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STC PMC Newsletter 2005-01


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STC PMC Newsletter January/February 2005

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STC PMC Newsletter 2005-01

  1. 1. V olu me 38 Num b er 4 Jan ua ry /Feb ru ary 2 0 05 To Be Treated as a Professional—Be a Professional By Mary Shaw n my almost 20 years in the computer software industry, I have noticed one frustration that keeps resonating among technical writers far more than any other—that our skills and expertise are underappreciated by coworkers who don’t understand what we do. Many tech writers sometimes feel that they’re perceived as “glorified typists.” This can seem particularly insulting to a writer who has spent years developing her skills in writing and information design, and mastering the technological tools she uses to do her job. In matters like this, sometimes the best defense is a good offense. We need to educate those people by demonstrating our value above and beyond our word processing skills. Below are some ideas. Be good for business Instead of just passively waiting for assignments to come your way, seek out new ways to use your skills and talents to improve your company’s bottom line. For example, can you use your com-munications skills and your knowledge of HTML to develop and maintain your company’s Website, thereby reducing the need for outside contractors to do that work? Can you develop processes for sharing chunks of product information with the marketing department, thereby reducing redundant writing efforts (and increasing cross-company consistency)? If you can save the company money, you’ll be seen as a savvy business asset. “Teach a man to fish” One tech writer I spoke with has to deal regularly with a coworker who thinks that the tech writer’s job is to clean up the messed-up formatting in the Microsoft Word documents that he creates. His “projects” come to her with clear instructions: Clean up the styles and other formatting, but don’t mess with the content! The poor, frustrated writer has to ignore pages and pages of bad spelling, bad grammar, bad punctuation, and occasionally even erroneous information and simply do the grunt work of reformatting the document to “look pretty.” One possible solution: Create standard templates for the various types of documents produced by other departments and teach all applicable staff members to use the templates effectively. If they still mess up and want you to repair the damage, just respond with a refresher course on proper use of styles and templates. Not only will this reduce your level of “grunt work” in the long run, it will demonstrate that the word processing software is merely a tool that you use effectively I Contents To Be Treated as a Professional—Be a Professional Mary Shaw _____________1 Editor’s Voice Happy New Year! Lori Corbett ____________2 President’s Podium It’s Yours! Steven Lungren_________3 Montco Support Group Announces Its Monthly Meetings ________________________4 November Meeting Review Instructional Design as a Career Dolores Lehr ___________5 Crossword Puzzle Zsolt Olah ______________6 Member Spotlight Putting on Our "A" Game—Jane Phillips Jill Cassidy Rolette _____7 Ten Tips for Effective PowerPoint Presentations Dolores Lehr ___________8 (Continued on page 9)
  2. 2. January/February 2005 2 NEWS & VIEWS NEWS & VIEWS Submissions and Reprints You may reprint original material appearing in NEWS & VIEWS, as long as you acknowledge the source and author and send us a copy of the publication containing the reprint. ISSN 1078-9952. News & Views, published six times per year, is the official publication of the Philadelphia Metro Chapter of STC. We encourage letters, articles, and other items for publication. Note: By submitting an article, you implicitly grant a license to this newsletter to run the article and for other STC publications to reprint it without permission. Unless otherwise noted, copyrights for all newsletter articles belong to the authors. The design and layout of this newsletter are copyright STC, 2005. Address submissions or comments to Lori Corbett, Managing Editor, NEWS & VIEWS, 22 Creekside Drive, Sanatoga, PA, 19464, phone (610) 382-8683; email Toolbox We produce NEWS & VIEWS with Frame-Maker 6.0 and Acrobat 6.0 on various Pentium computers. Newsletter Staff Managing Editor Lori Corbett Layout Editor Rose Marie Sosnowy (610) 792-4031 Associate Editor Al Brown (856) 222-7427 Rebecca Richardson Mary Shaw Also Contributing to This Issue Delores Lehr Zsolt Olah Jill Cassidy Rollette EDITOR’S VOICE Happy New Year! By Lori Corbett s I write this editorial, the holidays are just around the corner; but as you read this editorial, things are probably just settling down from the hectic end-of-year activity. Welcome back! It’s going to be a great year. We have a lot of things to look forward to here in the Philadelphia Metro chapter. This year’s STC Annual Conference is in Seattle, WA. I know it’s very far away and not many of us can afford the time and expense of such a long trip. But, instead of traveling all the way out to Seattle, how about planning on attending the Third Annual