Technical Writing Tips: How to Make Your Expert Accessible

technical writing interviewing

Technical writing is a lot like business writing.

The two styles of writing overlap so much that any business writer can employ technical writing tactics to their work, and vice versa.

Ultimately, both focus on the audience and what they will need to get out of the document. And when it comes to writing jobs, you serve as the medium between the expert and the audience.

These authorities in their field of knowledge, also known as subject matter experts (SMEs) could include engineers, project managers, technicians, or simply any colleague who’s experienced in the topic.

Your mission as a technical/business writer is to take the SME’s language and ensure it can be digested by your audience. In order to translate the information, you must first collect it from the expert. It’s a process that often involves educating yourself and interviewing the expert(s).

Familiarizing Yourself

If you have the opportunity, it is always a good idea to integrate yourself into the project or research.

Reading existing documentation on the topic and attending meetings will give you a strong head start to developing your work. Additionally, making yourself a member of the team gives you a better grasp of the time frame and most important aspects of the project.

A defined schedule with milestones will help manage time for each task and account for any inevitable setbacks or delays.

Once you’re familiarized with the task, you can commence the interview process. This is likely to last the duration of the project.

Constructing the Interview

Interviews should be personalized for the goal of the interview and the convenience of the expert. They’re often iterative throughout the entire process and can include one-on-one physical interviews, email questionnaires, phone conversations, or even surveys, if you’re trying to reach many experts.

Forming a game plan for your information gathering allows you to lay out a set of expectations for the interviewees.

With your first inquiries, you should establish the parameters for the target document, whether it’s an article, memo, grant proposal, instruction manual, or research report. Some helpful questions to ask the expert include:

  • Who is the audience? What prior experience/education do you expect from the target readers?
  • What sort of background knowledge is required for you, the technical writer? Are there any secondary resources that the expert thinks would be a good place for other data?
  • What is the underlying purpose of the document? Is the goal primarily to educate the readers or are you simply consolidating the information in a more-digestible form?
  • How should the information be constructed (i.e. what medium and style)? Will the documentation span multiple forms of media? Will the form change for different audiences? Are there already templates or standards for this type of work in the company?

Performing the Interview

Once you have these details confirmed, you can perform the bulk of the interview process: collecting expert information about the project. Being an active listener here is key, as the expert may not communicate in a very organized manner – the reason they need a technical writer in the first place!

Utilize different tactics to get the expert passionate about the subject so the interview process isn’t a burden, perhaps learning a bit about the interviewees and their personal stake in the project. Making the expert realize that you are part of the team and you’re both working toward the same goal will considerably smooth out any interaction.

Ask the expert to walk you through their interpretation of the project or system and note the aspects that he or she considers the cornerstones.

Take good notes throughout the interview and record the conversation, if possible.

Finally, ask your questions. This is a good opportunity to place yourself in the shoes of the audience.

Subscribe to Beyond Bylines to get media trends, journalist interviews, blogger profiles, and more sent right to your inbox.

[blog_subscription_form]

Thomas Nicholson is a Customer Content Specialist with PR Newswire and science aficionado with a love for all things nerdy.

You may also like...

34 Responses

  1. I really like reading through a post that can make men and women think. Also, thank you for allowing me to comment!

  2. Great information shared.. really enjoyed reading this post thank you author for sharing this post .. appreciated

  3. Myles Barr says:

    I do not even understand how I ended up here, but I assumed this publish used to be great

  4. Simon Bender says:

    For the reason that the admin of this site is working, no uncertainty very quickly it will be renowned, due to its quality contents.

  5. I’m often to blogging and i really appreciate your content. The article has actually peaks my interest. I’m going to bookmark your web site and maintain checking for brand spanking new information.

  6. I am truly thankful to the owner of this web site who has shared this fantastic piece of writing at at this place.

  7. Andrea Flynn says:

    naturally like your web site however you need to take a look at the spelling on several of your posts. A number of them are rife with spelling problems and I find it very bothersome to tell the truth on the other hand I will surely come again again.

  8. Dale Rivera says:

    Very well presented. Every quote was awesome and thanks for sharing the content. Keep sharing and keep motivating others.

  9. Good post! We will be linking to this particularly great post on our site. Keep up the great writing

  10. Hamza Mayer says:

    This is my first time pay a quick visit at here and i am really happy to read everthing at one place

  11. This is my first time pay a quick visit at here and i am really happy to read everthing at one place

  12. naturally like your web site however you need to take a look at the spelling on several of your posts. A number of them are rife with spelling problems and I find it very bothersome to tell the truth on the other hand I will surely come again again.

