Two things are required to write well about a complex topic: a detailed and comprehensive understanding of the topic and the ability to convey that knowledge in a way that non-experts can understand. While engineers tend to easily meet the first requirement, many struggle with the latter.
Engineers work in a world where accuracy, precision, and detail are requirements for good communication, whether it's a technical specification or a training manual. That's why, when they have to create documents for a non-technical audience, they may find themselves over-detailing or relying on technical terms. Taking a writing course for engineers can help technical-minded folk learn how to communicate effectively with laypeople.
Here are three strategies to learn:
- Modularization. Developing a knowledge base that anyone can access and understand can reduce documentation costs by having clear, concise information available on single topics. These modules can be assembled into longer documents as needed, and each adequately explain their focus.
- Simplification. Brief sentences, trimmed-down paragraphs, and a streamlined outline can help to make documents less intimidating for nontechnical audiences . When possible, technical terms should be avoided or explained in the text.
- Use-case analysis. How is the document going to be used? A manager who is interested in increasing efficiency might only need to know what the efficiencies and costs of various approaches are. A salesperson needs to know the selling points. Focus on the audience's needs in order to trim away extraneous information.
A "soft" skill like writing for nontechnical audiences might not come easily to engineers, but like any process, it can be learned. Check out our Writing for Engineers course, and free learning material, at Hurley Write, Inc . Learn more technical writing tips for engineers, contact us today.
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