Philadelphia Metro Conference in March at the Penn State University, Great Valley location? The facilities are beautiful and the presentations promise to enhance your professional experience. It’s also not too early to think about how involved you’d like to be in our chapter’s activities and leadership in 2005. NEWS & VIEWS Managing Editor Position Opening Now that the newsletter is up and running, more-or-less like clockwork, I think that perhaps it’s time for a new managing editor of this fantastic, award-winning newsletter. Do you have some new ideas to keep it fresh and alive for our members? Managing Editor of NEWS & VIEWS is also a great addition to your resume. If you would be interested in taking this on, please contact me at 610- 382-8683 (my work number). I would love to work with you on an issue or two as you learn the ins and outs of this position. Have You Renewed Your Membership? Don’t forget to renew your membership. Of course, the chapter leadership hopes that everyone renews and selects either the Classic Membership or E-Membership and select STC-PMC as your community chapter-of-choice. These memberships are the only means by which the chapter gets rebates from the Society. And these memberships are the only means by which you can take advantage of chapter membership discounts and member-only areas of the STC- PMC website. Remember that your dues are tax deductible for the year in which they are paid. You can claim dues as a deduction in several ways: as a charitable expense, a business expense, or a miscellaneous deduction. If you are self-employed or an employer, you can claim the full amount of dues as a business expense. All other Classic and Limited members determine their charitable contribution by subtracting the cost of tangible benefits ($30) from the cost of dues ($145 and $125, respectively.) Because Student members and E-members do not receive printed versions of Technical Communication or Intercom, they do not receive tangible benefits, and may deduct the full amount of dues ($135 and $50 respectively). A (Continued on page 10)
  3. 3. January/February 2005 3 NEWS & VIEWS PRESIDENT’S PODIUM It’s Yours! By Steven Lungren he current iteration of your chapter website was created with the notion that many STC-PMC members have the ability and the talent to contribute content and share information on our site. For PMC members who can’t attend our monthly program meetings due to other responsi- bilities or schedule conflicts, the site provides a forum for social interaction where you can virtually mingle and carry on a dialog with your peers. By enabling you to be actively involved with your fellow PMC members through, our chapter provides another contact point for technical communication professionals. As both a resource and an outlet for you, also represents the STC transformation concept of communities of interest. As a chapter member, some of the things you can do at are: submit articles and book reviews; comment on items posted on the site; exchange information in forums with other PMC members; announce your availability for employment; and view our private list of available jobs. These options are available to you only after you log in. If you haven’t already created an account for the site, doing so is as easy as completing the following steps: 1. Go to the home page. 2. Click New Account Signup. The log-in page displays. 3. Enter your Username and Email Address in the Account Signup block. 4. Click Apply for Account. To expedite the approval of your account, please use a name and email address our Membership Manager can use to determine your membership status. ( is not part of the system and does not use the same Web server or user log-in data.) After your membership is con- firmed and your account is activated, you will receive an email message with your Username and a randomly generated password. Then, after you log in, you can use the Control Panel option to create your own password. You’ll also notice significant changes in the left column of the home page: the Control Panel, mailing list subscription control, and seven additional Menu options. Some of the features that are available only to STC-PMC members after Log In: Bulletin Board—Post topics, comments, or questions, and T STC-PMC LEADERSHIP Address correspondence for the Philadelphia Metro chapter of STC to STC-PMC, P.O. Box 60069, Philadelphia, PA 19102-0069. SOCIETY FOR TECHNICAL COMMUNICATION Mission Statement: Designing the Future of Technical Communication The Society for Technical Communication (STC) is an organization dedicated to advancing technical communication. Membership is open to those employed in, interested in, or concerned with the profession of technical writing, publishing, or associated disciplines. Contact STC at 901 N. Stuart St., Suite 904, Arlington, VA 22203, (703) 522-4114 or Chapter Officers President Steve Lungren (267) 620-2421 Vice President Jane Phillips (856) 608-7200 Treasurer Gary Samartino (610) 701-0577 Secretary Jill Cassidy (215) 590-9815 Immediate Past President Nad Rosenberg (856) 484-6598 Region 1 Director/Sponsor Jon Baker (978) 443-3049 Chapter Committee Managers Employment Giacomo DeAnnuntis (215) 482-1255 Programs Julia Margulies (484) 344-2448 Membership Mike Sharp (856) 854-2141 NEWS & VIEWS Lori Corbett (610) 382-8683 Nominating Mike Sharp (856) 854-2141 Website Lois Shank Competition Donn DeBoard (484) 595-6216 Marc Green (610) 358-0631 (Continued on page 10) Image: Public menu on left, Member menu on right, after Log In