  13. itqan says:

    This post is incredibly impressive!
    فني تسليك مجاري

  14. Andre Atkins says:

    This was beautiful Admin. Thank you for your reflections.

  15. Heidy Oliver says:

    very informative articles or reviews at this time.

  16. Gerald Lynn says:

    There is definately a lot to find out about this subject. I like all the points you made

  17. Great information shared.. really enjoyed reading this post thank you author for sharing this post .. appreciated

  18. Good post! We will be linking to this particularly great post on our site. Keep up the great writing

  19. Clay Cooke says:

    Very well presented. Every quote was awesome and thanks for sharing the content. Keep sharing and keep motivating others.

  20. Simon Bender says:

    Awesome! Its genuinely remarkable post, I have got much clear idea regarding from this post

  21. Malaki Kerr says:

    I truly appreciate your technique of writing a blog. I added it to my bookmark site list and will

  22. Pretty! This has been a really wonderful post. Many thanks for providing these details.

  23. I truly appreciate your technique of writing a blog. I added it to my bookmark site list and will

  24. This is my first time pay a quick visit at here and i am really happy to read everthing at one place

  25. Alec Mayo says:

    Hi there to all, for the reason that I am genuinely keen of reading this website’s post to be updated on a regular basis. It carries pleasant stuff.

  26. Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on websites

  27. Awesome! Its genuinely remarkable post, I have got much clear idea regarding from this post

  28. Kiera Mann says:

    Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on websites

  29. Fatma Mourad says:

    إن إنشاء شركة في دبي يمثل خطوة استراتيجية مهمة للراغبين في الاستفادة من فرص الأعمال والتجارة في هذه الإمارة الحيوية. تقدم دبي بيئة مثالية للأعمال بفضل تشريعاتها المرنة والمتطورة وبنيتها التحتية المتطورة، مما يجعلها وجهة مفضلة للمستثمرين من مختلف أنحاء العالم. يتضمن إنشاء الشركة في دبي عدة خطوات مثل تحديد نوع الشركة، واختيار الاسم التجاري المناسب، وتقديم الوثائق المطلوبة إلى الجهات المعنية. يتمتع المستثمرون في دبي بالعديد من المزايا مثل الوصول إلى سوق كبير ومتنوع، والتمتع بالتسهيلات الحكومية، وعدم فرض الضرائب على الأرباح في معظم القطاعات. بالإضافة إلى ذلك، يوفر إنشاء الشركة في دبي فرصة للتوسع العملياتي وزيادة الربحية، مما يجعلها خيارًا مثاليًا لريادة الأعمال والنمو الاقتصادي.

    إنشاء شركة في دبي

  30. Fatma Mourad says:

    تأسيس شركة في دبي يعد خطوة استراتيجية مهمة لرجال الأعمال والمستثمرين، حيث توفر دبي بيئة رجال الأعمال المثالية مع تشجيعها على الاستثمار وتقديم الدعم اللازم للشركات الناشئة. تشمل خطوات تأسيس الشركة في دبي تحديد نوع الشركة المناسب وتحديد النشاط التجاري، ثم تقديم الطلب والمستندات المطلوبة للجهات المعنية في دبي. يجب الامتثال لجميع اللوائح والقوانين المحلية، وتحديد موقع الشركة وإتمام الإجراءات الإدارية والقانونية اللازمة. بعد الحصول على الموافقات اللازمة، يمكن للشركة البدء في مزاولة أعمالها بفعالية في دبي، مستفيدةً من بيئة الأعمال الديناميكية والمتطورة في المدينة.

    تكلفة تاسيس شركة في دبي

  31. I’m often to blogging and i really appreciate your content. The article has actually peaks my interest. I’m going to bookmark your web site and maintain checking for brand spanking new information.

  32. I do not even understand how I ended up here, but I assumed this publish used to be great

  33. For the reason that the admin of this site is working, no uncertainty very quickly it will be renowned, due to its quality contents.

  1. February 7, 2019

    […] Well-Preserved Fossil Is the Earliest Bird of Its Kind and more ->         By Thomas Nicholson: Technical Writing: How to Make Your Subject Matter Expert Accessible         By Joshua Benton: It’s time to apply for an Abrams Nieman Fellowship […]

Leave a Reply