Although my first passion is technical writing, recently I’ve been developing video skills as well. I am excited to share Another New York Love Affair #25 with you:
I took this footage of the “Sterling Cooper” building in my final week in New York, at the end of March. At the time I was midway through watching Mad Men on Netflix, and in love with the cast of characters. Also in love with New York, and the beautiful strangeness of Madison Avenue. Enjoy!
THEY’RE UBIQUITOUS. People—especially technical writers—love their smartphones the world over, from Vancouver to New York, and the smombies are among us! Yes, the smartphone zombies are among us! You’ve seen them—people walking slowly, looking down at their phones, oblivious to their surroundings, possibly risking an accident—an increasingly common social phenomenon.
To smombies, the content on their phones seems more interesting than real life. I did a one-minute video of a New York subway platform, and almost everyone on the platform was looking at their phones while waiting for the train. The situation is becoming extreme. But I understand, because I’m addicted to my smartphone, too! It seems like fun, not work, to learn on a smartphone instead of a computer. So how can we use this technology to teach?
The idea is to design short training pieces that can be delivered via your app or website. Keep the training sessions to 10 minutes or less. Make the training tasks interactive, so people can use the fun features of their smartphones. Deliver some of your content using video—people just love watching video!
Instructional Video Design Tips
Here are some tips for designing effective videos for learning:
Include a title slide for orientation
Use high resolution (1080P HD)
Include still pictures—both iconic (resembling
real objects) and analytic (symbolizing objects
Include short on-screen texts—labels, call-outs,
short text slides
Facilitate closed captions and subtitling—create
your own or use YouTube’s automated features
Include background music
Eliminate unpleasant background noise (electronic
hums, static, and so on)
Use a speaking rate of 180 words per minute
(faster is more popular than slower)
These 8 tips adapted from Petra ten Hove and Hans van der Meij’s research (2015).
I’ve written previously about the Information Interview Service that I created for the STC’s Canada West Coast chapter. Our chapter won a Pacesetter Award for this service, which pairs aspiring technical writers with experienced technical writers. I published an article about this service in Intercom, the professional technical writing journal of the STC, and both the New York Metro chapter and the Chicago chapter implemented similar services. So now if you would like to talk to a senior technical writer about what is involved in joining our technical writing profession, you have three choices:
BTW, the New York Metro chapter also won a Pacesetter Award for their Talk to a Professional service, and the Chicago chapter won a Pacesetter Award the year they implemented their service as well. I am delighted that my idea bore such wonderful fruit for technical writers across the continent!
Great news! The Canada West Coast chapter of the Society for Technical Communication is offering a new service to the technical writing community in Vancouver.
The information interview service connects volunteer senior technical writers with people who are requesting information interviews, whether they are tech writing students who are required to do interviews for their programs, or people considering entering the field of technical writing.
The service offers a 30- to 60-minute interview (length is at the discretion of the senior writer). It could be in person or on the phone, depending on what the two people decide.
This service gives new writers access to some of the best technical writers in Vancouver, and gives you a chance to get an insider’s view of the field of technical writing, current market conditions, what type of skills are needed, what employers are looking for, what rates to charge, and anything else you have been wanting to know.
The chapter won an STC Pacesetter award for this service, for the contribution it has made to the Society for Technical Communication through innovative community operations. I published an article on the mentorship aspect of the information interview service in Intercom, the professional journal of the Society for Technical Communication.