  4. 4. NEWS & VIEWS 4 January/February 2005 STC-PMC CALENDAR Unless otherwise noted, all meetings follow this schedule: Networking: 6:00 to 6:30 p.m. Dinner: 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Program: 7:30 to 9 p.m. January 20. Global Communi- cation: “Where in the World Is Your Project?” presented by Heather Petit, Senior Technical Communication Consultant at First Consulting Group (FCG) and Marcia Jacquette, Independent Technical Communication Consultant. Like it or not, we’re communi- cating globally—Mergers, acquisitions, partnerships, new clients. More and more of our work requires working with someone offshore; more often than not, we're frustrated and disappointed by the experience. How can we focus on the technical issues without getting clobbered by the cultural issues? Join us for a discussion of business etiquette in the global economy. Location: Web delivery. See the STC-PMC website for more information. February 17. Life-long Learning Panel: Training to Keep the “Techie” in Your Technique. Tonight’s focus is on local and online training resources avail-able for you to expand your knowledge, develop new skills, sharpen current skills, boost your career, or enhance your resume. Alternative training resources provide the following advantages: ❏ Lower costs and time commitments ❏ Flexible class schedules ❏ Less or no travel ❏ Meet and network with community members, neighbors, and students from around the world Location: Enterprise Center at Burlington Community College, Mount Laurel, NJ Montco Support Group Announces Its Monthly Meetings he Montgomery County Technical Writers Support Group (Montco Group) consists of those chapter members who live and work in Montgomery County. The Montco Group held its third meeting on December 1st. Leading the group is Sheryl Sankey, who says the purpose of the Montoco Group is to provide “a safe, unconditionally accepting space where technical writers can share what works and what doesn't work in their respective work environments and to form friendships with one another. So often we find ourselves in an isolated situation with no where we can turn to for help or no one to provide emotional support when we find ourselves in challenging situations.” A variety of topics were discussed at December’s meeting including: ❏ Sharing various members’ tips, difficulties, and positive experiences when working with subject matter experts (SMEs)—what worked and what didn’t. ❏ An informal presentation by Tim Esposito on how to create style template documents. ❏ Chapter President, Steve Lungren talked about upcoming STC-PMC events, including the Annual Conference in March. If you would like be part of the Montco Group, just come to one of their meetings, which occur the first Wednesday of every month. The next meeting is scheduled for January 5th (February’s meeting will be on February 2nd). All meetings are from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Lancers Diner, 858 Easton Road in Horsham. T As an STC-PMC member you are now entitled to a 20% discount on books purchased directly from O'Reilly online or by phone. The 20% discount applies to books published by O'Reilly, Paraglyph, Pragmatic Bookshelf, SitePoint, Syngress, or No Starch Press. Your 20% discount also applies to O'Reilly conferences and tutorials! We want PMC members to write book reviews for publication on, in News & Views, and on the O'Reilly catalog site. To help get you started on your review, you can request a book to review. Log on to, go to PMC Books to get the STC-PMC O'Reilly discount code, and submit your request for a book to review.
  5. 5. January/February 2005 5 NEWS & VIEWS STC AND RELATED EVENTS AROUND THE WORLD January 15. Submission deadline for abstracts for the Fifth International Congress on Peer Review and Biomedical Publication, which will be held September 17- 19 in Chicago. For more information check out the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) website at January 15-16. The James River Chapter STC will hold its 2005 Conference, “Information Design and Management,” at the Four Points by Sheraton hotel in Williamsburg, VA. For more information, contact Don White at or see the website ( January 24-27. The 51st Annual Reliability and Maintainability Symposium will be held at the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center in Alexandria, VA. For more information, see the website ( January 30-February 4. ASTD (American Society for Training and Development) will hold the ASTD TechKnowledge 2005 Conference and Exposition at the Riviera Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV. For more information, see the website ( February 17-21. