A Guide To Fundamentals Of Technical Communication Skills
Under the larger field of technical communication, technical writing is much needed in the era of Information technology and several booming industries. Technical communication is simply explaining a complex process. A whole range of skills and characteristics are required for technical writing.
What is Technical Communication?
Technical communication is the method of producing and sharing concepts and data in organizations. The innumerable types of communication such as letters, emails, instructions, status reports, project proposals, websites, and blogs are all part of technical writing.
The goal of technical communication is to create easily comprehensible information for a target specific audience. Product descriptions, user manuals, white papers, journal articles, and government documents, all of these are technical communications.
Technical communication is required in several fields. Medical, Engineering, Education, Research and Training, Sales, Banking and Insurance, Information Technology, and more. In other words, there is no industry where technical communication is not required or used. Technical communication can also be called technical writing.
Why Technical Writing?
Everywhere we see, there are lots of gadgets, do-it-yourself material, a never-ending stream of banking and financial reports, medical recommendations, and so on. All the reports are easy to understand. Have you ever had great difficulty reading your bank statements or an instruction manual on how to use a trimmer? I hope not. Let us walk through how these documents are prepared. Understand what goes into developing all the technical communication.
Like creative writing, academic writing, conventional writing, technical writing is also one form of writing. In any profession, when technical information is conveyed in writing, it is called technical writing. At times the information is very complex that it is difficult for non-technical persons.
Jargon, we often refer to in medical and engineering fields. However, this information has to flow through easily for the benefit of the management team, finance team, and end-users. Technical writers transform the complicated jargon into easy-to-understand layman words. Read on to understand what are the fundamentals of technical communication skills.
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6 Fundamentals of Technical Communication Skills
Not everyone who is technically strong can communicate in clear language for the benefit of readers. Good skills are necessary for the same. Excellent writing abilities are the key to good technical communications, or for that matter, any type of writing. The fundamentals of technical communication skills are
Understanding the audience
Whom are you writing for? Is it for a colleague, as part of a reference document, or for training new joiners? Is it for the management or the sales team? Is it for the customer? Understanding the audience is the foremost in the fundamentals of technical communication skills. Expressing the content such that the reader can easily relate to the same is the key to technical writing.
Assume you are writing a manual for the Do-it-yourself electrical fixture.
One must start by first identifying and labeling each part in a sequence. A clear diagram of the different parts is most recommended. Next is guiding the user step by step through small and easy steps. Support each step with a picture, highlighting the step in question. And finally, produce a picture of the completed product.
Step into the shoes of the consumer and accordingly start writing the technical communication.
A doctor however qualified cannot construct a bridge. Similarly, a person with an engineering background will find it difficult to write a medical document. Basic technical knowledge is the next of the fundamentals of technical communication skills. Get to know the basics in whichever field you are writing for. It will surely help you to write better
A strong technical writer has to have good communication skills. As a technical writer, you will be interacting and working along with different teams or individuals. Being an attentive listener is imperative to be a good technical writer. The ability to listen, record, and communicate is essential. Excellent communication skills are important for a technical writer.
Must Read: Top 10 Technical Writing courses in India
For few people writing skills are inherited, and some acquire the habit of writing. These days with more and more educational institutions focusing on creativity and imagination; kids as young as 7 start writing. Anyone with an interest can read online or attend a workshop about the fundamentals of technical communication skills to polish their skills.
If you are interested, you can do a professional course in content writing or technical writing and enhance your skills. IIMSkills offers one of the best online content writing courses at reasonable fees. Check out the details here.
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There are other institutes offering content writing courses like Udemy and Coursera.
Many institutes offer online and regular courses in professional technical writing. A typical technical writing course skills facilitate how to communicate obtained information through a process of technical and practical work.
As part of the technical writing course, you will learn about different technical articles and reports, statements, and graphs. A technical writer should be well skilled in writing laboratory reports, status reports, research reports, design and feasibility reports, financial progress reports, marketing reports.
You can not only pursue technical writing but also try other avenues in content writing like academic writing, business writing, and creative writing. Details of institutes offering technical writing courses are given in the next part of the article.
Before you write for anything, do thorough research. Good content is the result of complete research. Technical Knowledge combined with excellent research skills is very much needed if you wish to be a technical writer. Writing, similar to learning is a continuous process.
Refer to relevant material, previous documents, case studies, consider various reports to write exceptionally. Research helps you to answer possible questions by the consumer. As mentioned earlier, research according to your audience’s needs and deliver well-designed and well-documented content.
There is a world beyond pen and paper. Unlike a few decades back, we have many tools at our disposal to make writing an art. There are tools to check your sentences, to avoid repetitive words/sentences. to verify the readability of the audience.
There are tools to make your content into videos, to add graphs, pie charts, diagrams to your documents. Some of the popular tools are available for free, and some are available on monthly charges. These tools are immensely useful while you do technical writing. Being able to work with writing tools is one of the fundamentals of technical communication skills.
Steps in Technical Writing
Now that we have seen the fundamentals of technical communication skills let us go through the step-by-step process of writing a technical document. Answering the questions What? When? Why? How? Who? gives us very detailed information on what will our document/article look like. It will also help in recognizing the end-user and their needs.
As a technical writer, you have to first understand what is the scope of the document you are going to write. What is the type of information to be conveyed? Is it going to be an elaborate write-up, as a user manual, or is it a communication highlighting the summary of a week’s status.
