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Re: Can I Have Your Opinions and Ideas on Audience?
Subject:Re: Can I Have Your Opinions and Ideas on Audience? From:Sonina Velasquez <tscom009 -at- DUNX1 -dot- OCS -dot- DREXEL -dot- EDU> Date:Wed, 2 Nov 1994 21:32:06 +0800
"My intuition is that there are a basic set of skills/actions (analogous to
>the therblings in industrial engineering) that separate users into
>categories and that these can be identified and used to make meaningful
>distinctions between levels of assistance required."
"I think that some form of test is the missing link in efforts to target
>documentation to users' needs; current steps in this direction (quick start
>guides and expanded guides that tell you how to do the same things, quick
>reference cards, etc.) rely on the user's estimate of their own
>capabilities, which are obviously not necessarily reliable or accurate."
are two statements that have concepts that have touched me as well. There
has to be a tool out there (the missing link) that technical writers can
use to effectively WRITE TO A SPECIFIC AUDIENCE. What I have found is a
list of questions, such as
1. What do you do for a living?
2. What are your key responsibilities?
3. What will you be using this information (technical document for)?
This is the only tool I have found. Does any one know of any other tools
that are similar? or not similar, but effective?
The closest "other" tool I have seen I some how fell upon at a seminar by
Career Tracks called --"How to Handle People With Tact and Skill"
It was a reference table in the back of the seminar booklet which was
designed to help people communicate (verbally-tactfully) with difficult
people they work with. Although in its raw form it can not be used to help
technical communicators address a specific audience, but maybe modified
slightly it can help. I have tried rewriting it, but need help to refine it
as a working tool.
The basic concept behind the reference table is that people or people's
personalities can be categorized. Once categorized (type a, type b, type c)
you can figure out how to address that person. I know this might seem quite
shallow at first glance, but it may be worth a try.
Shy, Aggressive, Demanding, Leader, Follower (the list goes on--if you are
interested I'll write more about the categories next time). Once you find
out or figure out what type of personality you are writing for, you can
look on this reference card and see how best to address that type of a
person. I imagine it takes practice and intuitiveness.