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) will hold its annual meeting at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, DC. For more information, contact the AAAS Meetings Department at February 25-26. The STC Atlanta Chapter will hold Currents 2005, its annual technical communication conference, at the Atlanta campus of Mercer University. The event will include a full-day workshop on Friday and a full-day conference on Saturday. For more information, contact Rachel Grimes at or see the Atlanta chapter's website ( NOVEMBER MEETING REVIEW Instructional Design as a Career By Dolores Lehr ccording to Constance Billé, instructional design is a field that combines art, writing, and teaching. At the November meeting held at Philadelphia University, Billé told how she began her own career at age 16 by creating instructions for needle-point designs. She then had the attendees complete a checklist of tasks they perform at work—tasks related to instructional design, technical writing, and other fields. Billé explained that instructional designers are concerned with behavior outcome rather than information input, and they come from varied backgrounds, including teaching, programming, project managing, and graphic arts. Compared to technical writers, instructional designers are more concerned with learning outcomes, assessments, and evaluations. Nonetheless, she said, both share skills including research, writing, and editing. Both use visual design tools and work with web project development as well as project management and content management systems. Billé explained that instructional designers also share skills with other professionals, including knowledge managers, consultants, and instructional technicians. Instructional design, she said, in fact, is a cross between writing and programming. For those interested in becoming instructional designers, Billé offered the following advice. ❏ Join professional associations, such as STC and its instructional design SIG. ❏ Take courses in education or communication. You might consider enrolling in a university program. Billé noted that some universities, like Temple and Penn State, emphasize theory; whereas others, like Philadelphia University, emphasize technology. ❏ Learn how to use basic tools, (such as, Word and PowerPoint) and authoring tools (ToolBook, Authorware, and especially Breeze—a tool that Billé thinks will continue to increase in popularity). ❏ Learn about available internal positions and use contacts to help make your move. ❏ Learn to network, and leave your current position on good terms. ❏ “Be a star at work” by showing initiative and self-management, having perspective on the larger picture, being a team player, and also being a leader. At the conclusion of her pre- sentation, Billé had the audience compare the checklist they completed earlier with another list showing specific interests and experiences shared by groups of professionals. By comparing these lists to their personal interests, the attendees could easily see where their responses were similar to those of instructional designers and where they differed from them. With these comparisons, Billé concluded the attendees could identify the areas of expertise required to transform their careers into one of instructional design. A
  6. 6. NEWS & VIEWS 6 January/February 2005 CROSSWORD PUZZLE By Zsolt Olah 1 R 2 U 3 D 4 O L 5 P 6 H 7 S 8 H 9 A 10 H 11 E U R O 12 U O 13 L O V E J 14 A B U 15 S E R A 16 U 17 N 18 S 19 U P E R V I S E D 20 V E N D E R 21 U G E Q 22 E W O 23 X T 24 G 25 H S 26 E U 27 N T W 28 U 29 Y A 30 Q 31 H R A A 32 F P 33 T 34 R U 35 M O U R 36 T A L L Y 37 B I S E C T I 38 A O R 39 T A L E 40 O 41 L K A 42 I G 43 O 44 V 45 E R 46 N E E D 47 P E R H A P S ACROSS 1. Red-nosed horsepower 7. Persian king 11. New currency overseas 12. UO 13. Christmas spirit 14. For example, alcohol or drug molester 16. You become this when your boss in on vacation 20. Seller 21. Huge aftertaste 22. EWO 23. XTG 25. HSEU 27. NTWU 29. YAQ 31. HRA 32. FPT 34. Words of mouth 36. Belafonte’s banana counter man 37. Two part division 38. Related to the main trunk of the systemic arteries and not the car 40. End of a Bohemian dance 42. IG 43. End of the normal time period 46. Necessity 47. Possibly DOWN 1. The process of making young again 2. UU 3. Smart prefix 4. Zeros 5. Stage of adolescence that begins with a bar 6. Time measurement 7. Sliding vessel 8. Lucky footwear 9. Audio-video 10. Center of operations 14. The vertex 15. Special Law & Order unit 17. Small, sender salamander; Could be new or not 18. Absent-minded frozen liquid 19. University in Delaware 24. Trash 26. Remedy, backwards 28. Transfer to the server 30. Never ending quilt 33. Son of Odin 35. MS 39. Inside information 41. Beginning of legalization 43. OH 44. Virginia 45. EP UPCOMING STC WEB AND TELEPHONE SEMINARS All of these seminars are held from 1:00–2:30 p.m. Each seminar costs $99 per site for STC members. (The nonmember rate is $149 per site.) A site can have only one phone connection and one computer connection. In addition to offering high- quality training at an affordable price, STC's seminar series features a quick and simple online registration process. For detailed information about any of the following seminars, go to January 12. Preemptive Project Planning, presented by John Hedke (Web-Telephone) January 26. A Pound of Salt, a Pint of Blood—Getting the Most Out of Your Contractors to Ensure Project Success, presented by Tom White (Web-Telephone) February 2. Low-Tech Analysis of Sentence Structure: The Sentence Diagram, presented by Ann Jennings February 16. Global Diversity: Increasing Cross-Cultural Communication Awareness, presented by Carol Barnum March 9. That's a Good Question! presented by Elizabeth Frick March 23. Breaking into E- learning, presented by William Horton Guidelines: Not your typical crossword. Some of the definitions maybe be vague, associative, even funny. A single word CAPITALIZED (e.g., across 25) is your guide. Use it ‘as is.’ Puzzle Solution on page 12
