ASTC(NSW) 2012 annual conference: Day 1November 2, 2012
Today was the first day of the two-day ASTC(NSW) annual conference. It was a full-on day, with six sessions, plus an extra optional session for those interested in OpenOffice and LibreOffice (I didn’t attend that one).
After the introductory and ‘welcome’ comments was the keynote talk by Dr Neil James titled ‘Rediscovering Rhetoric: Persuasion for Technical Communicators’. Neil took us through time to describe the history of rhetoric and some of the reasoning options that the Greeks came up with. Most importantly, however, he applied the theory to today’s practice and discussed how we could use persuasive techniques to engage our readers with the content we produce.
Next was Hamish Blunck’s session ‘From TechComm to eProdctn: Transitioning to eBooks’ where he discussed the rise of eBooks, and some of the tools to create eBooks (including a very clever add-in to Author-It). Some points I jotted down from his talk included:
- eBooks use formless content (PDFs are from formed/definitive content, which includes layout, graphics, tables etc.)
- Either construct your eBook to the lowest common denominator or define which eReaders you will support
- Development considerations include layout, tables, images, navigation and search — if you have a LOT of these, then eBooks may not be the answer as the result may not be pretty.
- ePUB is your starting point, then convert into other formats (e.g. Kindle, Apple) from that
After morning tea, Dr Elyssebeth Leigh spent 90 minutes (all other sessions were 45 mins, so I’m not sure why this one was much longer) on ‘Linking writing to practice: Moving your readers to action’. Some of her points included:
- When working with words, you need to understand that the words themselves can be a trap.
- Every word we use has more than one meaning. Which words do I select that are the most like the meaning I want to convey?
- We’re in the business of helping people learn.
- Multiple delivery modes are the answer to ‘How to you know how your audience learns?’
- Less emphasis on writing; more on the craft of communicating.
- Have to make assumptions about what the audience knows.
- Assumptions, context, sequencing, and engagement: You need to think about what you are writing/communicating.
Elyssebeth used some games to demonstrate her points, but to be honest, I thought that her session could have finished appropriately at the end of the ‘put on a coat’ exercise and discussion. I lost concentration (a LOT!) for the last 45 minutes.
Lunch was only 30 minutes if you went to Jean Hollis Weber’s optional session on OpenOffice etc.; for those of us who didn’t, we ended up with 75 minutes for lunch.
My first session was next (I’m also doing two) on ‘Editing: It’s not as easy as it looks‘. I got lots of lovely comments afterwards. I really don’t know how I did and won’t unless I get copies of the evaluations later.
The final session of the day was from Irene Wong (‘Wong’s words on right words’), where she took to task the use of words like ‘Product Disclosure Statement’, initialisms, and so on. As it was the end of the day, my concentration levels were taking a battering (and I was also winding down from my own session), so I probably didn’t hear as much of it as I should have.
This evening is the conference dinner — and I need to leave for that in about 5 minutes!