engaging learners, online learning, translation services