  7. 7. January/February 2005 7 NEWS & VIEWS MEMBER SPOTLIGHT Putting on Our "A" Game—Jane Phillips By Jill Cassidy Rolette s a Red Sox fan, I have been avidly following what is usually known as the seasonal heartbreak of the postseason. What a different outcome this year! The Red Sox, in a week-and-a-half that defies the history of miracles, have won the World Series, due to the sudden and sustained onset of their “A game” this October. Their what? Their A game, a situation when key players rise to meet a challenge with stellar individual performances that combine into an unstoppable team performance. Jane Phillips, our current vice- president, is one of our chapter’s “key players” and part of the leadership team that brings out our best—our A-game. As a manager of documentation and packaging in the Products Division of PRICE Systems, L.L.C., in Mount Laurel, NJ, Jane has a keen eye for detail, marketing, and public relations and she is using it to help our chapter rise to new levels of quality in all areas of membership services. Our vice-president describes herself as a self-professed Francophile, who loves to travel, and has recently returned from her third trip to the South of France. Since these trips are dear in terms of time and money, Jane settles for a few return trips to her former stomping grounds at the New Jersey seashore a couple of times a month to stay in touch with her old summer and winter haunts. Yet when she is not jetting off to the South of France or traipsing through the sands of the Jersey shore, Jane develops user assist- ance for ten software products, as well as maintains a secure website for PRICE Systems’ software customers. She also manages the production, packaging, and labeling of CDs and manuals for release. She incorporates a variety of tools into her documentation support, including WinHelp (16- and 32-bit) for heritage software products, standard HTML for web-based applications, HTML- based WebHelp for a client server application, and FrameMaker and Acrobat for end-user and administration guides. Jane didn’t set out to be a “technical communicator,” but as is a common theme with most of us, she evolved into one through a series of career opportunities. After a failed bid to become an astronaut, she earned a degree in Journalism and wrote about the energy industry, nuclear power development, the agricultural industry, and politics before moving into the field of public relations and marketing for government and non-profit organizations. With the desire to switch to a commercial market, Jane started with PRICE Systems in the bids and proposals department. She was tapped for some research projects and when her writing skills were seen by senior staff members, she suddenly found her dance card full! While working on a challenging project, Jane stumbled across the STC website. She was delighted to find an organization that existed solely for the purpose of supporting professionals like her. As the lone writer who was focused on software documentation in her organization, Jane was thrilled for the opportu-nity to meet people and discuss ideas for the purpose of growing and learning. She joined the Philadelphia Metro Chapter of STC in 1999 and has continually become more and more involved. Price Systems underwrites Jane’s STC membership, but not without annual justification. Even with budget constraints, she has been able to convince her company of STC’s worth, because of our chapter’s consistent development of programming that anticipates trends in our region and in our industry. Jane has taken full advantage of her membership, using it to update her knowledge and skills by attending meetings, using the STC-PMC member discount for training, obtaining useful information about “industry metrics, best practices, project estimating, budget planning, vendor contacts, personnel recruitment, salary guides, and standards for international audiences.” She also cites the professional peer review and potential awards for projects entered in the chapter competition as being a one-of-a-kind benefit to her membership. After realizing that she was a recipient of the STC-PMC’s leadership team’s hard work and tireless planning, Jane decided it was time to “give something back.” She has high A (Continued on page 11) Jane has taken full advantage of her membership . . . obtaining useful information about “industry metrics, best practices, project estimating, budget planning, vendor contacts, personnel recruitment, salary guides, and standards for international audiences.”
