Teaching Technical Communication – Innovative Methods

Technical communication refers to a type of communication helping users to do certain tasks or goals. The main idea behind technical communication is to help people needing specific information for completing specific tasks or using products. So, technical writing or communication allows businesses to become more consumer and product-oriented, to set proper goals and understand tasks, and to provide a background so that employers can also get new ideas.

This means that technical communication is not restricted to instructions and manuals; it could be communication through technology like web pages or help files, communication on technical topics, or instructions in the form of a document on ways to use products. So, the ultimate goal is to build user-centered products which will give relevant information in a clear way. Every time you open an app or watch how-to videos, you are interacting with someone in this field.

What are some key technical communication products?

The products that can be created through technical communication can be classified into 3 types:

  • Products for conveying information like audio narration, annual reports, documentaries, grant proposals, conference presentations, technical illustrations, scientific articles, etc.
  • Products for training like e-learning, animation, how-to-videos, patient education videos, FAQs, training courses and manuals, wiki pages, etc.
  • Marketing products like brochures and catalogs, advertisements, product demos and packaging, storyboard, websites, etc.

While the written technical communication follows discrete lines, the video and audio communication spreads across all three areas. So, web-based training will give you relevant information and also offer add-on products to users.

How can you achieve proficiency in technical communication?

To do technical writing you have to know how to write effectively because information has to be designed for catering to the needs of a specific audience. So, technical communication professionals may have to work hand in hand with people from other fields and they must heed to their advice, inputs, and clarify their doubts to move ahead. They have to practice both active listening and active speaking to put forward their ideas to diverse audiences. So, it is imperative that critical thinking is used for technical communication. The professional must be able to analyze data, situations, and options so that a project can achieve its goal.

It is also essential to have specific skills for specialties. For example, for those who want to learn technical writing, it is necessary to know how to use spreadsheet software or word processing programs. For those keen to create video and audio products it is important to have expertise in animation, photo and video editing, vector drawing, and presentations. People come into this field of technical communication from various other fields and are likely to have limited experience. They are then keen to upgrade their skills to learn new technical communication programs. You can take advantage of many new skills through self-paced learning on websites like Lynda.com or Bright TALK. Besides, software companies offer training, sometimes free of cost and at times against a fee. This means that even after you may have earned a master’s degree, your development will keep happening throughout this career. That is true for any career but most prominent in technical communication as innovations are rapid here. To keep pace, it may be a good idea to join professional organizations that provide resources and training for this.