Understand the topic
Ask, research, and write. Get a thorough comprehension of the subject in the discussion. If you do not have adequate knowledge in that area, study and research on the same. Invest time in studying the topic. Make notes, keep references handy. Go through tutorials, previous documents, and case studies. Get the facts and numbers in place. Understand the frequently asked questions and plan your document such that these questions are addressed.
Create a framework. It could be simple headings or even bullet points. The outline should typically flow from the beginning to the end in a seamless manner. The continuity of the topic must be felt at all times. The reader must be able to completely understand through this one document.
Hence it is important for the reader to easily follow the document. Start with a draft outline. You can edit a couple of times before you finalize the framework. Ensure that all the important and relevant points are highlighted.
With the outline as your guide, begin with the document, communicating all the details. Providing flawless information to the reader is crucial to your document. The document should contain all the statistics, facts, and other details required. The reports must be supported by numbers, graphs, pie charts, where ever applicable. All the questions as per the target audience must be addressed.
Technical Writing Courses
There are both online and offline courses in the market. There are always advantages and disadvantages associated with any type of learning. Read on to find the benefits and drawbacks of both.
The pandemic has made virtual learning a reality all over the world. In online classes, you can attend the classes from the comfort of your home. Faculties from different places come together to facilitate learning. In most classes, you get the recordings of the classes too, so that you can refer whenever needed. The only drawback is you are dependent on the internet and the gadget to attend the class. In my opinion, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages where online classes are concerned.
Nothing beats human interaction, face-to-face communications, and friendly sessions. Doubts can be answered immediately. Fellow students can also share their inputs. Students can develop a network among themselves and with the faculty. Regular or offline classes are particular to a city, location. Only people residing in that location can join those courses. Expert opinion from professionals across the globe is not possible.
Individuals choosing technical writing as a career will need some formal training to help them acquire a job. Even people with experience need to be aware of the latest trends, learn new tools and keep up to date in their field.
Let us go through some technical writing courses available online in the market.
IIM Skills is a leading ed-tech institution providing online education in India. There are several courses offered by the institute like Content Writing Course, Digital Marketing Course, GST Course, and Technical Writing. The course is conducted for 5 weeks by excellent facilitators. There is a free demo class where you can interact with the faculty and get an understanding of what the course is about.
The sessions are interactive and the students are given assignments and feedback regularly. In the technical writing course, one can learn all the fundamentals of technical communication skills and much more. IIM skills has been in the industry for over 5 years and is one of the reputed institutes. Students can also opt for the internship program and get real-time experience. The course details and fee details are available on the website.
Udemy offers several short courses in technical writing. The courses start from Rs.385 onwards. Depending on your requirement, previous experiences you can choose one or more courses from them. They are one of the top leading institutes for online courses. They have a range of courses including academic writing, business writing, research paper writing, and communication skills. Find more from their website.
Coursera is popular for free online videos. You can view any number of videos across different categories. It is very popular with people wanting to update their skills. In case anyone wants a certification, an exam fee has to be paid.
The duration of the courses is from 2 hours to 3 months. One can learn the fundamentals of technical communication skills from the online videos and if interested can pursue an advanced course. People from all over the world take up these courses. There are subtitles available in other languages.
The online Techwriter certification course from techwriter aims at providing value-added training to individuals, professionals, and corporates. They specialize in corporate training and offer tailor-made technical writing courses for corporate employees.
After completing a course, the students can obtain a respected TWC Certificate from either Clemson University, The University of Maine Conferences & Institutes, or The Ohio State University. Reach out to them through their website.
Symbiosis Centre for Distance Learning
Symbiosis is very much popular for its distance learning programs. They have a Post Graduate Diploma in Technical Writing in Business Management. Graduates from recognized Indian and International universities can apply for this program. The fees are Rs.55,000 excluding the application fee.
The program is for two years and includes Introduction, Technical Development Life Cycle I & II, Technical Writing Style and Editing, English grammar, Technical Communication Software Tools, Advanced Concepts in Technical Communication, Technical Communication Project Management, Principles and Practices of Management in the first year.
Learn all about Business Communication, Instructional Design for Business Communication, Introduction to Creative Writing in Business Communication, Advanced Documentation Types & Processes, Advanced Technical Writing Tools, Research Methodology, and a Project.
HenryHarvin is a popular training institute offering various courses to both individuals and corporates at a reasonable price. They offer courses in Technical Writing, Content Writing amongst others. They have a Technical Writing course priced at Rs.12,500 and a Post Graduate Technical Writing course priced at Rs.39,000. They have a membership program that enables the students to be updated with the latest trends. Check out their website for more details.
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Career possibilities of a Technical Writer
A Technical writer has diverse choices in the field of technical communications. Below are listed the options available options:
- Manual writers
- Policy writers
- Content writers
- Documentation specialists
- Technical communications specialists
- Technical communicators
- Technical illustrators
- Technical writing trainers
Good Technical writing skills are very much required in all industries in this technology-driven age. There are lots of new industries growing worldwide and the demand for technical writers is enormous. You now, know what are the fundamentals of technical communication skills, the benefits, and drawbacks of the different courses, along with the career prospects. Grab that impressive technical writing course and get started on an exciting journey in the field of technical communication.