  8. 8. NEWS & VIEWS 8 January/February 2005 Ten Tips for Effective PowerPoint Presentations By Dolores Lehr hile the PowerPoint® presentation graphics program is extremely popular for delivering information visually to audiences, many PowerPoint presentations are poorly constructed and delivered. These ineffective presentations often result from poor planning and neglect of some basics that go into creating any form of communication. To avoid putting your audience to sleep or just boring them with mind-numbing slides, consider the following tips. 1. Determine your purpose. When preparing a presentation, first ask yourself what your general purpose is: is it to explain, instruct, persuade, or entertain? Then consider your specific purpose: is it to explain the history of a project, instruct clients on a new procedure, or persuade them to adopt your recommendations? Often a presentation is ineffective because it lacks a clear purpose. 2. Identify your audience. Your purpose, of course, is tied closely to the analysis of your audience. Who are these people? What is their background, and what do they know about your topic? How recep-tive are they to what you are presenting? These are just examples of the many questions you need to ask before proceeding. 3. Outline and create a storyboard. After determining your purpose and analyzing your audience, begin jotting down ideas. Then start your outline by listing major headers that you can translate into titles for individual slides. Divide these titles into sub-titles, but keep in mind that if you have only one subtitle under a title, you need to go back and change the title. Every title you divide needs at least two subsections. Since your presentation is a visual one, consider creating a storyboard by sketching a graphic next to each of the major titles in your outline. Use a separate page for each slide, placing the text on one side and the sketch or name of the graphic on the other. In your “story,” be sure to include an introduction, conclusion, and some transitional slides. 4. Limit your text and chose appropriate graphics. Limit the amount of text on a slide to 25–35 words (divided into no more than six lines, if possible). Too many words reduce the type size and make reading difficult. Also, you want fewer words so you can elaborate orally on what you have written on your slide. When selecting graphics, consider the tone you want to convey: for a formal tone, you might use only photos; whereas for an informal tone, you might use cartoons. 5. Use a sans serif font. Many presenters just convert text from their pages printed in Times Roman to their PowerPoint slides. While this serif font is quite readable on the printed page, on a screen it is more difficult to read than a sans serif font like Arial or Impact. Select a font that has strong, delineated lines so everyone in the room can read it. 6. Use colors with sufficient contrast. You might want also to change the color of your type, but keep in mind, that light colors, like yellow or gold, that look fine on your computer screen can seem washed out and be extremely difficult to read when they are projected on a larger screen. If you do use a light color, consider highlighting it with a “shadow,” so there is more contrast. 7. Use animated and transitional effects sparingly. In PowerPoint 2003, there are numerous effects to choose from, but be wary of choosing too many and changing them too often. Having your words fly in from the left and changing your slides from one to the other like vertical blinds can work well. But having the words fly in from the bottom and then from the left and right or having screens change as blinds and then dissolve and fade, will only distract your audience. If you create effects, check to see if they are working properly by clicking on the star icon in the lower- left corner of each slide in “Slide Sorter.” If any transition is not functioning, go to Slide Show-->Slide Transition and make the necessary changes. 8. Edit for accuracy, clarity, consistency, and conciseness. In editing, you want to review the entire show first for accuracy in content and then for organization. Check first that all your facts are correct. Then check the overall arrangement of the slides by going to “Slide Sorter” under the “View” pull- down box. If any slide seems out of place, just cut and paste it where you want it to appear. After reviewing the overall presentation, check your individual slides for accuracy and consistency with punctuation, capitalization, color, font, and effects. Check also for clarity and conciseness. Make sure what you have written is clear, and see if you can eliminate unnecessary words, condense phrases, or eliminate extra graphics. 9. In preparing your delivery, consider your appearance and voice. Wear appropriate comfortable clothing, and assume a confident posture. Your body language and W (Continued on page 9)
  9. 9. January/February 2005 9 NEWS & VIEWS facial expression should convey enthusiasm and assurance. Many presentations have saved by an enthusiastic and confident presenter. While speaking, you want to project your voice so that the people in the back of the room can hear you. You also want to practice beforehand pronouncing any words that you anticipate having difficulty saying. During delivery, modulate your speed—speaking slowly at times, pausing, and at other times speaking quickly. 