Client’s language at stc17
This week I’m attending STC Summit 2017, the annual conference of the Society for Technical Communication. These are my notes from one of the sessions at the conference. All credit goes to the presenter, and any mistakes are mine.
Chrystal Mincey’s session was called “Know Your Client’s Language”. Tech writers’ clients have different styles, and may prefer their writers to follow a particular style guide.
Define the client
Take a look at the client’s reporting structure, who your boss reports to, and going higher. The requirement that you’re tackling may come from higher up the chain. Look out also for conflicts of interest, and which division takes priority, especially if different divisions are competing for your time.
Find out the amount of time your client expects from you, and the times of day you need to work. Is flexitime an option? Find out the end goal of the client, and how your project is contributing to it. You’re there to make yourself look good as well as your client. Check the deadlines and milestones, and whether they’re negotiable.
Confirm your responsibilities, and whether there are other tech writers to cover while you’re out.
Determine whether your client has a style guide, or whether they use a particular industry style guide. If there isn’t one, consider developing one. This may be time consuming, but gives you more control. Adhere to templates, if they exist.
Recipe for success
The end goal is for you to be successful, as well as for your client to be successful. Know what time your client arrives, learn their routine, and adjust your work practices to it. Is it OK to approach your client at 9am or should you wait until they’ve had their coffee?
Research in all ways possible.
Client is always right but may be open to change
See things from the client’s viewpoint. Learn their project as a whole, including how to work with the developers. Remember that everyone is working towards the same goal. If there are conflicts, ask the client to see things from your side, and remind them you’re working towards the same goal as they are.
Thanks Chrystal for a spotlight on how to work with a client.
Posted on 10 May 2017, in STC, technical writing and tagged STC, STC Summit 2017, stc17, style, technical communication, technical documentation, technical writing. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.