10. Interact with both your audience and your slides. Maintain good eye contact. In a room of 20–25 people, you should be able to make eye contact with everyone at least once during the presentation. With a larger audience, you can look around as you speak, and try to make contact with as many people as possible. Finally, use the slides as part of your conversation with the audience—not reading word- for-word from them, but rather referring to and elaborating on parts of each. Point to the slides, com- menting on individual terms, and interact with the audience by asking questions, whether or not you expect a reply. By following these tips, you can avoid the pitfalls that so often characterize slide shows. In so doing, you can create and deliver a very effective PowerPoint presentation. to do your job, just as it is a tool that they need to use effectively to do their own jobs. Show off your expertise. Sometimes the best way to demonstrate your expertise is to teach it to others. I’m not talking about turning all your coworkers into qualified tech writers—just use your own skills to help them improve theirs. For example, hold a lunchtime learning session for managers on effective writing style, or for QA/QC folks on how to effectively test a help system. Being seen as an expert and as a resource in new areas can greatly enhance your clout within the company. Don’t be an afterthought. Often, a tech writer is brought on to a project at its later stages. While it’s difficult, if not impossible, to document software that does not yet exist, tech writers often can add value to a project at the earlier stages. Encourage the project managers to include a tech writer in early project meetings to explore how you can help with the project’s communication needs. By helping to develop (or even just edit) project proposals, requirements specifications, and design documents, not only will you demonstrate your added value to the project, you’ll gain an early understanding of the product and be ready to hit the ground running when it’s time to write the help or the user guide. Also use the upfront time to develop a formal documentation plan for the project, which might include detailed descriptions of each of your deliverables along with corresponding resource estimates and an overview of the tools to be used and the delivery format for each. This will demonstrate that there is much, much more to technical communication that just typing. Attitude is everything. Projecting a professional attitude can work wonders toward achieving respect in the workplace. Be confident, positive, responsible, and resourceful. If you make a mistake, own up to it, fix the problem, and then move forward. Treat others as professionals. Learn to recognize when you need help or resources, and then learn to motivate others to get what you need. Hone your conflict resolution skills and your negotiation skills. Above all, communicate—clearly, directly, and diplomatically. I hope that these suggestions will help some writers in their quest to be taken more seriously on the job. I welcome other ideas and suggestions, so please e-mail me at mary@maryshawonline and let me know what more we can do to improve our image in the workplace. If I receive enough feedback, I will incorporate it into a sequel to this article. In the meantime, keep up the good fight. Here’s to our growing respect in the workplace! About the author: Mary Shaw is a technical writer for First Consulting Group in Wayne, PA. She can be contacted at Ten Tips for Effective PowerPoint Presentations (Continued from page 8) To Be Treated as a Professional—Be a Professional (Continued from page 1)
  10. 10. NEWS & VIEWS 10 January/February 2005 participate in dialogs with other chapter members Positions Available—View the list of available jobs Seeking Employment—Add or modify your Seeking Employment information PMC Books—Get the STC-PMC member code for 20% discount on O’Reilly books; request a book that you will review for pubication Presentation Materials—View materials made available by pre- senters from past STC-PMC programs STC-PMC Members—View the list of STC-PMC members Submit Event—Submit information for the Calendar Hangman—Play the famous word game You can use these features to submit your own book reviews, articles, comments, and questions via the site to the PMC membership. With your unique contributions, can be a useful portal for exchanging ideas and information. You’ll also be able to access features using the modules found on the Control Panel tabs: Site Content, My Settings, and My Modules. Some of these modules permit you to change settings to suit the way you want to use them when you visit the site. Control Panel: Site Content Bulletin Board—A forums module for dialog among chapter members: add topics for discussion; add comments to topics; send a note to the person posting; monitor topic posts via email alerts Documents—Documents made available for download Multi-Send Notes—Send notes to groups of users Positions Wanted—Post your info on the site for employers Web Pages—Submit articles and reviews for approval and posting on the site STC-PMC Cook Book—Add a recipe to the cook book My Modules Notes—Send notes to individual members registered on the site My Settings Change My Password—Manage your password and email address Personal Comment Settings— Manage the display of comments on the site Set My Bulletin Board Preferences—Manage thread monitoring for Bulletin Board forums Site Mailing Lists—Manage your STC-PMC mailing list subscription(s) All of these options are fairly simple and you should be able to figure out how things work by trying them out. You don’t need to use HTML in order to submit an article or book review, just use plain text. Once you’ve tried it, you’ll see how simple the system is to use. Go ahead, set up your STC-PMC user account. It’s one of the many benefits of membership in the Philadelphia Metro Chapter community of interest. If you have a question about using the site or would like some assistance, please contact me at and I will be happy to help you. It’s Yours! (Continued from page 3) Finally, don’t forget to vote in STC’s international elections. Candidates are as follows: Although I am not familiar with either of the Region 1 Director/Sponsor candidates, I know most of the other candidates. The Society will be in good hands. Preliminary Slate of Candidates for STC Offices President Suzanna Laurent First Vice President Mike Bates Second Vice President Paula Berger, Linda L. Oestreich, and Deborah Sauer Treasurer William C. (W.C.) Wiese and Douglas C. Woestendiek Region 1 Director/Sponsor Cynthia C. Currie and Richard P. Maggiani Happy New Year! (Continued from page 2)
  11. 11. January/February 2005 11 NEWS & VIEWS hopes for our chapter and would like to our membership grow, because its size directly corresponds to the funding we receive from the Society, and this money helps provide the best possible local programming. She would like to see our publicity efforts expand so that we reach more technical communicators in our area, through various media. While our existing resources provide excellent tools for members, Jane believes we can become more specialized by targeting the diverse interests and needs of members within our group. She points out that Steve Lungren, our chapter president, has established a poll on the STC-PMC website, to stay abreast of the issues and concerns that are of the utmost importance to our members. Jane would also like to see the leadership team provide ample documentation for our existing roles and responsibilities, so that we can give an accurate picture of what we are asking of volunteer recruits. I asked Jane what strengths she brings to the chapter leadership team (although I have a pretty good idea from working with her these past few months!). Participating on leadership teams for a variety of non-profit organizations and professional associations has provided Jane with great experience in how to address the “bottom line,” and how to begin projects with a very clear goal in mind. Her background in public relations and marketing has helped her to hone her planning and budgeting skills. As an aside, I can also add that Jane brings a clarity of vision and detailed approach for achieving the desired end result to our chapter leadership team. As some of you may realize, STC, and our chapter specifically are facing many changes in the upcoming year. I asked Jane to help us decipher what these changes mean to us as individual members of the organization and our chapter. Jane identified the in-process transformation initiative of STC, which was designed with the hope of enhancing the usefulness of the Special Interest Groups (SIGs) so that they can best meet the members’ needs. Since the chapter has historically been the primary point of contact for STC members, this could potentially bring about a shift in funding and chapter representation. STC-PMC does not suffer from the geographic challenges that many chapters experience, allowing us to offer “creative face-to-face meetings” and multi-tiered pricing for our annual conference and other chapter events. Jane offers this helpful advice for members navigating the STC transformation: “As a direct result of the transformation initiative, when you renew your STC membership for 2005, the renewal form will offer some new membership options. You’ll recognize the Classic membership, because it is the most similar to our current membership plan. The E-Membership is similar to the Classic membership, but E- Members save $10 by agreeing to receive all STC publications electronically. The Limited membership is intended for those (such as libraries) who are only interested in subscribing to STC print publications. “The fee for Classic and E- Memberships includes the option to choose one chapter and one SIG, or three SIGs (no chapter). I advise our PMC members to renew their Philadelphia Metro Chapter affiliation as a Classic or E-Member because both of these memberships support local programming by returning funds to our chapter.” For more information about the STC transformation initiative, please visit the Society’s website at Finally, Jane detailed some ways in which members can help maintain the momentum our chapter has experienced in the past year: “Our website has the potential to be a meeting place for chapter members. Sign on frequently, read the newsletter, check on coming events, scour the job boards, and answer the poll questions. The last is important. Like all good technical communicators, we need to get the needs analysis right if we are to deliver useful information to our audience.” Our chapter is moving decisively forward to continue to improve the quality of the resources it provides its members. For example, the chapter’s annual conference is well under way, headed by a committee led by our treasurer, Gary Samartino. The committee consists of the following areas of responsibility: ❏ Communications ❏ Facilities ❏ Programming ❏ Registration ❏ Hospitality ❏ Membership Promotion ❏ Competition Awards ❏ Volunteer Recruitment ❏ Sponsorship Development. With help from the strong leadership experience of people like Jane Phillips, the course is much smoother and the way ahead looks clear. The game is on and our team looks like a winner! Why not consider a way in which you can be a part our chapter’s growth and progress? Putting on Our "A" Game—Jane Phillips (Continued from page 7)
  12. 12. NEWS & VIEWS 12 January/February 2005 MANJIROMANJIRO InternationalInternational Internationalization Localization Translation • Technical publications • Multilingual web sites • Software applications Call for a free phone consultation 267-972-1034 Upcoming Meetings The information in the following table was correct at the time NEWS & VIEWS was published. Be sure to check the website ( for details and late-breaking updates to the schedule. For all Thursday meetings, reservations are due by the Monday before the meeting. Date Meeting Topic Location January 20, 2005 Global Communication: Where in the World Is Your Project? presented by Heather Petit, Senior Technical Communication Consultant at First Consulting Group (FCG) and Marcia Jacquette, independent Technical Communication consultant Web Delivery—See the STC- PMC website for more information. February 17, 2005 Lifelong Learning Panel: Training to Keep the “Techie” in Your Technique Enterprise Center, Burlington Community College, Mount Laurel, NJ March 19, 2005 Third Annual Philadelphia Metro Conference: Transforming Your Career with STC-PMC Penn State University, Great Valley, PA April 21, 2005 Knowledge Management TBD May 8–11, 2005 STC’s 52nd Annual Conference Seattle, WA May 19, 2005 Business Climate in Philadelphia TBD June 16, 2005 Marriage of Image and Text TBD Deadline for the March/April 2005 newsletter is February 15, 2005 Puzzle Solution from page 6: 1 R 2 U 3 D 4 O L 5 P 6 H 7 7 S 8 H 9 A 10 H 11 E U R O 12 U O 13 L O V E J 14 14 A B U 15 S E R A 16 U 17 N 18 S 19 U P E R V I S E D 20 V E N D E R 21 U G E Q 22 E W O 23 X T 24 G 25 H S 26 E U 27 N T W 28 U 26 29 Y A 30 Q 28 31 H R A A 30 32 F P 33 T 34 R U 35 M O U R 36 T A L L Y 37 B I S E C T I 36 38 A O R 39 T A L 39 40 E 40 O 41 L K A 52 I G 43 O 44 V 45 E R 46 N E E D 47 P E R H A P S